Adivasi

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.

"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.

Water: essential for life

By Jon Hargreaves

Our partner, Seva, working among tribal people in Maharashtra had gone to distribute SD cards for latest audio programmes for the 'speaker boxes' when they discovered the community in Kahandol in great distress due to lack of water. They found people desperately trying to dig pits to find water, but with little effect.

Although HCR is sponsoring a well for the village, which is now in the process of being dug (see https://www.h-c-r.org/news/2019/3/4/time-is-running-out), Seva’s Chief Executive, Shilpa Shinde said they had to do something to alleviate the community’s distress. After hunting around to find a water tanker they eventually managed to get hold of one, which arrived in Kahandol village late in the evening. They have arranged for a water tanker to come to the village every two days until the new well is completed.

We’re so proud of our Indian team-mates for this act of compassion!

Doesn't the man's face say it all?

Time is running out!

By Jon Hargreaves

HCR does not drill wells! We support communities in crisis, through media. We work with partners who do this kind of thing. It’s not in our strategic plan. So we don’t drill wells…. usually that is!

But then sometimes, when the need is great, one has no choice. Which is why we’ve done it before !

And we need to do it again as time is running out for one marginalised Adivasi (indigenous tribal) community in Maharastra, India.

We have reached out to those who do drill wells as their core business, but they are unable to help. So we're going to drill a well!

Our grateful thanks to those who have enabled us to make this a reality.

For more information contact: hcruk@h-c-r.org



"Only 28 days until the water runs out!"

By Alice Stout

The river bed is drying out.

The river bed is drying out.

Says Patil Ramdas Warde, the leader of a village in Maharashtra. Such is the plight of many tribal communities across the county. The lack of rain has led to major crop failure. Eighty per cent of the rice plantations have failed to yield a harvest. As the Patil – meaning ‘village head’ – shared his worries with us, the need of the Adivasi Village Project became increasingly apparent.

The dichotomy of India

India is the fastest growing economy in the world, yet when we went to pay for our hotel stay in Nashik, reception could not accept an international credit card. We experienced similar problems trying to withdraw cash from ATMs. As I upload this blog using 4G from my mobile hotspot, villages 10 kilometres from here do not have a sustainable water supply. It is such a bizarre phenomenon to be surrounded by all the technology of the modern age yet know basic needs for daily living are lacking around us. But there is an incredible opportunity here for positive social change using media.

HCR is working with Seva Social Welfare Foundation to bring health, education, and social development through the “speaker boxes” project.The speaker-MP3 players, provided to every family in the village, are filled with informative and entertaining programmes to help alleviate the problems that come from dirty water, non-nutritional food, and lack of sanitation healthcare.

“Speaker boxes” making an astonishing impact

It is six months since the "speaker boxes" were first distributed, and already the impact is astonishing.

 “People are changing their habits. There is good hygiene now, people are boiling water, and there are fewer stomach problems than before," says the Patil. He told us that the tribe learned how to construct a dam through the Adivasi Village Project.

“Without your programmes, we would have already run out of water.”

Patil Ramdas also told us that when the monsoon does arrive in June, and the reservoir begins to fill, the first rain collected in the dam makes people very sick. HCR and Seva are now supplying chlorine tablets to prevent cholera and other common diseases after the first rainfall.

But now the urgent need is to find a specialist on-the-ground group to come and aid the village – drilling a well would mean they never run out of water again.

Patil Ramdas is concerned for his community.

Patil Ramdas is concerned for his community.