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November, 2010

The Official E-Newsletter of Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty


November, 2010

The Official E-Newsletter of Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty From the CEO’s desk

Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) is an autonomous society of the Department of Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh.


Collectives in Action -4 Leveraging the CBO structure to improve quality of education Health and Nutrition


Community Resource Persons 11 (CRP) Strategy

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Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty, HUDA Hermitage Complex, 4th floor, Hill Fort Road, Hyderabad -- 500004. Ph: +91-40-2329 8981/76/80, 2329 8665/92, 2329 8461/67 Fax: +91-40-2321 1848 Visit our official website at: Send your feedback and suggestions to:

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

From the CEO’s desk... “We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.” -- Swami Vivekananda To act, when one is needed to act is what determines our future. A good future. It is all the more important to act especially in adverse situations. Rural AP is in distress; Poorest of the Poor SHG women were being targetted for dumping cash by the MFIs with an intention to make profits based on a perverted business model that revolves around a perfected coercive recovery practice to ensure 100% returns irrespective of the borrower status. The passing of Microfinance Ordinance was one such important step taken by the Government of AP to protect the interests of the Community. The community had to be protected from the exploitation by the microfinance institutions through usurious interest rates and coercive means of recovery. In spite of criticisms and attempts to thwart our noble intentions to rectify the deficiencies that have crept within the Microfinance sector, we are sure of our intent and believe that everything will work for the benefit of the poor community eventually. Our last issue stressed on our ‘institutional framework’. This issue focuses on our efforts to empower the community to be responsible for its own welfare. ‘The story on Education outlines how our CBOs are playing a central role in improving the ‘Quality of education’ for the


poor and rural students. The community participation has been ensuring that the gaps in the delivery chain are immediately pointed out and rectified. The focus of our Health unit has been of breaking the ‘cycle of malnutrition’ and provide preventive healthcare measures negating the need of curative measures. Community managed Nutrition cum Day Care centers (NDCCs) help in addressing these issues in a sustainable and cost effective manner. The objective is to improve both nutrition status and health-related behaviour among pregnant and lactating women as well as children less than three years of age. Collective Action is our strength and involving the community through the CRP (Community Resource Persons) Strategy is the backbone of our initiatives. We have discussed in brief the need for the strategy and the role they play in several initiatives. CRP strategy has proved to be an ingenious solution to ensure community participation and ownership of initiatives. As our war against poverty rages on, our faith in the community remains unfaltering and we firmly believe that the final frontier will be reached. Jai Hind!!! B.Rajsekhar (IAS)

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

Collectives in Action – Leveraging the CBO structure to improve quality of education Seshukumari Bhupatiraju (Education) Historically, community had always played a key role in establishment and maintaining of educational institutions in India. However, after independence, education became the responsibility of the State and thus the role of community and local bodies got marginalized. Recent studies have indicated that the quality of learning in the government primary schools has not been up to the mark. The level of involvement of the community in ensuring quality education has also been very insignificant. The efforts made by the state to revive community participation in education cannot be undermined. In many instances, however, initiatives planned have remained merely on paper with Capacity building initiatives for the community being largely ritualistic. In this sense, the efforts of the state have not been able to achieve complete and true community participation in all aspects of education. Another major lacuna in previous attempts at ensuring community participation is the absence of focused efforts to engage the community in issues relating to quality of education, understanding their needs, aspirations and expectations from education and incorporating the same into education system.


The existence of the large network of Self Help Groups (SHG) in each village, and the well formed Village Organisations (VO) as well as the Mandal Mahila Samakhyas (MMS) are ideally located to take up the task of monitoring the status of every child in the village and also ensure that all the institutions function well. “Safeguarding Child Rights and Enhancing Quality of Education through Community Mobilisation and Participation of Gram Panchayats” is a part of the APRPRP project. Under this project, capacities of the MMS, VO and the SHG are built to play the role of systematically monitoring schools. This projects aims at making these community structures

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

sensitive towards the educational needs of the poor children and improve the quality of education in government schools. Information Dissemination by the community: Rallies are used as means of spreading awareness about the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Messages and information regarding elimination of child labour, children’s retention in

school, the Right to Education Act, the Right to Food, and child rights are written on the walls in the villages.Youth are encouraged to participate in this process.


