On December 2018, Assam held its Panchayat elections after almost a complete year of dissolution of the previous Panchayat and its term. In the month of February 2019, across all Panchayats in Assam, the newly elected body officially took charge. The Village organisation leadership in all project Panchayats held formal welcoming function to welcome the new Panchayat leadership. Additionally, one day orientation program was also organised for all the members for which a pre-designed module covering areas like introduction to Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission (ASRLM) and its activities, information on the PRI-CBO Convergence project and the concept of Dream Panchayat were discussed. The sessions were conducted by Mentors of Kudumbashree NRO, Internal Mentors (I-Mentors), Local Resource Groups (LRGs) and Jeevika Sakhis of the ASRLM. The orientations served as a good platform for the Panchayats to know about the development activities that took place in the past year and half under the Project and the role Village Organisation Coordination Committees (VOCC) played in it. The PRI body also got to know their roles and responsibilities towards their Panchayats and in the Project.
PRI Orientations being conducted
PRI Orientations in Dhekiajuli Block
The orientation started with an introduction to the activities undertaken by ASRLM in their respective Panchayats. This session also gave the participants an idea on Self Help Groups (SHGs) and its federations. Jeevika sakhis and Block coordinators facilitated this session. It was followed by an exercise where each ward members were told to share their idea of ‘Dream Panchayat’. Facilitators asked the ward members to share their plan for the coming 5 years. The facilitator also tried to connect ‘Dream Panchayat exercise with ‘Model Panchayat’ exercise. This exercise deepened conversations, from taking discussions beyond better implementation of schemes on how people should aim to achieve an ideal Panchayat. As part of this, in some Panchayats the idea of “Plastic Free Panchayats” was introduced to the members along with other criteria for being eligible.
PRI orientations in Barhampur Block
PRI orientations in Barhampur Block
Role of LRGs and VOCC members and how they have worked together in achieving certain targets and improving the service delivery in the Panchayat was taken up. Additionally, details on departmental convergence and achievements under the PRI-CBO Convergence project were shared with the newly elected body. After sharing the activities and achievements that VOCC and LRGs through the Project have been able attain in the Panchayat, the PRI members were encouraged to think on how VOCC, LRGs and CBO network can help them in achieving their dream for their Panchayat. In most Panchayats where the Panchayat secretary, Gram Rozgar Sevak (GRS) or accountant were present, they shared their experience of working with the LRGs during the orientation. They mentioned how VOCC on behalf of the CBO has been continuously involved and how in the absence of elected PRI body, the two have helped in improving Gram Sabha participation, in the preparation of beneficiary list for schemes based on priority and other support services for the Panchayat.
All the PRIs positively responded to the orientation and have ensured their support and active participation in activities of the Project being carried out on field. Some of them have shown keen interest in understanding more about VOCC and expressed the interest in attending monthly meetings of the VOCC. The idea of Gram Panchayat Coordination Committee (GPCC) was also warmly received by the members and stated that convergence platform with CBO and line departments will help in achieving their dreams for their Panchayats and also to become a model Panchayat.