SUCCESS STORIES ABOUND IN REMOTE NONGLANG
By Sanjay Sharma.
Shillong: Mency Dora, part of a self help group in Nonglang village under Mairang Block in West Khasi Hills District, and her husband, worked all day in a neighbour’s field to support their family. Despite putting in back breaking work 14 hours a day, they barely managed two square meals. Inability to repay a debt prompted the village usurer to foreclose on land they had mortgaged to him.
“We begged our relatives for loans to send our children to school, we worked harder and put in extra labour because we didn’t want our children to work as sharecroppers,’ she reminisces, “Half of our earnings were spent repaying creditors.” To make matters worse, health problems continued to dog their children.
That was before the North Eastern Region community Resource Management Project (NERCRMP), jointly funded by the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of India came to their village.
Through the concept of mirco credit and access to loan at a minimal rate, she availed a loan of Rs. 5,000/- with which she opened a small grocery-cum-teashop, which caters to the entire village. Her children have resumed studies and now help with the shop accounts. She has taken an additional loan to construct her kitchen. Next year, she plans to expand her shop and venture into poultry farming.
Mency Dora and her family are representative of the overall well being in Nonglang and its peripheries. They are financially secure and no longer go hungry.
Laugh lines and a general look of contentment have replaced the furrows of worry in their brow. She attributes the change in her life to the intervention of the NERCRMP-IFAD Project and its subsequent introduction of Natural Resource Management Groups (NaRMG) and Self Help Groups (SHGs)
This is just one of the success stories that abound in Nonglang.
And it is to assess the impact of the NERCRMP-IFAD project that Meghalaya Chief Secretary P. J. Bazely visited Nonglang, accompanied by an entourage of top state bureaucrats on Tuesday. By all accounts he came back pleased and impressed. Mr. Bazeley issued instructions to district level authorities in relevant departments to provide technical assistance and extend cooperation to the Project.
He was conducted around the various schemes under the Project by assistant project coordinator Bijoy A Sangma and senior officials of the Programme support team from Shillong and the Nongstoin based Development Support Team.
The high powered delegation later interacted with villagers and beneficiaries who expressed their views freely.
Nonglang, Nongkrem, Nongkakrai and Maweithkli villages under Mairang cluster were selected by the NERCRMP-IFAD for development interventions in 1999.
The NRECRMP footprints in the West Khasi Hills extends across 111 villages and it has made strident advances in community uplift and empowerment. It has since facilitated the setting up of 257 SHGs in West Khasi Hills alone.
In Nonglang two women’s SHGs were formed on the basis of affinity. Christened Tyllilang and Prascovie of SHGs were formed to encourage decisions and activities based on common interests. Both are a year old and are currently engaged in savings and lending among themselves for non-farm activities .
A significant achievement is that the Project has facilitated the NaRMGs to come up with a Perspective plan for the next 30 years based on their own needs. Based on the Prospective Plan the NaRGMs are now preparing their own Annual Action Plans.
The Project has a refreshingly new approach to the entire gamut of development and community uplift. It revolves around beneficiaries at the grassroots level by assigning them as the key stakeholders. In pursuance of its primary objective, the Project has concentrated on building Peoples Institutions - NaRM and SHGs in villages oriented towards development through participation.
Its runaway success is evident. The NaRM plans have, since inception, been formulated by the community itself. These plans reflect more, the needs and aspirations of the community, rather than what the Project Management considers necessary. The role of government line departments, project staff, and the NGO partner - the KJP Synod-SELDA, has been limited to fine-tuning these plans.
SELDA and other NGO partners in the project is responsible for felicitating the process of participatory development in these villages with assistance from line-departments and other agencies under the supervision and guidance of the Khawkylla Community Resource Management Society-the IFAD-NERCRMP, Development Support Team (DST).
Members of the delegation, which included Principal Secretaries, C&RD, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Agriculture, Forest and Environment, Soil Conservation, Commissioner & Secretaries, Social Welfare, Planning, Agriculture and Directors of C&RD, Agriculture, Horticulture and Social Welfare, later said they wanted to assess the effect the NERCRMP Participatory Development Approach with active participation of key stake-holders for themselves.
According to some members of the delegation, the positive change in the attitude and socio-economic condition of the people was clearly visible from the community’s ability to plan its own development needs, and implement and monitor the activities themselves through formation of NaRMGs and SHGs.
Following a rousing reception to the visiting bureaucrats, the leader of the Ung Ialang Tre Lum NaRMG presented a progress report to the delegation. It highlighted the various activities taken up in Nonglang in the last four years - broom stick cultivation, school building construction, kitchen garden, low cost sanitary garden, compost pit, piggery, poultry and other livestock breeding. Through kitchen gardens, the village is now self-sufficient in vegetables, earlier bought from the market. Two of the most significant achievements are the ‘Community Fishery’ and the ‘Participatory 3 D Model’.
The NaRMG has opened a joined bank account with a woman co-signatory in line with its philosophy of involving all members of the community with women participating in the decision-making. Health programmes like polio vaccination and other medical interventions have also been organised by the NaRM Groups with the help of line departments.
As part of the overall endeavour, village communities have been taught how to maintain minute books, cashbooks, account ledgers, pass books and other important journals. Every member of the community has direct access to such documents and the minutes of each meeting are read out to the general NaRM assembly at the next NaRM meet.
COURTESY: The Shillong Times dt. May 7, 2004