Jharkhand, being one of India’s economically poorest states, faces a quite unique challenge when it comes to the growth and development of its population. Predominantly dependent on rainfed agriculture, the vagaries in climate and weather conditions have severely hindered prosperity in the region. With sustenance through agriculture being diﬃcult to achieve in rural areas, youth tend to migrate en masse to greener pastures of big cities, most often outside Jharkhand. The remaining population battles for few existing employment and livelihood opportunities. This compounded with age old caste stratiﬁcation and discrimination accentuates the default disenfranchisement of people living on the margin. Beyond economic freedom even the basic voice of the community gets lost somewhere amidst this tussle, thus long-term solutions like ‘Gram Sabha’ or local self governance have not got the desired attention and result in the region.
Partnering Hope Into Action (PHIA) Foundation, with ﬁrm a belief in social justice and inclusion of all the voices in the society, has set upon the task of strengthening local democracy by initiating a programme with the marginalised communities in the region. With support from Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative (APPI), it has started implementing ‘Strengthening Local Governance’, a programme devised around local self governance, and capacity building towards it with the aim of bringing equity, inclusion and social justice to 358 villages across 40 panchayats in three blocks of three districts in Jharkhand state for a period of three years (November 2017 to October 2020).
PHIA intervened by utilizing the existing network of civil society organisations active in the region, building synergies with four grassroot civil society organizations namely Society for Reformation & Advancement of Adivasis (ASRA), Arouse Society, Lok Jagritiy Kendra (LJK) and SAMVAD who have had a continual presence in the region and with communities. The aim was to design and implement a program that would be sensitive to the local needs, promote inclusion and co-create eﬀective solutions through a good governance model which in turn will add to the resilience building in the community. After months of eﬀorts on the ground with communities across the region, PHIA has brought inclusivity in Gram Sabha discussions by giving voices to more than 70% of women and other socially backward communities. In addition, traditional leaders who were sidelined in the past are now engaged in organizing and planning the village development agenda. Overall, our team is engaging with 621 leaders on a day to day basis.
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