Role of the CBOs: VO level Education Sub-Committees undertake periodical monitoring visits to schools and hostels of the project area. The subcommittees to monitor the status of state run educational institutions use a 24-point checklist. Minor issues that require no financial inputs are solved locally and those involving financial decisions are taken to the notice of

the Gram Panchayat and higher levels. Regular meetings are held with the school management to discuss the following issues:

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

• Children’s attendance • Conduct of the Assembly Hour • Personal hygiene • Implementation of the midday meal scheme • Teacher functioning • Learning levels of pupils • School infrastructure and facilities • Receipt and usage of school grants • Extra-curricular activity • Quality of education To engage children during holiday period at the end of academic year, Summer Schools are organised, to sustain the interest in educ ation and to prepare them for the next acade-


mic year’s curriculum. Meetings are held with members of the Education Sub-Committee and head teachers in the mandals to discuss the gaps in the education of children in schools, which are shared with CBOs and their support is sought in the conduct of Summer School. Head teachers are urged to regularly monitor the conduct of Summer School. These steps have ensured that community takes care of the educational needs and aspirations and keeps a tab on the concerned authorities take care of them. Instead of blaming the State or go to private players, this has ensured that intended benefits accrue from State schemes.

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

Health and Nutrition Laxmi Durga (Health & Nutrition) Background: Rapid growth of population and extensive globalization has resulted in India facing huge challenges in its bid to achieve Millennium Development Goals with respect to providing quality healthcare and adequate economic opportunities to the more than one billion habitants. Andhra Pradesh, the fourth largest state in area and the fifth largest in terms of population in the country has witnessed unprecedented development in the last decade largely due to the Information Technology sector resulting in a growing urban-rural divide. However, two thirds population of the state belongs to the rural areas and is considerably poor when compared to other southern states or the rest of India. In order to target the poor health status among the rural community, community driven healthcare interventions were initiated as part of the Indira Kranthi Patham (IKP) programme being implemented by Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP).The


Health and Nutrition (HN) interventions of SERP are modeled after the Comprehensive Rural Health Programme (CRHP) that has attained tremendous success in rural Maharashtra. Moving on the lines of CRHP, the HN unit makes use of trained community members in the form of Community Nutritionist (CN) and Community Resource Persons (CRP) to transmit messages about maternal, neonatal, infant care practices to the

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

villages. The Health and Nutrition interventions primarily focus on these major public health areas; maternal health, infant and child care, environmental health, community health system and communicable diseases. SERP has also integrated training of Health Sub Committees which consists of internal members of the community to provide critical monitoring and feedback on HN activities at village, mandal and district level. Need for Health and Nutrition interventions: There is a great need for improved access to nutritious food for women as well as young children in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It has been identified that the optimum way of curbing malnutrition is by targeting the pregnant and lactating women before the child is born. However, statistics reveal that around 39.4% women at reproductive age are below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended minimum BMI of 18.5 kg/m2. A majority of women at this age have been found anemic while 34% of children under three years of age have various deficiencies. The scenario has been found much worse with respect to the Scheduled tribe communities that are a prominent part of rural Andhra. It is in this regard that the Health


and Nutrition interventions had been initiated in the year 2004 on a pilot basis in 100 chosen mandals out of the total 1200 mandals in the state. HN Interventions and how they address the Malnutrition issues: The HN programmes of Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty use a holistic approach to break the cycle of malnutrition and poor growth. As shown in the picture, the cycle of malnutrition is a circular flow of instances that primarily contribute for poor health and growth standards. Community managed Nutrition cum Day Care centres (NDCCs) help in addressing these issues in a sustainable and cost effective manner.The objective is to improve both nutrition status and health-related behaviour among pregnant and lactating women as well as children less than three years of age. With specific focus on weight gain during pregnancy, body mass index, anemia and birth weight of children as nutrition indicators, these HN interventions aim at targeting the women and children from the tribal regions particularly as they are most isolated from public services. The HN interventions are a comprehensive package of community based programmes that include the NDCCs,

