Adivasi Lives Matter

In today's tech savvy world, information is just a click away with our mobile phones and computers, or if those aren't in reach, our televisions and even radios all help keep us informed. But what if we didn't have any of these available to us? How would we find out important health and community information?

HCR have been working in partnership with Seva Social Welfare Foundation in remote parts of India’s Maharashtra state, home to many indigenous groups known as Adivasis. The Adivasi community face prejudice from mainstream India and suffer poorer health. This is all changing with the innovative 'speaker box' project which is bringing important health information and education to households.

Two years of promoting peace

Two years ago a small team from HCR set up a community-centred radio station in the remote town of Garsen in eastern Kenya’s Tana River County, training a team of volunteers from different tribal groups. Ahead of the August 2017 elections, the station was designed to promote peace and social development in an area that had all-too-often experienced violent conflict along ethnic lines.

Today, two years on, Amani FM has become a vibrant part of the community and a powerful voice for peace, as was seen this week as young people came out to celebrate in a number of “Peace Caravan” road shows around the county, culminating in a football tournament.

Crowds gather to watch the Amani FM Road Show,  Amani Ni Mimi , or Peace Starts with Me

Crowds gather to watch the Amani FM Road Show, Amani Ni Mimi, or Peace Starts with Me

Hundreds of people turned up during the week to watch short peace plays and hear local leaders calling the community to reject violence and work together. Under the theme Amani Ni Mimi, or ‘peace starts with me’, community members shared their stories of the pain they experienced during communal conflict, saying that it must not happen again.

“Amani FM has shown us a good example of how to make Tana River a peaceful county,” said one community leader, “

The Amani FM birthday celebrations culminated in a football match between the community and the Rapid Deployment Unit of the police force in a demonstration that together the people of Tana River can live in harmony, stand against ethnic violence and eliminate extremism to make the County a great place to live.

Well done team Amani FM - we’re proud to be associated with you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Members of the Rapid Deployment Unit lift the trophy for the  Amani Ni Mimi  community football match

Members of the Rapid Deployment Unit lift the trophy for the Amani Ni Mimi community football match

Then: August 2017 and the Amani FM tower nears completion under sunny east African skies

Then: August 2017 and the Amani FM tower nears completion under sunny east African skies

Then: July 2017 at the end of the first Amani FM workshop ahead of the elections

Then: July 2017 at the end of the first Amani FM workshop ahead of the elections

Creative radio programmes like this one tackle the challenge of extremism and radicalisation of youth

Creative radio programmes like this one tackle the challenge of extremism and radicalisation of youth

Community cleans up

“The garbage situation was getting so bad in our town, that something had to be done about it,” says Harriet Atyang, the station manager of HCR partner station, Amani FM, in eastern Kenya’s Tana River county.

Approached by the Kenya Red Cross in an effort to help the problem, Amani FM was able to go on air and get a conversation going about the importance of keeping the environment clean. This conversation led to the youth in Garsen to participate in a town-wide cleanup.

Although the county department’s garbage collection unit was doing its best, it was getting overwhelmed. “During the rainy season we see a dramatic increase in cases of Cholera,” says Harriet, “Much of which is due to poor sanitation and hygiene and the garbage situation contributes to that.”

Several young people were joined by Kenya Red Cross workers and Amani FM presenters during the cleanup operation, which put into practice all the talk of keeping the environment clean.

Amani FM presenters, Red Cross workers and youth join together to clean up their town in Tana River County

Amani FM presenters, Red Cross workers and youth join together to clean up their town in Tana River County

"You kept your promise!"

By Jon Hargreaves

 What a joy to be back in the remote Maharashtran village of Kahandol in time to celebrate the inauguration of their two new wells.  Just four months earlier I had been standing on a dried up riverbed with my Indian colleagues, Shilpa, Sam and Akshay and the head of the village, Patil Ramdas Warde.  Ramdas told us how the drought had brought great hardship to his village, with only 28 days of water, and he asked us if there was anything we could do to help.

HCR began working with Seva Social Welfare Foundation (Seva) in January 2018, with a vision to use a community-centred media approach to transform indigenous tribal communities, known as Adivasis, who are some of the most disadvantaged people in the country.  “In the last 10 months since the first audio programmes were distributed we have seen a dramatic decline in many illnesses as people have changed their habits around water, sanitation and hygiene,” Shilpa Shinde Seva’s chief executive told me.  Besides monthly health camps, the community have been receiving creative audio programmes on “speakerboxes” (Mp3 players) which have already brought about significant change on a range of issues ranging from health and hygiene to livelihoods and the importance of educating female children. 

But it was the water crisis that has focused the attention of the Seva team for the last four months.  With support from HCR and the very generous gift of British family with a passion for India, the Seva team facilitated the sinking of two wells and tanks that will mean the village will never lack for water again. 

New wells and water tanks mean the people of Kahandol will never run out of water again.

New wells and water tanks mean the people of Kahandol will never run out of water again.

After colourful tribal dances and music played on traditional instruments followed by a community meal, Ramdas turned to me and said, “This water has given the gift of life to this community for generations to come.  You came back.  You kept your promise.  Thank you!”

 

In September we will be facilitating a major evaluation to assess how the project has impacted the community with a view to scaling the project up to reach many more tribal villages across the state and then across the country.

If you would like to support this project or would like further information please contact hcruk@h-c-r.org.

"Electric fan was no better than a handheld fan!"

by Hazeen Latif

Picture this: a village with around 120 households; men, women, children and elderly all living together in conditions very few would dare to live. As the night falls the world beyond the village illuminates with lights glowing from house windows and on the streets. Cool air wafts from air conditioners and fans are blowing. But this village in KPK looks like a campsite with candle lights getting dimmer and dimmer as night get deeper.

 “We can’t sleep at night as the children cry of mosquito bites and heat,” says a local resident. Because of low electricity voltage and power cuts, electric fan speed is no better than a handheld fan. The problem was caused by a 25 kVA transformer with weak and rusted links, which connected the village to the national electricity supply grid. The transformer has been repaired over two dozen times and cannot be repaired anymore.

But thanks to our partner’s community radio program “Naway Saher”, which highlighted this issue before summer reached peak temperatures, a brand new 50kVA transformer has been installed replacing the older one. The voltage is very stable and community houses are much happier places to be. Residents say “this good fan speed is much better than hand fan!”

New transformer in Majukay village, May 2019. HCR Pakistan

New transformer in Majukay village, May 2019. HCR Pakistan