The availability and quality of water and sanitation facilities in Madhya Pradesh has been quite poor as compared to other states in the country. It is an enormous challenge to provide access to water to such a large population, spread in diverse ecological regions. While sustained access to water continues to be a challenge, ensuring quality of water poses an even bigger challenge. Samarthan believes that community participation and decentralized management of the rural water schemes are very essential to provide safe water and sanitation in the rural areas. Therefore, we primarily focus on strengthening local institutions like the panchayats, user groups, community based monitoring groups etc for better water and sanitation practices. We also engage at the district administration and policy advocacy level so as to make our field initiatives sustainable.
Child Rights and Panchayat
Since the early 1990s there has been an interest, especially by UNICEF, to focus on children as a special group to promote sanitation and hygiene at home, in the community as well as in schools and aanganwadis (pre-school and nutrition centres). The argument underpinning the focus on children is based on the links between WASH and child health, education and sustainable development on one side, and the perceived potential of children to mobilise the family and community to adopt hygienic and safe sanitation practices, on the other. This has led to schools, donors and governments enthusiastically promoting the concept of child participation in WASH to ensure a ‘joyful’ adoption of safe and hygienic practices.
Samarthan is implementing a pilot experiment in 10 Panchayats of Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh to strengthen the rights of children to water, sanitation and hygiene in order to realize children’s rights to survival and development on an equitable basis. The project is a joint initiative of the Save the Children Finland, Water Aid and Samarthan. It aims to sensitise Schools, Panchayat and block level representatives to the issues facing children so that they can take action for their resolution.
Adolescents and Reproductive Health
Adolescents and youth represent almost one-third of the population of India. Adolescent pregnancy, excess risk of maternal and infant mortality, sexually transmitted infections and reproductive tract infections in adolescence, and rapidly rising incidence of HIV in this age group, are some of the public health challenges that characterise this group. Matters are made worse by the fact that discussion on these issues is taboo in society so that the youth fall prey to quacks. In this respect Samarthan has been implementing a programme that targets youth by providing them education on reproductive health through life skills. Initially the programme was spread over 120 Panchayats but it has been increased to 205 Panchayats in the three blocks of Sehore, Ichchawar and Budni. In the current year the programme covered over 15000 youth.
State Training and Resource Centre (STRC) for the state of Chhattisgarh
Samarthan has been working since November 2008 as the State Training Resource Centre for NACO in Chhattisgarh. As the STRC to NACO, Samarthan works in close co-ordination with the Chhattisgarh State AIDS Control Society for providing training to the Targeted Intervention (TI) Partners across the state. The role of the STRC involves:
- Need based training of TIs as per NACP III technical and operational guidelines
- Enhancing the capacity of NGOs and civil society organizations in proposal development for NACP funded targeted intervention projects
- Undertaking operational research and evaluation of TIs