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

Infants  Low Birth Weight  Received less than 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding  More susceptible to infections

Women at Reproductive Age  Lack sufficient food and micronutrients during pregnancy  Anemic


Cycle of Malnutrition and Poor Growth

 Susceptible to stillbirths and

 Lack sufficient food and micronutrients  Anemic  Underweight and Stunted  More susceptible to infections


Adolescent Girls  Lack sufficient food and micronutrients  Anemic  More susceptible to infections

Health Savings and Health Risk Fund, Convergence of Fixed Nutrition and Health Day, Water and Sanitation, Sanjeevani Health Insurance managed by a Health Subcommittee and Community Resource persons. A Nutrition cum Day Care center is generally a generally a rented room in a villages where pregnant and lactating women and children under five years are provided with two well balanced meals each day. Managed by the community and funded by the Village Organisation, NDCCs also have attached kitchen gardens to facilitate the supply of organic vegetables. Other activities include


growth monitoring, convergence of public health services like immunization for pregnant women and children, and health education sessions provided by Community Nutritionist. Fixed Nutrition and Health days are two pre-selected days in the village which are dedicated to provide ante natal care and post natal care. ANT and PNT are provided by an Auxillary Nurse

Midwife and are managed by the Village level Health Sub Committee. Sanjeevani Health Insurance is managed by the Zilla Samakhyas and provides medical coverage to the rural families for around 199 ailments. The Water and Sanitation programmes aim for complete sanitation and declare the villages as “open defecation free”, provide piped water and drinking water access and finally reduce the incidence of communicable diseases. Community Management of the Programmes: Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty stands on a strong belief that a concentrated effort to enable the poor to build their own institutions can go a long way in helping them come out of poverty. Hence, the HN interventions build on the foundation of the statewide rural women’s self help group

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

movement and the implementation of the programmes is done by members from Zilla Samakhyas, Mandal Samakhyas and the Village organisations who are selected as Internal Community Resource Persons (CRPs), Community Nutritionists and Para-Nutritionists to from Health subcommittees, Subdistrict Health subcommittees and District Health subcommittees. CRPs are the best practitioners indentified from the SHGs in the villages. They are trained in all aspects of the interventions and are responsible to provide leadership and technical support to the SHGs. They are the driving force in the programme implementation as they themselves are a part of the community. Community Nutritionists are community health workers who are trained four days a month by the Health and Nutrition Community Coordinator (HNCC) and Master trainers at the mandal level. They are trained on giving health education sessions during the Fixed NH days and SHG meetings. Health Subcommittee members at all the three levels (village, mandal and district) are responsible to have vigilance of HN activities and staff and provide feedback about the programme implementation. Thus, the execution of the activities at all levels is in the hands of the community while SERP plays the role of a mentor


cum trainer. This helps in the HN staff to be accountable to the community thereby ensuring the beneficiaries are rightfully served. Key Impacts: The initiatives taken up by SERP have resulted in a large change in the health and nutrition levels of the rural poor. Occurrences of Anemia in women and children have been reduced by a great extent. Statistics reveal that the state has recorded a massive improvement of the Birth weight of children in comparison to the rest of rural India. Mean weight gain for pregnant women of 9.01 kgs and a mean birth weight of 2.912 kgs ably support the impact of the HN interventions. Apart from this, common activities have been identified at the VO level to enable the beneficiaries to generate income using the NDCC as the venue of activity. Activities such as spice packaging, leaf plates making, tailoring and tamarind deseeding provide opportunities for pregnant women to earn anywhere between `25 and `45 each day. These earnings help the beneficiaries repay the microfinance loans to the NDCC and act as additional income for the families.

