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Amplifying the voices of communities in India

India Programme / Partner story

Photo provided by FXB Consortium

In two small villages in Jharkhand, Kumkuma and Taro, some villagers recognised the challenges faced by children who dropped out of school. This was especially the case during the Covid-19 crisis. They wanted to do something about it. They raised the issue at the Gram Sabha (or village assembly), and together they came up with a solution. They would conduct community classes for children to replace school lessons. The Gram Sabha set up a fund to support the initiative.

Child In Need Institute (CINI), a not-for-profit organisation working to achieve sustainable development among communities in the region, helped train the community educators. Overall, the initiative was a success – some 108 children began re-attending classes, and when the schools re-opened, the trainers adapted to offer additional classes after school instead.

“An initiative such as this one has far-reaching consequences as it helps put a stop to child labour,” says Paromita Chowdhury, programme officer for the India Programme. “This work shows the power of community-led action on behalf of children, and it reminds us that some of the best supports for children come from grassroots action led by ordinary, yet amazing people.”

In the Dhanbad district, also in Jharkhand, community members wanted to find ways to address child marriage, so they came together to discuss possible solutions. Not-for-profit organisation Chetna Vikas got involved and helped mobilise both parents and adolescents to raise community awareness and support for reducing child marriage. They led a painting exhibition, conducted street plays, and organised debates. As a result, the number of child marriages decreased, and more girls stayed in school. “Chetna Vikas promoted change from within by enabling community-driven solutions,” says Paromita. “I believe it is time to recognise the role of natural leaders and community action in supporting children’s protection and wellbeing.”

The coastal district of South 24 Parganas in district of West Bengal is regularly affected by extreme climate events like super-cyclones and tidal surges. Not-for-profit organisation Praxis led a group of eight organisations through an inclusive process where the community identified loss of livelihoods, domestic violence, early marriage, water crises, and severe natural disasters as some of the problems that needed the most attention. Together they developed action plans to address these issues, which has strengthened community leadership and skills towards taking coherent, durable actions.

These are some examples that demonstrate how bringing diverse voices of communities together can help the people to work out solutions for their problems. We believe that when communities determine choices through an inclusive process, they have greater collective ownership of the solutions aiming to address structural change in their own communities. Learn more about Child In Need Institute, Chetna Vikas, and Praxis, by clicking on the names to visit their websites. You can read more about the India Programme by clicking here.