Since 1994 to 1998, post earthquake
efforts involving participation of community was initiated in Latur and
Osmanabad districts of Maharashtra. This project gave us an unique
to work on rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. Swayam Shikshan
Prayog - SSP jointly with SPARC worked as consultant for community participationith
the Government of Maharashtra. The Reconstruction, Repair and
Strengthening (SSP) program covered two hundred thousand households in the two districts
of Latur and Osmanabad. In over five hundred villages, the SSP team
women's groups / Mahila Mandals to work as Samvad Sahayaks or village
assistants in the reconstruction program.
Wherever there was active participation by communities, the efforts initiated
new development processes and mobilized local resources. Women came out
and participated in the self help house construction program (as construction
labor). Earlier in the Marathwada area, women were trained to supervise
earthquake resistant construction. In addition, the women leaders initiated
Gram Sabhas or village assembly and linked with Gram Panchayat members
- to solve common problems such as water, transport, availability of
building of women's groups occurred
through wide range of learning activities.
Women from five hundred groups participated in melavas, shibirs, conducted
feedback to officials at taluka
and district. From
the reconstruction efforts, it was seen that there was a need to develop
Mahila Mahiti Kendras which meet information and training needed to upgrade
capacities of local artisans.
Strengthening local capacities
The Mahila Kendras would support and strengthen a local network of community
based groups. Over fifty
Mahila Mandals have shown tremendous interest in taking responsibility
for operationalising Mahiti Kendras. Majority of these groups have acquired
land for construction of Kendras, mobilized community contribution women
volunteers as labor and selected women volunteers as labor and selected
women for training as masons. These Mahila Mandals have development managerial
and technical skills for the reconstruction program.
At the cluster of ten villages, they continue to network with other groups
on issues of common concerns. Presently all Mahila Mandals have formed
savings and credit groups, and linked to banks. As community
resource teams, they monitor the functioning of schools, health centers,
anganwadis, and address issues
such as drinking water management, natural resources, etc. They interact
with development institutions,
taluka administration and gained credibility at all levels.
In the demonstration phase we have completed construction of three centers
in 1998 which highlight :
groups as managers of construction and infrastructure projects
Training of women masons
Demonstration of low cost alternatives for construction, sanitation, production
of building materials
Women's groups as facilitators as facilitators between communities and
Mahila Mahiti Kendra
The Mahila Mahiti Kendra was conceptualized as a multi purpose activity
center which symbolizes the local planning action and experimentation
by women's groups and community actors.
A Mahila Kendra is a space where women groups from surrounding 15/20 villages
can go for information, training, workshops, melavas, meetings with government
officials, learning exchanges with other groups.
MMK will work as a service center for the surrounding clusters of communities.
The Kendra itself is built as a demonstration building which can suggest
to groups various earthquake resistant (and low-cost) options. Moreover,
the MMK will rely on a team of trained women masons and construction supervisors,
and it will relate to Nirmiti Kendras (construction centers) for regular
The Kendra will be in constant contact with Mahila Mandals in the cluster
and with actors involved in village development, flow of information both
from government to the cluster and vice-versa.
MMK will play an important role in disaster preparedness, this by providing
information and technical assistance related to Earthquake Resistant construction,
both for traditional and new technologies.
Finally, the kendras themselves will function as small, mobile construction
centers, producing low-cost building components such as stone Crete blocks,
stabilized mud blocks, cement tiles, etc. They will be equipped with light
block making machines and cement mixers which can be moved wherever construction
is going on.
Information, networking and training amongst women groups, elected members
Dialogue with administration at district/taluka
Linking community groups with local development
Active participation of women in housing and construction
Information and training on disaster management
Participatory mapping for development of women's groups, elected members.
The MMK is a collaboration between Mahila Mandals, NGO's, Swayam Shikshan
Prayog (SSP) and the District
Rural Devolopment Agency (DRDA). In all cases:
Mahila Mandals have secured the land through negotiation with the Gram
Panchayat and/or private owners.
They are contributing labor, supervision/management, locally available
are raising funds through collection of donations.
SSP is facilitating the process, organizing and managing the training