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Preliminary Needs Assessment based on Bhavana's information

Author: Rich Carlson

Last Activity: July 13, 2007

Preliminary Needs Assessment.

Recognizing the fact that Subra has done a great job in putting together a preliminary document which we can perfect as a proposal, and that it is out there for critique, I did a brief assessment on how well it address the problems which have been identified. At this point we prbably should be thinking about how to taylor the plan Subra has written up with the actual needs we are trying to address. The following is a first attempt at closing some gaps which exisits between the plan and the needs.

If we take this document from Bhavana (below) as a start for our needs assessment and compare it against the current executive summary as to how well the plan addresses the needs the following items become obvious:

1) Youth 15-24: There is very little substance in the executive summary which addresses the actual needs of this group. There are no specifics regards how vocational training is going to be delivered or specific training offered, how candidates for training will be assessed, trained and supervised. There is no mention of career or personal counselling to be offered. There is also no discussion on how these people will be enticed to stay in their local rather than move to the city. No public/private partnerships addressed to help create jobs,

2) Women: No discussion of self-help groups, or how our program will raise the status of women. How the problem of alcoholism will be dealt with or program offered

3) Disadvantaged communities: Nothing specifically speaks to how our program will address the specific areas of repression these communities suffer from, nor how our program will alleviate them

4) While our program mentions integral education, there is nothing substantive about how the program will contribute to teacher training and upgrading education standards in the village. emphasis on teaching philosophy, spirituality and a variety of subjects that seem to have no relevance for village education programs. The portions regards bringing together the best minds to solve civilizational problems almost infantilizes the problems of rural communities!!! Although the above programs on integral education are proper to the University of Human Unity, they are most inappropriate for rural development program we are proposing!

5) Elderly Community: Nothing addresses targeting this community.

6) Executive Summary: What the executive summary does a masterful job in addressing is delivering information to villages. However, there are no corrolations made between the delivery of information and achieving any of the goals in Bhavanas needs statement. In fact on the face of it the plan is exclusively: Technocentric! There are no intensive discussions of how human resources will be utilized to address these problems, and the problems we are addressing are essentially human problems.

Although technology may facilitate achieving the goals of the program, the actual program attempts to among other things lift people our of poverty, educate and train them them, improve their social status and quality of life, enable these folks to positively contribute to the social and economic welfare of their own community, Tamil Nadu and the Nation.



