Koshi Consortium

KOSHI CONSORTIUM

Save Koshi Padyatra: The Activists and people of Koshi starting 126 KM long Padayatra.

The Koshi River, a tributary of the Ganga, emerges from the Central Himalayas, and after a turbulent fall from the heights of the mighty mountain ranges through Nepal, continues its turbulence before meeting the Ganga in the Terai and plains.

Many a gigantic projects on the Koshi in the last century have failed to control the river, which changes its course often depending on the shift of the natural drainages. In their wake these projects have failed to control floods. Nor have they provided better irrigation facilities and produced more energy for the people the valleys of this and other tributaries of the Ganga. Additionally the bunds erected on either sides of the river have done anything but distribute the floodwaters in more and more areas. These have only managed to enhance the wetlands and destroy crops of the poor peasantry living in its valley and within the bund area.

The situation seemed to be worsening and in 1993, a total of 192 NGOs, POs and individuals got together and formed the Koshi Consortium. In 1996, the seeds of Swaraj Forum were sown here and the Consortium was among the first to join the Forum when it was formally formed in 1997.

The Consortium then took up the Participatory Strategic Planning process in the villages that its activists worked in collaboration with 50 like-minded organisations, in 226 villages. This was undertaken between November 1999 and October 2002 in these villages, which fell in eight districts  – Saharsa, Supoul, Madhepura, Araria, Purnia, Katihar, Madhubani and Naugachhiya (Bhagalpur).

The PSP approach has helped both the consortium members and the village communities to analyse the issues facing the region and take collective action to find solutions. The Koshi consortium convener feels that ‘PSP has not only brought more clarity on the issues due to in-depth analysis but more importantly it has helped women to be actively associated with the struggle. One can also find a gradual change in men’s attitude towards women’. A total of 226 villages were part of the PSP process. About 697 people have been trained in the PSP methodology in the region. While intensive work of the consortium is in 8 districts there has been a lot of awareness and interest in the remaining three districts also. There are six fellows (3 men and 3 women) in the consortium working intensively in 30 villages. Besides these 30 villages, another 37 villages in the neighbourhood are also motivated and take active part in the programme.

 

Five Fellows took up the responsibility and finished the work, which enabled the Koshi Consortium to carry out its post PSP activities.

 

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

 

DISTRICTS

FELLOWS

VILLAGES

TOTAL

INTENSIVE WORK

CONTACTS

INTENSIVE WORK

CONTACT

6

2

3

30

37

67

 

Interventions, Impact and Issues

–        Gram samiti in 67 villages, zilla samitis are formed in all the 8 districts and there is a kendriya samiti.

–        Equal opportunity and space given to women and men in all the programmes and samitis.

–        As part of IRN, there is a broad based people’s movement being built against construction of large dams.

–        Coordinated efforts and support at all levels among the three consortiums in the State i.e. Koshi, Gandak and Ganga.

–        People in the 67 villages are organised and grassroots advocacy work is well established in the region.

–        Anti liquor campaign being taken up actively by women.

–        50 women SHGs formed.

–        Wall writing, padyatras, rallies organised regularly to highlight issues.

–        Nursery raising and tree plantation taken up extensively to check soil erosion. So far 1500 trees have been planted.

–        The village communities in three villages run three schools and one basic education school.

–        100 meters road laid by villagers of Babuan through shramdan.

–        Periodical publication of posters, pamphlets etc. highlighting the issues of the region.

–        Regular contribution to the SJ- Bihar newsletter Swaraj patra.

–        Participation in government programmes like pulse polio.

–        Periodical training programmes organised for fellows, volunteers and various samiti members on PSP and other relevant topics.

–        Panchayats and gram sabhas are the focal areas for development. Awareness building on the rights and responsibilities of the gram sabha, educating the people on electing the right candidates in panchayat elections, motivating women to contest elections etc.

–        Self- analysis is taken up annually with the active involvement and participation of all stakeholders- villagers, fellows, representatives of organisations etc.

–        There is a need to identify, establish contact and network with similar groups in Nepal.