Swarnivar --

April 9th, 2001

Ananth C.

 

Folks,

Here are some answers to our questions about Swarnirvar from yesterdays meeting from the project steward of Asha-Madison. Read on...

-Ananth

 

Hi Ananth,

Sorry, I did not respond to your earlier mail.  I will answer your questions sequentially.

 

Hi Murali,

 

We discussed Swarnirvar and I have some questions regarding the project:

 

1) Do we have any other recent site-visits from Asha besides the Jan 98 one?

 

Yes, one of the volunteers here in Madison visited Calcutta and managed to talk to Sujit personally although it was not an actual site visit.  It was more so to the point of flood relief work that Swanirvar was involved. The school was water logged and the first floor was converted to a shelter for most of the village people for several weeks.  I believe the school is back in action and running now.  There should be a detailed report once Shanumuga visits the site and makes a video documentation of the site with interviews.

 

2) How are the parents involved in the day-to-day functioning of the schools? Is the local panchayat or so involved?

 

The parents are involved to a great degree in the functioning of the school.  Although they are not involved in the day-to-day activities, they are involved in the welfare of the wards and are in constant touch with the teachers.  They are also involved in the social activities that Swanirvar organizes.

 

3) As I noted in my summary that I sent to you, I have no idea if the villages supported by Asha, CRY and AID are diff't or not. Do you?

 

Swanirvar has several programs and I cannot say for a fact that there is no overlap of fund usage

 

4) Do you have any further clarifications on any super-structure above Swarnirvar, perhaps this "Vikramshila" that is mentioned in Arnab's site visit report?

 

I have no info on Vikramshila.

 

5) What are their plans for self-sustainability? Is it even realistically possible?

6) If so, how are they planning to implement it?

 

Swanirvar has come a long way since their inception.  The NGO is well recognized within the state.  The programs that Swanirvar has developed and implemented are not only popular but successful as well.  The programs are aimed at community development and as such cannot be sold as a product.  The goal is to get the people of the village on their feet and running with programs meeting almost every need from basic education, to agriculture, environmental issues, health care, etc.   Swanirvar is getting money both from the Indian govt and NRI's as well.  If you are asking whether they have a product that they can market and sustain, the answer is no.  However, they do have time-tested success with the villagers.  I suppose all their programs will seek funds either locally or from orgs elsewhere.

 

In my opinion, Swanirvar is one of the most down to earth and realistic NGO's that is doing a great job.  So much so to the point that the local govts (panchayat or municipal) are interested in promoting the programs.  Swanirvar has a wide range of funding sources both Indian and International. Sujit was on tour of most of Europe last year soliciting money and the response has been very strong.  The reason we sought a video documentation of Swanirvar was due to the fact that they have sustained themselves and have a vision that is set very far into the future.  They can be promoted as a model NGO nationwide so that others can follow suit.  Swanirvar is actively engaged in several developmental programs at the block, district and state level in teacher training (including local govt schools), NGO development seminars and conferences.

 

Is this a foolproof situation? The answer is no.  In my opinion, if Swanirvar has programs that will address the needs of the villages, then I am sure they will be able to sustain themselves without a problem.   I am not elaborating on this issue too much.  I will mail you the annual reports right away. I will mail you the video tape once I have a copy made.  Most of these issues will be clear to you once you read the annual reports.

I hope I have answered most of your questions.  Feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

Murali

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

April 8th, 2001

Old Project Discussion

Ananth C.

 

Swarnirwar (means self-sufficiency in Bengali).  Swarnirwar is a rural development project with an aim on self-sufficiency. The organization provides local leadership for local problems. The governing body is involved in solving the local problems. It is a democratic and decentralized organization. According to CRY, they are developing into a state-level resource agency.

 

"Swanirvar was founded in 1989 by Dr. Sujit Sinha, a Princeton graduate. It aims to bring about socio-economic development in the region by addressing the problems faced by the villagers that are related to healthcare, sanitation, and agriculture, besides imparting primary education."

 

Swarnivar is located in south east part of West Bengal.  Agrarian society. The land has been destroyed by using lots of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There is a serious lack of basic social necessities such as health care, literacy, and self-sufficiency.  This NGO has been funded by CRY, AID, ASHA and other Indian / int'l organizations.

 

CRY has been funding Swarnivar since 1992.  In 2000, CRY gave $14,035 (Rs. 6.31 Lakhs) for education, health and administration costs.  Over the period of 8 years, CRY has funded Swarnivar ~$90,000.  The money is effectively for 15 villages, 1100 children, 38 children, teacher training in annual/quarterly workshops and health camps for each village.  CRY's website has detailed reports about this Swarnivar.

 

AID provided $4000 since 1996 for health care aspects to 14 villages.  AID Dallas provided $1500 in 1999.

 

ASHA LA/MIT has been funding Swarnivar since 1995 to 2000.  A total of $9000 in this duration.  This money has been used for educational aspect of 5 villages.  Used to hire teachers, provide materials, meals to about 200 children. 

 

ASHA - Madison has provided $1500 in '98 and $4000 in '99.

 

Swarnivar seems to be part of another parent organization - Vikarmshila, mainly supported by CRY. 

 

Swarnivar is a rural development project, taking a holistic approach to achieving self sufficiency.  It provides local leadership to local problems, much like how ASHA prefers to see solutions found.  Local concepts are used to explain practical / global situations, similar to non formal education.  Toys used are made from the environment.  Their current need is more committed volunteers, as opposed to more money.  Alternative teaching methods are used, keeping children informed about local community issues. 

 

As mentioned, Swarnivar does provide an integrated look to rural development, which includes an agricultural aspect education and health.  Mr. Sujit Sinha had realized at the start of the project that it is important to have an integrated approach for rural development, as opposed to solving singular problems at a time. 