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

Community Resource Persons (CRP) Strategy P Usha Rani (Institution Building) To facilitate better implementation of the development programmes and to portray some beneficiaries from the community as role models to other poor individuals and other institutions, the concept of Community Resource Persons (CRPs) has been brought into picture. Community Resource Persons are those members of the community who had come out of poverty by being part of the SHGs and practiced the cardinal principles of Self-Help. They have atleast 4 years of experience as members in their groups and must have accessed multiple doses of loans to improve their livelihood base and standard of living. Over the years, CRPs have evolved as functional specialists with each individual having his / her own strengths in specific areas like social mobilization, gender, financial management, book keeping, marketing, health, gender, paralegal assistants and so on. Based on the specialization of the person, there are various types of CRPs as given below, • VORT (Village Organization Resource Team) consisting of internal and external CRPs • Senior CRPs • TFI (Total Financial Inclusion) CRPs


• Registration CRPs • Community Auditing CRPs • Gender CRPs • Marketing CRPs • Marketing State CRPs • NPM (Non Pesticide Management) CRPs • Dairy CRPs • Health CRPs • Jobs Resource Persons With the ideology that “Community to Community” approach is the best way to enhance the capacities of the communities and best practices among Community Based Organisations (CBOs), SERP has adopted the Village Organisation Resource Team (VORT) CRP strategy since 2004-05 to strengthen SHGs. This involves a four member CRP team visiting each village for 15 days during which new groups are formed from the remaining PoP villagers, training of already formed SHGs, updating of SHG books of accounts and identification cum training of bookkeepers and community activists is done. The CRP teams are also responsible to facilitate leadership rotation in the groups and group meetings during the nights, and develop group manag-

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

ement and financial management norms in the SHGs. Senior CRPs are experienced members with a thorough knowledge about the successful running of Mandal Samakhyas. Only those who have served in the post of Office bearers for a minimum of 2 years are selected as Senior CRPs. It is mandatory that these persons are equipped with good clarity and articulation skills about the group concept, role of VO / MS and best practices in IB, MF and CIF. Each Senior CRP team consists of two such members and is responsible for injecting the best practices of SHG, VO and MS through intensive facilitation and experience sharing for strengthening of the MS meeting process. Other activities include evolving suitable norms for MS operational and financial management with a view to achieve self-reliance and Bringing clarity and hands on experience about the working of MS as a sensitive support organization for protecting the interests of lower level organizations. Registration CRPs are primarily responsible for creating awareness among all SHG members on their rights and entitlements, their


VO & MS Bye-laws and the registration process. They ensure the collection of membership fee, share capital from all members/ member institutions and maintaining related registers accurately atVO and MS level.These CRPs make sure that all VOs and MSs get registered under APMACs Act-1995 and get the registration certificates and registration numbers. Registration CRPs work for 15 days in a month. Each team consisting of two members will be allotted to two Area Coordinators clusters. The CRP team will conduct two rounds of a 3 day orientation programme to all MS EC members in their allotted clusters.

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

Apart from these trainings, the Senior CRPs assist the Mandal Samakhyas in conducting General body meetings and fulfilling all legal compliances. Auditing CRPs support and create awareness among CBOs in maintenance of books of accounts, financial management practices and self-regulation of CBOs the Auditing / External Community Resource Persons Strategy for Financial Management and auditing. After an initial screening by the Zilla Samakhya and DPMU Finance unit, the selection of Auditing CRPs is done by the SPMU IB Finance unit. After the selection, trainings (both class as well field experience) are given by experienced project staff, project auditors, selected statutory auditors, NGOs like COE and APMAS etc. Each team consisting of 2-3 members is allotted to an area coordinator cluster to work for a total of 16 days. The responsibilities of these teams include maintenance of books of accounts in VOs and MSs and conducting quarterly internal auditing in VOs and monthly audits for the Mandal Samakhyas. Other activities deal with ensuring effective management of funds and creating awareness about books of accounts among the group members. To upscale the process of establishment of Social Action Committees and community


