Mewat region is one of the most backward areas of the country. It lags behind in almost all socio-economic and development parametres. It has low levels of literacy, employment, population control, infant and maternal mortality, maternal health and malnutrition. Women suffer from discrimination and are not given enough opportunity to assert themselves.
The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) run by Sukarya, contributes to creating a model or ideal village that has refined socio-economic conditions and then, replicating the success in other far-reaching areas.
The adage, “India lives in its villages” guides this integrated intervention that aims to improve maternal and child health, nutrition of infants and children and overall hygiene and sanitation. It reaches out to rural women with a view to empower them by enhancing their livelihood options. Building capacities of youth and community members, it links them to government schemes and services such as NRHM, JSY, NRLM, PMJDY, SJGSY, IRDP, PMAGY, SBA, health and ICDS. Regular training, IEC and BCC activities and other campaigns help improve knowledge and awareness levels while promoting healthy behaviours and practices.
With a focus on women, children and youth, the first project was implemented in Mangar village, Faridabad district, with the help of the Bird Group in the year 2011. The success of this project (design and model) was replicated in the three remote and underdeveloped villages of Neemli, Palasli and Lapala of Tijara block in district Alwar of Rajasthan in December 2015 for a period of three years. The total population covered under the IRDP programme was approximately 15,000. During this period, several activities were rolled out. While some were one-off events, most were regular and ongoing interventions. Health clinics were organised with few coinciding with the government Routine Immunization camps. Health awareness sessions were held with different groups, commemorating special days. Home visits and patient follow-up by Community Health Workers helped take up issues related to nutrition, sanitation, hygiene and immunization. Village level committees were set up to drive home key messages. Women self help groups were formed and strengthened with guidance on skill-based trainings and income generation /livelihood activities. Youth were reached out through vocational centres (Computer and English classes), training on life skills and personality development, setting up of youth clubs and developing the cadre of youth volunteers. Training and capacity building sessions for PRIs and government frontline workers was also taken up.
Broadly, the IRDP intervention is categorised into four thematic areas:
Focus area 1: Basic primary services
These basic primary services are being provided through health clinics and setting up of vocational training centres that impart computer and English classes along with life skills for the youth. It also entails forming and strengthening SHGs, providing skill-based training to rural women and promoting income generation activities for them.
Focus area 2: Behaviour Change Communication
Awareness and sensitisation of the community is an ongoing process that creates greater awareness and proactive action towards maternal and child health, preventive measures for health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. Regular campaigns against open defecation, taking up of gender related issues and environmental concerns are other domains where continuous advocacy is undertaken.
Focus area 3: Safe drinking water
Helping communities make the connect between safe drinking water and health, Sukarya has dedicated itself to providing safe drinking water in Government schools, ensuring regular water supply to girl’s toilets and for the purpose of community drinking in the village.
Focus area 4: Capacity building of PRIs
Efforts are being made to link government schemes such as the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSY), Swarna Jayanti Gram SwarozgarYojna (SJGSY), Pradhan Mantri Aadarsh Gram Yojna (PMAGY), School Based Assessment (SBA) and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), amongst others to the community. Formation and activation of village level committees like the Village Health and Sanitation committee, Village Education committee and Village Environment committee are also a step in this direction.