From the Ground Up: Appreciating the rich potential of people centred development

Arpendu Ganguly | October 26th, 2015, 5:07 pm

Amid the democratization of today’s internet connected world, driven by our homo economicus rationales,  where we are busy tracking the ‘economic growth’ related events for instance the Greece Crisis or the Chinese Financial Meltdown, there are an entirely different contemporary development-empowerment processes being facilitated by development agencies in association with the civil society organizations and practised by marginalized communities who have been bypassed by the eventual outcomes of this ‘economic growth’.

Christian Aid, a UK-based donor organization, has been pioneering the work of participatory based development interventions in India and  21 other developing countries under its flagship Program Partners Agreement (PPA). The recent PPA India Meet which was organized by one of its local PPA partner Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC) in Purulia, West Bengal brought out how well people centred development can simulate positive changes and why this approach should be appreciated at a much larger scale. Re-emerging World captured and documented the proceedings of this event.

The opportunity of closely interacting with the communities and experiencing the ‘real change’ in their lives was facilitated by DRCSC in its four program village locations: Ledobona, Pidrahvangadi, Natundih, Beraldih, located in Purulia district, West Bengal, India. These intervention approaches and models are on ground evidences of the people centred development practices.

Leveraging the Climate Resilient Organic Agriculture Techniques ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods

Climate change and its variability are emerging as major challenges influencing the performance of Indian Agriculture in general and impacting the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers in particular. As a response to this shifting weather patterns, small and marginal farmers of Ledabona have adopted various sustainable climate resilient agriculture practices which has not only ensured adequate food security to their households but also helped them in generating cash income from the surplus farm produce. Few interesting models practised by the community include the Integrated Farming System (IFS), Nutrition Garden and Happa Irrigation models.

Farmers explaining their climate resilient agricultural practices

Farmers explaining their climate resilient agricultural practices

Empowering Women with Skills, Knowledge and Resources

As per the World Banks’ Gender Equality and Development Report 2012, equalizing the resource access to women and men can increase the agricultural productivity by 2.5 to 4 percent in developing countries. Testimony to these numbers on a subjective and micro basis, is the profound change experienced by a women self-help group in Ledabona Village. Popularly known as the Sagen Sakomal Mahila Dal, this group of 12 women members are not only leading climate resilient agricultural practices in their farming households but also have started a puffed rice business of their own.

SHG members preparing puffed rice: a key livelihood source

SHG members preparing puffed rice: a key livelihood source

Led by the ‘community’ for the ‘community’

Intervention models in whichever sector and issue concerned, works better when the community are themselves involved as catalyst of change and not as beneficiaries of change. This approach for greater impact is substantiated by the various community driven models implemented in Pidrahvangadi village. Models like social forestry, sericulture, and community led IFS which leverages the principles of community participation and decision making have generated sustainable livelihood for all members involved.

Community members preparing neem oil using traditional methods

Community members preparing neem oil using traditional methods

In bringing these insights from field to light, I hope to bring your attention to the accomplishment of these communities who have seized a chance to better their living conditions and expand the appreciation of bottom up approaches to “Base of the Pyramid” development which encourages active engagement of communities as key participants and not just as target beneficiaries.

A people centred approach is the need of hour

A people centred approach is the need of hour