Smart Panchayat

Panchayat Reforms Program

Though Jagatsinghpur/Kujang area in Odisha, has become one of the favorite industrial destinations of the country and has always remained socially and politically at the forefront of Odisha, yet one important pattern emerging since the early 1990s has been the rise of inequality within both urban and rural areas.There was a felt need to lower the incidence of poverty and reversing the pattern of growing inequality and it was recognized in 2009, by a joint team of PPL & FIDR, that this would require a comprehensive strategy.To complement the public goods and services provided for by the government (specifically Jagatsinghpur district at the GP levels) there was a recognized scope for making social spending a more powerful tool to deal with rising inequality. Hence the justification for complementing the government subsidies with more direct support to poor households to increase equity. Improving human development outcomes required specific and well-targeted programmes and that is the reason for the genesis of a Panchayat Program. Since 15 Sep, 2009, we are implementing an innovative and comprehensive intervention program in two Gram Panchayats in the industrial belt of Jagatsinghpur District in Odisha. This is a Program under the Sustainable Business Response, supported by PPL – Paradeep Phosphates Limited. Directly reaching over 12000 populations, the Program is often cited as a Best Practice in Sustainable Responsible Business (SRB), in the Eastern Region of India and has been mentioned by peer industries and the government agencies on many occasions.

Besides implementation, FIDR has taken the lead in i) assessing what benefits and impacts does CSR actually bring beyond company borders to the economy and society at large? ii) How can managers, policy makers and stakeholders better measure and evaluate its impacts? iii) What does this mean for smart mixes of public policies and corporate strategy?

In spite of the high volatility in the area which has hit international headlines (in the form of anti-industry brigade opposing industrial projects in several industrial hubs in the area), FIDR has been successful significantly in securing the local buy-in, endorsement and sustained partnerships in community programs in Health, Education, Water & Sanitation, Youth Skills and Social Enterprise.

The Program has earned a high proportion of community support, as indicated in the below figure, based on an assessment. The Social Return on Investment (SROI), so far under the Program has registered over 300% (average) which accounts for stakeholders’ views of impact, puts financial ‘proxy’ values on all those impacts identified by stakeholders which do not typically have market values. Under SROI approach, the aim is to include the values of people in the two Panchayats that are often excluded from markets in the same terms as used in markets that is money, in order to give people a voice in resource allocation decisions.

Total Village Development

You might be aware of the themes which constitute a more holistic view of development under the total village management approach. FIDR, though adopted the empirical models of development in the villages, brought about a host of innovations at the micro, household levels to help synergize the themes and make a household as the unit of development or a point of convergence of development parameters under the village management approach. The key thrust areas of FIDR are:- Natural Resources Management- Health- Nutrition & Sanitation- Education- Renewable Energy- Livelihoods- Women’s’ Empowerment- Capacity Building

Much improved socio-economic status due to sustained livelihoods, increased savings, more productive spends in health & education.So far we have constructed 850 IHLs, 8 School toilets, 32 water point and 21 bathing enclosure for women have been constructed and made usable. Community labour has been a significant contribution that made this project possible and this contribution indicates that communities see value in the safe practices, operation and maintenance of the IHLs and the water network.

Village Developement

The strategy focuses on smallholders, productivity, and markets. FIDR works with the aim to help small farmers become more professional growers. We do this by extending science-based know-how, facilitating access to quality inputs, and linking smallholders to markets in profitable ways. This adds value for rural communities, and sustainably improves food security. By helping small farmers become more professional growers, FIDR wants to achieve added value for rural communities& improve food security in sustainable ways. Smallholders produce part of their own food needs, and a surplus that helps feed their countries & supply international markets.

With the right kinds of agricultural technologies and supporting services such as extension, credit, and microinsurance, smallholders could increase their production significantly and sustainably. In the process, they would improve their own food security and that of their communities and countries. ‘Inclusive’ agricultural growth would be promoted, the fundamental basis for equitable economic development.

FIDR has been playing the catalyst in mobilizing, sensitizing and hand holding the individuals in understanding the dividends of self -development and practicing activities commensurate with an “infant to adult” progressive life cycle. FIDR has been implementing the Integrated Community Development program, affecting the lives of the people through more healthy children, better latrine facilities, much reduced morbidities due to improved sanitation infrastructure and practices, much enhanced incomes owing to high-return livelihood enterprises (like Duckery, Dairy, Mushroom, Tailoring), more skilled Youths, educated and empowered adolescent girls and increased number of Youths actively participating in the knowledge economy. The Programs have been producing over 70% of more confident and employable young individuals in the areas than ever.

Child centric Panchayat Development

FIDR believes that poverty has its greatest impact on children, and that the experience of poverty as a child can have lasting consequences into adult life. The focus of our development work is therefore on building communities where children’s needs are met and where they can grow and develop. In our Programs we have realized that children’s lives have been better only when their family and community situation improved. Adults particularly those from vulnerable groups through our Programs – actively participated in community development and ensured that their interests were met.

Child Centered Community Development has prompted us to specially design programs to meet and refine children’s social and emotional needs and to deal with children’s immediate physical needs when they were living in poverty. FIDR, at the village and Panchayat levels has been implementing interventions to impact the critical stages in a child’s development such as early childhood, which largely determine a child’s potential.

Panchayat Development

By taking part in development activities children acquire skills and confidence that not only help them now but in later life. FIDR is helping children access their rights to necessary healthcare, basic education, and healthy environment and participation in decisions that affect their lives.The FIDR Programs have helped in reducing the dropout rates and the success rates in the high schools.

As an example, across schools (at Panchayat schools in coastal Odisha)a) The pass % has been approx. exceeding 86% in 2012 over 54% in the previous yearsb) Drop out % of approx. 3.9% in comparison to 22% in 2008-09 To optimise retention to 100%, specifically in class X remains FIDR has embarked on a teachers’ orientation program to facilitate increased retention. Students of Class x are also getting free coaching facility that enhances their exam performance.