Aroehan is a grassroots organisation that aims to bring about sustainable change in tribal communities in the Jawhar-Mokhada blocks of the newly formed Palghar district of Maharashtra.

AROEHAN is striving to bring sustainable changes to the tribal communities. In 2005-06, 169 children below the age of six died in Mokhada due to malnutrition. This was noticed by the College of Social Work Nirmala Niketan and a field-action project called AROEHAN was initiated.  It started then as an initiative to curb malnutrition, but by micro-planning exercise that was conducted: AROEHAN became aware about the multiplicity and inter-contentedness of various factors that contribute to high malnutrition deaths. It required a shift in strategy and AROEHAN currently works on an integrated approach of development in areas of Right to Health, Education, Livelihood and Good Governance.

Today, Out of 28 Gram panchayats in Mokhada, Aroehan works in 12 Gram Panchayats of Mokhada and 9 Gram Panchayats in Jawhar Taluka of Maharashtra.

The thematic areas of our intervention are as follows:

  1. Health: the focus is on 2 major objectives, keeping in mind the background of the tribal areas where –
  • Create access and acceptance of the already existing health systems
  • Strengthen the health service delivery systems

The chief tools used for attaining these objectives are through –

  • Generating awareness about right to health especially through life skills training programme specific for adolescent girls,
  • Ensuring pro-active Village Health and Sanitation Committees to monitor health status of villagers (women, children, the elderly and disabled in particular), and
  • Monitoring health service delivery through actively engaging trained village volunteers to bring in transparency and accountability
  • Advocacy efforts at Block and District levels to ensure better service delivery

Achievements:

  • 13% Reduction of malnutrition deaths in intervention areas
  • Achieved 100% of ANC care in intervention areas
  • Training of 20 VHNSCs and more than 200 members
  • More than 5% families showing positive health seeking behavioral changes
  • 66% children showed increase in weight on account of Special Feed programme
  • Networking with Block Medical Officers and PHCs for increasing the access of health service delivery systems in interior areas
  1. Education: The education programme aims at ensuring quality education to all students through which they can turn into alert and aware citizens. The Right to Education Act, 2009 has further strengthen the approach and brought in aspects of sustainability. The Education project focuses on following aspects –
  • Sessions on life-skills, environment education etc with Ashram School Students
  • Strengthening of student committees at Ashram Schools to ensure democratic and transparent functioning of Ashram Schools
  • Strengthening of School Management Committees to ensure monitoring of schools and
  • Ensuring that all children are in school and that retention is achieved
  • Active Engagement of parents/villagers in the management of schools

Achievements:

  • 6 School Committees are functional
  • Training of more than 50 SMCs and about 500 members
  • Involvement of SMCs in concurrent monitoring of the schools
  • Parents meeting
  1. Livelihood: Ensuring that relevant Government programmes are implemented to generate sustainable assets in villages to increase employment opportunities and reduce migration; engaging in water solutions and agricultural innovations to impact quality of life of the villagers.

The chief tools used for attaining these objectives are through

  • Group farming activity– group of 5-20 farmers form a livelihood group and do collective marketing. AROEHAN provides the technical support and undertakes capacity building and training of farmers
  • Sheti maitar: Friend of farmers Farmer coordinators are appointed in each group to guide them on crop agronomy, credit handling and market linkages.
  • Demonstration: On- field training to farmers on use of pesticides, construction of ridges etc
  • Rainwater- harvesting work: Construction of cordons and subsurface bunds for storage of water

Achievements: Many things were introduced for the first time in Mokhada:

  • Non-monsoon cropping in Mokhada
  • Concept of Group farming and collective marketing
  • New improved technologies of cultivation, farm management and marketing (Drip irrigation, Seed production, Sericulture, Nurseries, Export markets, GAP certification)
  • Farmers withdrawing from the conventional mind sets of subsistence farming and considering agriculture as an important livelihood option
  • More than 300 farmers trained and associated with AROEHAN
  • More than 100 acres of area brought under vegetable cultivation
  • More than 50 Rain water harvesting structures constructed

4)Governance: Engaging the tribal community in the decision making processes that affect their life through increasing participation in gram sabhas; generating village development plans and promoting collective effort to realize these plans through leadership and team-building work.

  The chief tools used for attaining these objectives are through

  • Formation of Pada Samitis to develop village based leadership (Pada Samiti is a hamlet level committee as per the amendment to the Bombay Gram Panchayat Act)
  • Organize demands for suitable intervention, transparency and accountability with respect to flagships (MGNREGA, FRA, IWMP, IAY, and PDS)
  • Legislative advocacy for issues related to tribal sub plans, flag ship programmes etc
  • Achievements:
  • Formation of more than 20 Pada Samities
  • Concept of Rotational Gram Sabhas in 40% of Gram Panchayats, this was done in order to gain maximum participation of the people.
  • Legislative questions raised in State Assembly for implementation of MGNREGA, Non- payment of wages, connectivity issues of interior villages etc
  • Increased demand of work under MGNREGA

 

Aroehan challenges the existing top-down and city centered development approach and believes that people’s participation in the planning process is important to make the development inclusive and more relevant.

Aroehan believes in strengthening local self governance so that people can effectively access systems that offer services affecting their daily life. It also promotes better functioning of these systems.