Gandak Consortium

GANDAK CONSORTIUM

Shramdan

Gandak is one of the major rivers of North Bihar, which originates in Nepal and traverses through parts of North Bihar and Uttar Pradesh before merging into the Ganges. Another river called Budhi Gandak also flows in this region and floods about 8.21 hectares of land annually. Floods are common during monsoons every year and the Gandak and Budhi Gandak cause extensive damage in more than 8 districts in the region. In terms of disaster and damage caused due to floods, Gandak ranks third after Ganga and Koshi.

The Gandak consortium was constituted in the year 1997. A group of activists, institutions, people’s organisations and individuals who were inspired by the efforts of the Koshi consortium and Swaraj came together and decided to address the issues in the Gandak region. The work of the consortium extends to six districts in the region.  The formation of the consortium bringing together various stakeholders and organising of workshops, meetings and discussions brought forth a number of issues. But the group was still struggling to find a structure and framework in which to take the process and movement forward.

The PSP process gave a sense of direction and enabled the consortium to strategise issues and evolve the vision and mission. After intensive training of the fellows and representatives from various organisations, the process was taken to 142 villages. These villages were selected based on the number of dalit and other backward communities, lack of any development programs or schemes and the population (between 500-1000). Village committees were constituted and two volunteers (one male and one female) were selected from each village. The village volunteers and fellows together conducted the PSP in which 427 people from 6 districts participated.  During this process the issues relating to social, political, cultural, environment and financial aspects were discussed. After an in depth analysis, strategic issues and thrust areas were identified.  The VMRSP was also formulated during this process. The Gandak consortium structure form the village, district to the central level with the formation of committees at various levels was finalised.

There are 8 fellows associated with the consortium and they work in 40 villages intensively spread across 6 districts. Another 102 villages are also in contact with the consortium and the process.

STRATEGIC THRUST

1.   Restoration of basic and primary education,

2.   Right to work and equal wages,

3.   People’s empowerment and self reliance,

4.   Protection and Conservation of natural resources for environmental balance,

5.   Protection of cultural heritage and

6.   Gender Equality with focus on women’s participation in decision making at every level

 

AREA OF OPERATION

DISTRICT

FELLOWS

CONTEXT VILLAGES

CONTACT VILLAGES

TOTAL

4

4

20

122

142

 

INTERVENTIONS, IMPACT AND ISSUES

–        40 women SHGs have been formed.

–        The villagers raise nurseries and sapling of various species locally. Over 2000 trees have been planted so far.

–        Consortium structure well established and functioning at Gram, Zilla and Kendriya levels.   Gram samitis are constituted in all the 142 villages (40 + 102 contact villages).

–        Women representation 50% in all the samitis.

–        In all the 142 villages, efforts are in progress to form Gram Koshs to inculcate habit of small savings among villagers. Grain banks are also being revived in most places.

–        5 Swaraj Adhyayan Kendra (study centres) set up.

–        Significant local contribution in all programmes.

–        Gram sabhas are being revived. 5 already reconstituted.

–        Wages of women has increased in one village due to concerted efforts by the villagers.

–        School buildings are being renovated through shramdan and contributions from the community. So far, 5 school buildings have been renovated.

–        The attendance of teachers and students has increased in most schools.

–        Organic and bio farming practices introduced among farmers through workshops and meetings.

–        PRIs are strengthened through regular meetings, discussions and providing information.

–        Training programmes organised for newly elected panchayat members.

–        Women and dalits are encouraged to take an active role in PRIs.

–        Creating and strengthening grassroots advocacy and pressure groups to address issues and force the state administration to take positive action.

–        Networking with other like-minded institutions, organisations and individuals for wider impact.

–        Pockets of the operational area are naxalite infested. This creates problems as the naxalites are averse to mobilising and organising by other agencies as it is perceived as a threat to their influence and hold.

–        Subtle and indirect efforts by vested interest in the community to fragment the people’s movement.

–        Limited resources (financial and human) hinder expansion and creating impact on a large scale.