 

Part of their development is to come up with cheap infrastructure, like a toilet that is cheap to construct and solves the purpose.  They try to provide model infrastructure as opposed to modern means, which are more costly.  Maybe their solutions can be distributed to other NGO's.

 

Mr. Sinha has maintained working relations with local community/govt. representatives. 

 

Ananth had a video of Swarnivar, made by AID, talking to Mr. Sinha, and seeing the teachers / children in action.  It also showed the locally designed infrastructure and regular visits of doctors to the villages. 

 

Swarnivar is very much dependent on foreign donations, without thoughts of sustainability. 

 

Children participate in community activities, such as surveying the people of villages about education / literacy / school efficiency etc.

 

Over the 10 years of this project, the parents do feel there is an improvement in their life, and are satisfied with Swarnivar's efforts. 

 

The community has some role in the social activities and school, though no daily responsibilities.  

 

In '94 - '95 their annual budget was ~ Rs. 16 lakhs, majority from private funding.

 

This did seem to be an interesting project, something that ASHA can learn from, and radiate to other NGO's.  Should ASHA do something about this project hereon?  At this stage, Swarnivar maybe in need of constant funding, but cannot be considered a 'catalysis for change'.   Ananth will get in touch with ASHA-Madison, and get whatever information he can find.  We want to learn from this project, and distribute the knowledge to other organizations.  How?

 

Doing some math by the dollar amount provided to Swarnivar, it seems it would take ~$1000 to sustain a village per year.  Extrapolating this, for the sake of consideration only, there are 500,000 villages in India.  Thus, the need of the day is $500 million yearly to educate the children in India.  This amount is much more than ASHA / AID / CRY's annual budget.  How can UPE be met with such challenges?

 

Self sustainability has been a criteria within ASHA 'guidelines'.  How can sustainability be achieved?  Provide vocational training?  Money generation schemes?

 

Money generation schemes can have negative impact, as an organization may end up focusing on money generation schemes as opposed to educating the children.

 

What is a reasonable criteria expected for sustainability?

 

Maybe ask the NGO to increase sustainability and decrease foreign contribution, i.e. take small steps.

 

Should ASHA have a rule regarding sustainability concerns, or loosely termed objectives?  Philosophical discussion to be continued at another time.

 

Another solution would be for the organization to be people focused as opposed to achievement focused.

 

 

 

 

Swarnivar Report

April 7th, 2001

Ananth C.

 

Swarnirwar (means self-suffiency in Bengali):

 

Websites related to Swarnivar:

http://www.ashanet.org/mit/Public/www/Projects/swanirwar/summaries/project-swanirwar-app.html

http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~asha/projects/swanirvar.html

http://us.cry.org/projects/projects2k/proposals/swanirvar2000_2.html

http://www.aidindia.org/projects/health/swarnivar/swanirvar.html

 

Swarnirwar is a rural development project with an aim on self sufficiency. The organization provides local leadership for local problems. The governing body is involved in solving the local problems. It is a democratic and decentralized organization. According to CRY, they are developing into a state-level resource agency.

 

"Swanirvar was founded in 1989 by Dr. Sujit Sinha, a Princeton graduate. It aims to bring about socio-economic development in the region by addressing the problems faced by the villagers that are related to healthcare, sanitation, and agriculture, besides imparting primary education."

(Source: http://www.ashanet.org/library/newsletters/news2000.html)

 

Location:

North 24 Parganas district, south east part of West Bengal.

 

People:

Agrarian society. The land has been destroyed by using lots of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There is a serious lack of basic social necessities such as health care, literacy, and self-sufficiency.

 

Funding:

This NGO has been funded by CRY, AID and Asha.

 

CRY:

It has funded Swarnirvar since 1992. In 2000, CRY gave $14,035 (Rs. 6.31 Lakhs) for education, health and administrative costs. Based on the amounts below, I believe that CRY has given more than $90,000 to Swarnivar over a period of 8 years.

 

92-93: Rs. 1.45 Lakhs

93-94: Rs. 1.05

94-95: Rs. 2.25

95-96: Rs. 2.08

96-97: Rs. 1.75

97-98: Rs. 4.99

98-99: Rs. 5.99

99-00: Rs. 6.31 Lakhs

 

The money is effectively for 15 villages affecting 1100 children and 38 teachers, teacher training in yearly and quarterly workshops, and health camps in each village.

 

AID:

$4000 since 1996 and continuing (?) for the health care aspects in 14 villages.

(source: Aid main webpage)

Aid Dallas - $1500 in 1999 (part of total Aid ?)

 

Asha-LA/MIT:

95-96: $1500 ($750-MIT+$750-LA)

96-97: $3000 ($750-MIT+$750-LA+$1500 Share+Care foundation)

97-98: $3000 ($750-MIT+$750-LA+$1500 Share+Care foundation)

99-00: $1500 ($1500 - LA (?) )

 

Asha-Madison:

98 - $1500 (along with RPSV of Wisconsin)

99 - $4000 ($1000-Madison+$1000-RPSV+$2000 Share+care foundation)

 

MIT/LA money has been used for educational aspects in 5 villages. Whether it is diff. from CRY villages or not is unknown. It has been used to hire teachers, provide materials and meals to about 200 children. Arnab for Asha-Madison in his site visit report (see below) to the Swarnivar's main site at Aandharmanik village states that Swarnirvar is actually one part of another NGO called "Vikarmshila", which he claims is mainly supported by CRY. Although, I did not see that any such thing in the CRY webpages.

 

Recent Site visit - Asha_Madison:

http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~asha/projects/swanirvar_report_arnab.html