Community Development

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

"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.

Spraying for peace ...

By Johnny Fisher and Hazeen Latif

These community volunteers in Majukay are amazing! Despite the intense summer heat and the fasting period, they got out and sprayed mosquito hotspots in their community to prevent Dengue fever infections.

Has it made a difference? This year we heard people saying, more people are gathering together again in the places where community happens. In previous years there were too many mosquitoes and people avoided their normal meeting places in mosquito season. People meeting together is a big win for peacebuilding and the mosquito numbers are down - that’s a big win in the battle against disease.

Local government funded the spraying activities after hearing HCR Pakistan’s partner Naway Saher (NSCSG) talk about community concerns on local radio.

“We didn’t realize that our voice was so effective and strong!”

By Hazeen Latif

Change is happening and its infectious! The development changes we have seen in the last few months in Majukay, a community in Charsadda, Pakistan, were almost unimaginable 4 years ago when the community members set ambitious goals for being a healthy thriving society. It feels like a corner has been turned, and the change is gaining momentum.

  • The main street leading into the village is being upgraded with a concrete surface. Until a few months ago it was a rough, soil track scarred with ditches and puddles.

Concreting the road surface. Majukay, April 2019. (HCR Pakistan)

Concreting the road surface. Majukay, April 2019. (HCR Pakistan)

  • A new transformer is soon to be installed. This summer people can enjoy a cool breeze from their fans. Previously the low capacity in the electricity supply meant people suffered in the heat with fans running at tortoise speed.

  • The local administration has agreed to spray the community to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and spreading Dengue fever. Summer heat is on its way and with it the risk of Dengue increases.

Structural development like this doesn’t happen easily because of bureaucratic inertia. But something new has happened in the last year few months. Local authorities have started to release funds for development as they pay new attention to the community needs, and to the appetite for change.  Other are taking notice too. Nearby villages want to know how to bring similar changes to their own communities.

“It is all due to our radio program and WhatsApp group”

Zahid Ullah Zahid, who heads the Naway Saher Community Services Group.

Councillor in NS Studio, April 2019. HCR Pakistan

Councillor in NS Studio, April 2019. HCR Pakistan

Naway Saher formed a small radio production team, trained by HCR Pakistan, and, since November 2018, they have been broadcasting a community radio programme in Pushto language on a local FM station. The village voice is getting louder and stronger through radio and it reached the ears of the district councillor.  He decided to support the new structural developments and even came to be interviewed in the radio studio.

“We didn’t realize that our voice was so effective and strong”

One of the newly trained production team members.

So far the Majukay story has been one of gradual change. People have been coming together to discuss issues and establish unity. Less and less people have the mindset that nothing will happen and only the government should do everything. Naway Saher (New Dawn) Community Services Group, supported by HCR Pakistan, has held community workshops, village committees, and youth sports events. Village elders have given their support. Families have started boiling water for drinking to avoid illness from contaminated water sources. In 2016 HCR Pakistan supported the community to dig a well and the well has been giving clean water since. People come from far away to get the only clean drinking water and are claiming that it is a miracle as the water never stops giving odorless good water.

The Majukay story is spreading – upwards, outwards and inwards.

“More people are joining with us” says Zahid Ullah. Not only are surrounding villages wanting to see similar changes, but more people from within the community want to get involved.

Help keep this viral effect going! HCR Pakistan is seeking funding to help Naway Saher become even more inclusive, with more media content created for and by women and girls. We are also seeking funding to help two more communities in nearby districts to develop community-centred media projects. Please contact us if you want to know more, or you can Donate via this web site.