Mr. Rudolf Schewnk , State Representative, UNICEF Kolkata & Assam Office visited two Gram Panchayats of Purulia district on 5th October 2005. First he went to Maguria-Lalpur Gram Panchayat under Hura Block where PPIM process was initiated about 4 months back. He interacted with the GP officials (both elected representatives & GP employees) and Gram Panchayat Facilitating Team members (volunteers selected by the GP from each Gram Sansad for providing facilitation support to Gram Unnayan Samitis and community). The GPFT members explained to him the Gram Sansad based Social Map and Natural Resource Map prepared by the community, particularly women and presented before him the household level data and detailed data about every member of the households collected through consecutive neighbourhood meetings.

 

During discussion some major issues came up, e.g.

  •    Why are they adopting participatory planning process?

  •    What are the strengths of this process?

  •    What are the major problems they are facing while installing this process and how are they overcoming them?

  •    Different initiatives taken up for community mobilisation with examples

  •    What kind of support do they need from the upper tier for sustainability of this process?     

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GP officials and GPFT members explained each and every issue quite efficiently. Their main focus was on awareness building of the community and their involvement in development. They also believe, they emphasised, that community needs to be involved, not only in the plan preparation but also in implementation and monitoring process for effective utilisation of different Govt. schemes and strengthening Gram Panchayat as an institution. Their major need is capacity building, facilitation and regular monitoring support from the upper tier. They also need some financial support for mobilisation and plan preparation including some entry point activities.

 

In this GP, some members also wrote songs on participatory planning process and various social development issues like awareness building on health, nutrition, elementary education, women’s empowerment etc. These folk songs can be effectively used to outreach, especially the illiterate and the marginalised sections of the society.

 

From there Mr. Schwenk went to Hura GP in the same block where participatory planning process was initiated in June 2004 on pilot basis. They prepared a holistic Gram Sansad based Gram Panchayat Plan (2005-06), which was already published by the P&RD Deptt. for wide circulation. Now Hura GP has already started implementation of the planned activities through the concerned Gram Unnayan Samitis (GUS). They have also received untied fund from Purulia Zilla Parishad. There the main issue of discussion was on the implementation process, cost effectiveness and assessing the impact.

In Hura GP the GPFT members, under leadership of the GP Pradhan, explained the process of implementation by utilising the concerned Functional Committees of GUSs in organising awareness camps and other livelihood strengthening activities. They also emphasised the strength of cost effectiveness and transparency of the whole process, which is helping them to ensure community contribution for each and every activity and their ownership also. For example, through this process they are motivating the parents of out of school children about the necessity of education and trying to take them back to school and retaining them, about sanitation and other health issues. Through this process 312 HHs are being covered under sanitation programme. For empowering women they are trying to bring each and every woman under the umbrella of SHG. Till date more than 150 women’s SHGs have been formed in this GP and the SHGs are being utilised as building blocks of development. 

Mr. Schwenk expressed his satisfaction about the efficacy of the process. He also congratulated the GP for taking up this initiative and using this as an empowering tool also.