Bhavana's Needs Survey



Identification of perceived needs and constraints in the target country, in particular in the region(s) concerned
Despite India enjoying an economic boom, the increasing gap in income distribution has created a marked divide between the urban well-off and the rural poor . Dalits and other lower castes especially remain marginalised due to lack of education and livelihood skills, as highlighted by recent Dalit demonstrations in both India and the UK, as well as by a recent TV programme The Indian Miracle? on UKs Channel 4, 30th April 2007 . This is particularly true of the target area where caste and class divisions have additionally been exacerbated by the disruptions caused by the 2004 Tsunami disaster and its follow-up, when aid was at times indiscriminately distributed, resulting in a more pronounced awareness of inequities between castes as well as between coastal and inland communities, resulting in increased communal and cross-caste conflict. The Tsunami also highlighted the bypassing of Dalit and low caste rural youth in regards to their livelihood and participation in the current boom - which is evident in nearby Puducherry (Pondicherry) - with the consequent disaffection of a potentially productive social group which increasingly finds expression in behaviour. To mitigate against this, the urgent need identified by local SHGs is: to improve access to livelihood skills, employment and enterprise for youth; to raise the social and economic status of women; and to strengthen the capacity of their communities to access basic rights currently out of reach of their caste and class. Needs identified by the beneficiaries are corroborated by national statistics, which show that only 5% of Indian workers are skilled (in developed countries this figure is 80%) and that only 20% of Indias youth enter higher education and these are predominantly from wealthier urban families.
Micro-credit for enterprise development is only available via established SHGs and is limited by their capacity, while loans for vocational training is not available from banks unless for a degree or certificate course, which are usually out of reach of the poorest because they have insufficient education. To exacerbate the situation, government schools in many rural areas are being run down due to a steady drop in enrolment, as better off families choose to send their children to private schools where they can expect higher quality education, and this diminishes the quality of education offered to the children of poorer parents (usually Dalits or lower castes) without the financial capacity to exercise choice. To reverse this trend, schools, teachers, headmasters, and regional and state educational officers recognise the need to support new initiatives to upgrade their educational programmes.
In relation to post-Tsunami LRRD, the UKs Disaster Emergency Committee (Evaluation Report to DEC Board December 2005, p7) acknowledged a striking lack of expertise in post-Tsunami housing amongst its members. Sadly, the excellent technical expertise in appropriate building techniques, and also in coastal protective replanting, available locally in Auroville, was initially largely overlooked by DEC members in favour of expertise from the North. Local expertise is now belatedly being recognised and Auroville units such as the Earth Institute is now training staff from other NGOs such as Red R and UN-Habitat, in cost-effective, low impact, building techniques, while the Pitchandikulam Bio-resource Centre (PBRC) advises other NGOs and the Tamil Nadu State Government on coastal protection planting and environmental education. This demonstrates a pressing need for a web-based means of dissemination that can increase the accessibility of local in-country expertise to local, national and international NGOs, community groups and government, especially in the event of natural disaster.
1.1.1 Description of the target group(s) (social category and economic situation, age group, gender etc.) and final beneficiaries and estimated number.
Target groups are (f and m) youth aged 16-25 and women aged 25-45 from the target area. Within these target groups are young men and women of school going age who have completed 8th and sometimes 10th standard in school, of whom there are an estimated 20,000, and married women in the 25-45 age group, of whom there are an estimated 60,000. The project will especially target the unemployed youth who are at risk of alcoholism, gang activity, and migration to cities, who number about 20%-30% of the age group and are primarily from the poorest and most marginalised families (mainly Dalits). Women who are adversely impacted by these youth will also be a priority target group. Other target groups will be the elderly, widowed and disabled with limited means of support, and children aged 6-15 (f and m) through government schools and Eco-clubs (27,500), and the villages they serve, and existing and trainee teachers (6,100). Primary stakeholders will be the 680 SHGs and the VA co-ordinated training units and government schools (324).
Villages (including 130 Dalit colonies) = 317; households = 60,000 (2/3rd below poverty line). Estimated direct beneficiaries = 70,000 and indirect beneficiaries = 600,000, which is the approximate population of all villages in Vanur and Marakanam Blocks. (Note: our project partners classify all Dalit colonies and fishing communities of caste villages as social entities in their own right hence the number of villages given does not tally with government revenue village designations which, for example, views Dalit colonies as appendages of caste villages. An common impact of including Dalit or fishing colonies as part of their respective caste villages has been that government funds intended for improvements in village infrastructure often only benefit the caste part of the revenue village.)
1.1.2 Reasons for the selection of the target group(s) and identification of their needs and constraints. How does the Action contribute to the needs of the target group(s) and final beneficiaries?
The target groups were all identified and selected by village self-help groups (SHGs) during participatory exercises to define each communitys priority needs and their constraints. For example, in seminars for womens groups in fishermens villages on post-Tsunami economic conditions, health, education, etc., conducted by local NGOs in August 2005, it was found that most local youth are not accessing higher studies because of lack of awareness of the alternatives, lack of nearby educational institutions, and primarily due to lack of financial capacity. For young women there were safety concerns amongst parents about sending daughters by bus every day to study in the far off towns of Cuddalore or Tindivanam. In surveys conducted by Village Action in 4 traditionally agricultural villages, among 267 male students and 157 female students, to ascertain livelihood training preferences 50% chose vocational training in business skills or trades, 25% chose handicrafts, 25% chose the service sector (teachers, nurses, or drivers), and only one person chose an agricultural occupation. In a PRA survey amongst female and male youth in 5 other local villages it was found that: an average of 20 30 young males (age 16-25) per village were unemployed; there were more unemployed female youth; there were no training opportunities for this age group in the villages or within reasonable reach and no local sources of information about government programmes or schemes.
Selected target groups and reason for selection:
Youth 16-25: Youth are the future income-generators of their families and communities, but youth from rural areas, especially those from the poorest communities, are effectively prevented from sharing in Indias current economic boom, because they cannot access vocational training opportunities, either through lack of financial capacity or distance from training facilities. Both factors considerably disadvantage young women even further, as they will not be given preference over male siblings or permitted to travel far from their homes. Migration to urban areas is the main alternative, but urban migration also depletes rural communities of their capacity to develop local alternative livelihood options, whilst exacerbating urban problems with slum housing and unemployed migrant labour, as the better jobs are increasingly only available for youth who have graduated from college, or who have a government certified vocational skill. Additionally, young males (especially in the fishing communities affected by the Tsunami) are increasingly venting their frustration by engaging in degenerate behaviour such as drunkenness and gang violence, whilst young women are often open to abuse because they cannot contribute to family income or are exposed to the drunken violence of young men.
Women (25-45) and womens self-help groups: In self help groups (SHGs) meetings most women complain that their men-folk, although being the traditional breadwinners, spend 60% of their income on alcohol, smoking, and other personal habits, and only 30-40% goes to the family. Wife beating and alcoholism are closely related issues that women in these villages also frequently raise through their (SHGs). Many in the 25-45 age group are also deserted or widowed mothers, with little opportunity to earn enough to care for their children, but eager to improve their capacity to generate family income through learning new livelihood skills. This target group has in a sense been self-selected as womens SHGs are often the drivers of change in their villages. Experience demonstrates that in villages where livelihood skills training has been available alongside SHG micro-credit opportunities, women, with team support from other womens SHG members, have found strength to approach village leaders and request their interventions. Through Village Action (VA) and other NGOs, womens groups have gained access to legal guidelines and introductions to lawyers, so they can then approach legal counsel themselves when problems at home continue to be unresolved.
Disadvantaged families and communities (Dalits and low castes): This group is selected because it comprises the majority of the rural population that will be targeted in the area, and has traditionally not had a voice in village governance nor access to higher education. Among the target areas SHGs, 50% of the women are from the Dalit castes and are therefore the poorest of the poor, mostly illiterate and traditionally work as day labourers.
Elderly and disabled: Womens SHGs will target this often neglected group, as they comprise either disabled children of their members or are identified by SHG members as having no means of support. They need help to get government help and pensions, and/or small loans to start simple enterprises. The disabled need help to get a Government ID card and/or referral to day or residential care.
Schools and Teachers: are confronted with the loss of jobs and closure of government schools due to a steady drop in enrolment in many rural areas, as many better off families choose to send their children to private schools where they can expect higher quality education. This is precipitating a trend towards reduced funding for, and eventual closure of, some rural government schools, and exacerbates the decline in local educational quality offered to the children of poor parents without the financial capacity to exercise choice. Government schools, teachers, and regional educational officers therefore recognise the urgent need to support new initiatives to upgrade their educational and teacher training programmes.

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commented by on Jul 13, 2007

ASRN Both are of excellent value, down-to-earth, real and true..will be good to see how these are honed further to create a perfect or near-perfect presentation of the facts and a detailed plan more
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replied by Rich Carlson on Jul 13, 2007 (in reply to's comment)

Regards the emails versus the posting to the web site. I personally think that they are the most direct method of communication when we need feedback and direct emails among the core group are the more