A Mission with a Vision

Pragati Abhiyan, India

Shreya Mehta

Shreya Mehta on June 14, 2018 in Education

Once again, the state of Maharashtra is in news with the plight of the farmers. Since 2013, the area hasn’t received much rainfall and severe drought has engulfed the state. The farmers have had to face a tough time making a living. The number of suicides committed by desperate farmers has also increased in the area at an alarming rate. Sangli, Nashik, Pune, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Satara and Beed are some of the areas that have been affected the most.

Known for its mythological, cultural, social and historical importance, Nashik was called the ‘Land of the Brave’ during the regime of Shivaji. The Sahyadri range is a very predominant aspect of the landscape of the district. Nashik district consists of 15 blocks out of which 7 of them consists of tribal population.

46% percent of people are below poverty line according to the statistics provided by the government. Their livelihoods are dependent on their produce from their plots. Due to the poor fertility of soil and various environmental considerations, carrying out irrigation is almost close to impossible. Farming here is almost always rainfed. During off season, the villagers are forced to migrate to other neighbouring areas to work and find other alternatives to earn money.

With very scanty rains in the area, the lives of these farmers become miserable and with very few job opportunities across other villages, augmenting income appears almost close to impossible.

Fortunately, we have an innovative and revolutionary Act called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) that enables and guarantees work to the rural population of India. Unfortunately, most people in the rural areas are unaware about the act or don’t know ‘how’ and ‘whom’ to approach for the same. To facilitate and empower the people with information about better livelihood and opportunities, the Pragati Abhiyan came into existence.

The Pragati Abhiyan is a civil society organisation that is engaged in Nashik to empower the people by providing information regarding various schemes and laws like the MGNREGA. They also engage in ensuring effective implementation of such schemes. By being part of various government organisations and meetings with specialists and local people, the organisation works to enhance agricultural productivity in drought prone areas.

Pragati Abhiyan started to work in 15 villages of the 3 blocks of Nashik namely Igatpuri, Triambakeshwar and Peth and has grown to the neighbouring villages since. Pragati Abhiyan began with five goals and since then is working towards implementing the same. Their focus is primarily to “educate the villagers of their right to work”, “right to food”, “taking measures to combat drought”, to “spread awareness” and to “facilitate capacity building”.

Based on the insights received from various case studies of MGNREGA implementation by the state of Andhra Pradesh, Pragati Abhiyan has shared a lot of information and insights to various government bodies. The aim for the said action was to facilitate the better execution of the Act and to generate more jobs for the unemployed. There has been a rise in number of employment opportunities since then. The organisation has also trained and continues to train literate youth of the area who help to facilitate the competent application of the Act.

The introduction of ‘Gharpoch’ or Home delivery of Ration as a facility has also been a boon to many. In it three months ration is sent to the family in advance so that timely distribution and usage of food is encouraged. Pragati Abhiyan has taken the onus upon itself to popularize the scheme across it’s villages (Triambakeshwar, Peth and Igatpuri and surrounding areas). In this way, right to food is also taken care of. If the people face certain issues regarding the same, Pragati Abhiyan intervenes and appeals on the citizen’s behalf to the government to correct the problem and provide the best possible solution.

One often sees jeeps carrying banners, making announcements about various government projects and acts that could provide employment for the citizens of the place without migrating to other surrounding areas. Based on the discussions, workshops and seminars with farmer and various governmental organizations, it was felt that by adopting to cultivate high value horticulture with the help of suitable facilities, more money could be generated. High value produces like pomegranate which require less water have been encouraged since then and awareness about their grown and cultivation is provided to all the farmers in the region. Satana, Sangamer and Mohol have been able to generate the best produce.

Pragati Abhiyan with the support from the organizations like Maharashtra Knowledge Foundation and Nirman, has conducted many workshops to train volunteers to engage the farmers in a discussion regarding building watershed structures, which was proposed as the best solution to the areas of Maharashtra. The Director Ashwini Kulkarni says, “MGNREGA is discussed as the most promising program of the Government to mitigate drought, it provides wages to buy food grains which is the short-term solution while it can create watershed structures which can address water situation which is a more long-term solution”.

Trainings are also carried out for Sarpanches and for Gram Rojgar Sevaks to work as mediators and people’s representatives to the government. Various workshops and seminars are also conducted with the aim to empower the youth and inform them about the Employment Guarantee Scheme. Pragati Abhiyan has been and continues to be a member of various committees of the government to facilitate information and voice the concerns of the people. Various Review Meetings and Social Audit Committees are conducted to discuss and help implement the stages of planning, procedure and process of farming and watershed development.

A helpline and various radio programs in Marathi are available to provide information to people about all the above goals. Since its inception in 2005, Pragati Abhiyan has come a long way and “implementation” is the key word that is works to facilitate.

Today the organisation reaches thousands of villagers in Maharashtra with the goal to educate and inform the poor, to develop and inculcate watershed and better agricultural practices to maximum profits. Many meaningful assets like ponds and irrigation tanks have been built under MGNREGA and many vital contributions in terms of technology, connectivity and infrastructure too have been made in the areas.

With the goal to provide the people with their right to basic facilities like food, water, shelter and better entitlements, the Pragati Abhiyan is a promise for a better future, a hope for a better tomorrow for generations to come.

To read more about the inspirational work they are doing, visit Pragati Abhiyan today!

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