managed family counseling centres to deal violence against women, Gender CRP strategy has been designed. Experienced women who have been working in MSACs as paralegals in resource districts with specific criteria are selected as Gender CRPs. It is beneficial if these personnel have had past experience in dealing with domestic / external violence. It is for this reason that young and unmarried women are not eligible and a minimum age of 25 years is mandatory. Gender CRPs will establish Gender Point persons in every SHG, VO and MS to monitor social agenda on regular basis. They are also responsible for establishing gender forums of village organisations in the villages. Trainings on social agenda are also given to the SHG members. Marketing CRPs are selected from among the members of the SHGs who work in the VOs on the marketing component of the project in a minimum of 4 mandals. Selection of marketing CRPs is done by the SPMU unit including SPA Marketing, present marketing CRPs and ZS Members after a rigorous five day training programme on all requisite skills. Orientation of newly selected CRPs includes a two day exercise on various components of marketing like Seasons, Crop area, Production, Prices, Conducting surveys, Preparation of reports, Monthly calendars, CIF

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

proposals, Quality control, Identification of the commodities, extraction methods, Value addition, Storage, Book Keeping, Sales, Role of VOs, MS, ZS, SRPs, Sub Committees and Integration with other line departments and other components of the project viz., NPM, Food Security, TFI, Dairy etc. They are also taken to exposure visits to the markets, warehouses, processing units, supermarkets, other neighboring mandals, neighboring districts and yearly once out of the state. Marketing CRPs assist the VOs in conducting potential survey and identification of the commodities, preparation of monthly calendars, preparation of CIF proposals and conducting training to the procurement committee members, book keepers and orientation to the farmers within their area of operation. The CRPs also work in coordination with the Marketing State Resource persons (SRPs) who are selected through the same process and are imposed with similar responsibilities albeit at the state level. Farmers who have practiced the Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture model and demonstrated its profitability and practicality are taken in as NPM CRPs. Selection is generally done by a panel consisting of SPMU-NPM member, Zilla Samakhya NPM Subcommittee members, DPM-NPM and


External CRP from neighboring district. These members are identified based on their specialization like SRI, Poly crops, 36X36 models, audit and accounts etc. The primary responsibilities of the CRPs include motivating the farmers to adopt Sustainable Agriculture methods in their fields, establishing 36X36 models; crop models, Nader compost pits, and cattle shed lining, bund plantation, SRI in Paddy, deep furrows, registration fee collection and act as a guide to all functionaries. The CRP (Jobs) also referred to as Jobs Resource Persons (JRP) play an important role in the processes of mobilizing, convincing and motivating the rural youth to enroll in trainings and take up jobs in organized sectors. Each JRP, who has passed atleast Intermediate, is allotted to three mandals and is responsible for, • Mobilizing the registered un-employed youth to participate in various trainings through Mandal Samakhyas and Village Organisations. • Orienting VOs and MSs on job component by explaining how jobs improve lives of families and how it can come in support of the various other programs under IKP. • Making jobs an agenda item in VO and MS meetings.

E-Sandesham: November, 2010

• They will carry a calendar of trainings and according to the training ahead in near future and mobilize youth for those trainings based on qualification and interest of un-employed youth. • Registering and maintaining un-employed youth database and computerizing it. • Facilitating VOs to fill the jobs register and track placements. • Facilitating MS to monitor infrastructure. • Monitor drop outs in trainings and remobilize them • Counseling parents of youth and ensuring


that they send their children for jobs in urban and semi urban areas. • Arrange alumni interaction with VO/ MS/ZS meetings in order to motivate unemployed youth to take up placement. CRPs are primarily responsible for providing capacity building support to the newer groups by sharing their experiences and training the poor women in Andhra Pradesh as well as the rest of India. More than 20,000 qualified individuals are presently working as CRPs and Para professionals in the state who guide, assist and implement the social initiatives taken up.

E-Sandesham, Novermber 2010  
E-Sandesham, Novermber 2010  

Official Newsletter of SERP