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Village Action News

Monthly news about the efforts of AVAG to bridge the gap between
Auroville and the villages around it.


January 2003

No. 3

 

Microproject Fund

Empowering people to take village development in their own hands

The Microproject Fund is a model developed by AVAG that concentrates on providing the villagers with the basic infrastructure to organise and take responsibility for their own village services. Most villages do not have proper roads, drainage, electricity and drinking-water facilities, and many of the school-buildings and public places are badly dilapidated and need urgent attention.

The Village Council first decides on a project they believe is the most urgent. The villagers then plan and make an estimate. They try to secure funds for the project from the established government sources, as AVAG keeps the Councils well aware of all the government schemes accessible to the villages. If government funding is not forthcoming, the Council calls upon all the villagers to try and raise the funds themselves.

If the amount is too large to raise within the village, the Council can apply to AVAG's Microproject Fund. To be eligible for AVAG's support, the villagers themselves must provide one third of the cost, in cash, in kind or labour. AVAG also ensures that the Council has a proper plan to maintain the asset.

AVAG helps them build the skills and the leadership qualities they need to undertake projects, as well as facilitating them to look in-depth at issues and schemes affecting them.

The end result is that when a village has worked together to implement a project, they end up with not only an improved facility for the village, but a sense of "can do" about themselves, and the readiness to take up more and more community work together.


Women's club repairing the road

 
Men's club installing a hand pump

 

Villagers work towards a clean & accessible Health Centre

In the month of December 2002, ten women's clubs and two men's clubs of Vanur village cleaned up the area around the Health Centre. About 200 people worked together for two days and cleared up an area of three acres. They also cleaned the centre thoroughly and got rid of all its unhygienic waste.

The condition of the Health Centre of Vanur village was miserable just a month back. The place was surrounded by thick, thorny bushes. The unhealthy waste of the centre was lying all over, inside and outside the complex. The doctor, nurse and the staff members were often negligent towards the patients. The villagers were reluctant to go there to be treated even if they required urgent medical attention.

Today all this has changed because some members of AVAG's women's clubs had the vision of a better health service for their village. They approached the doctor and told him about AVAG's Microproject Fund and the possibility of an improved health centre. The doctor was overjoyed as he too was disgusted with the place and was thinking of resigning from the job. The matter was then brought to the club meeting and got the approval of AVAG's development worker. The news of this Herculean microproject spread and finally all the twelve clubs of the village decided to participate. All the club members contributed Rs. 40 each to help the project and they bore 2/3 of the total cost.


Women doing men's work

 
Sarees make the job tougher


The Panchayat leaders on the site expressing their appreciation

  This microproject was the biggest ever in the history of AVAG. It was proof of AVAG's success in spreading the message of self-empowerment. It demonstrated the willingness of the people to breakthrough the caste system and gender discrimination and come together for common good. It inspired other villages as well as AVAG to take up similar projects.

Some Microprojects in the pipeline

1) The Panchayat school of Pulichapallam village is situated in the lowest part of the village. As a result the school gets flooded in the rainy season. The water remains stagnant for months as there is no proper drainage system. With mud and water all around children face a lot of health and hygiene problems. The men's club has planned to build a wall all around the school and raise the ground-level by dumping soil inside and outside the wall. The club has also agreed to offer free labour.

Estimated cost for the wall and soil Rs 24,850
Villagers' contribution Rs 10,000
Required sum Rs 14,850 ($310)

2) Vasanthapuram is situated on the border of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry therefore it has been neglected by both the states. For a long time there has been a shortage of drinking water though the villagers have been requesting the municipalities of both the states to do something about it. They have also written applications to the Collectors and MLAs of the region but their appeal has always been rejected with the excuse that the Government Treasury is running short of funds. Now villagers have taken the matter into their own hands and have decided to install a hand pump that will fulfil their drinking water need.

Estimated cost of the hand pump Rs 30,000
Villagers' contribution Rs 10,000
Required sum Rs 20,000 ($419)

3) Poothurai, the biggest Dalit -('untouchable') village of this region has seven women's clubs and two men's clubs. All the nine clubs are very active. But they do not have a proper meeting place. All the meetings are conducted on an open ground. As a result bad-weather and passing drunkards often disturb their meetings. The clubs have come together to make a structure with a simple shed. This place will also be used for the purpose of night school and village-library.

Estimated cost of the structure Rs 18,000
Villagers' contribution Rs 6,000
Required sum Rs 12,000 ($ 251)

Contact: avagofficeauroville.org.in

http://www.auroville.org/index/avag.htm

 

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