The Integrated Rural Development of Weaker Sections in India (WIDA)


IRDWSI primarily works in organizing the rural poor, form into people's organization and later followed by training of village cadres in the villages who in turn play a catalyst role by educating and motivating the people in the village. After several discussions and series of meeting with the villagers particularly the target group, the project was able to conceptualize and concretize the aims of the programme into a specific agenda. The formulation of the agenda enables the staff and the villagers to have a coordinated and integrated message of development. Planning and implementation of the programmes are geared towards a holistic development approach with active participation of the whole community. The agenda of development as now become an agenda everyone in the village (children, youth, men and women). All the projects programme are streamlined and systematized towards achieving the set goals.

Community Meetings

In July 1981, the field staff began to organize community meetings in the villages and constantly explaining their involvement and the role of the people in development and forming into an organization. This is to assess people the people's attitude to their presence and their role to motivate the people. Wide ranging issues considered during these meetings cover coordination of the traditional authority, landlords and money lenders and the local government officials.

In 1982 the meetings were convened twice a month in 43 villages with an average of 30 people attending every meeting and in the second half year d 1997, community meetings were organized in 30 villages with 626 people (male 410 & female 276) attended, In these meetings people discussed on child enrolment, social forestry plantation programme, liquor, wage and teacher issues. The community meeting provided a space to air the problems and encouraged the people to freely share.

People's Organization P.O.

A village Committee was formed in 1981 and they have the freedom in identifying the programmers instead of the field worker imposing his/her views for the community, The aim of the committee is to bring the powerless unorganized people into an organization for which it will give an opportunity to the weaker sections to make that own decisions thereby, reducing the monopoly of the rural landlords imposing on their own priorities, Formation of People's Organisation ( locally called 'Loko Sangothana) is a deliberate attempt to provide a platform for the poor to raise their voices and protest against the exploitation by the landlords, middlemen, money lenders, high caste etc. The development committee is a referral body to implement the projects programme. The members of these committees represent the whole village and they meet them in a month or whenever they feel necessary. The functions of the committee are as follows:

-Bonded Labor
-Wages for agriculture and contract work
-Mortgage of lands
-Non implementation of government programmes
-Issues of the school teachers

In the month of October 1982, all the village development committees held a meeting in Semiliguda During this meeting we elaborate discussed development their day to day problems and their involvement. Nearly 180 members attended the programme, As per their decision, two representatives from each village again met in December, this time with that own agents and they dated the activities in their respective -Allege. In the end of 19K, the development committees were organized in 26 villages with a regular membership of 357 and meetings twice a month.

In April 1983 a meeting was held with the PO's and decided to strengthen their organization and also participate in issues related to socioeconomic and political oppression This year a total of 56 villages had organized People's Organization

In 1984, members d the Loko Sangothana from 14 villages ran for seats in the Panchayats election. In all these villages new ward members were elected from among the target grouts. The old ward members who were traditional and Old were defeated. The representation from the poor to the Panchayat could be instrumental to an extent in tapping the government programmes

As we reached the second phase, 60 villages were covered and PO were organized in 42 villages with total membership of 32 people, and increased in the first year of the phase to 68 villages and 764 members meeting and discussing. In 1991, a total 939 members belonged to the PO, whereas 82O were male and 119 were female.

During 1999, 6 villages were selected to register Peoples Organization under the Societies Registration Act,1860. The staff organized meetings with selected executive members (President, Vice-president, Secretary, Joint-secretary, Project leader, Treasurer etc.) where they prepared the registration documents. First regulation meeting was conducted and they applied for no objection certificate to the block development officer of Semiliguda.

Women's Group -W.G.

Our major success through the Nutrition Programme is the Organisation of the Women's group. Under the leadership of women's staff. the programme with women is organized to resist exploitation whenever possible, light against it and achieve equally. During the first phase of work it was noted that, we did not concentrate much on women who constitute hag of the population in the village. Hence,, programmes were formulated in 1985 to bring out women for discussion and participate in the development process. The scourge of alcoholism which was ruining the families and the ill effects of which had to be borne by women was used as the starting point of women's action programmes. In doing so, the women succeeded in making the people stop alcohol consumption and seek the wages for family use, This is for the poor tribal an astounding success and this achievement is maintained so that they may not relapse into alcoholism again.

31 meetings were organized in the field offices as well as in the villages in 1987 and 256 women were in contact from the villages.

In 1989, women's struggles for participation in the Loko Sangothana and community meetings Succeeded and are raw able to contribute, share their views and discuss their problems.

A training programme was organized for the women in 19M where they discussed women's leadership, decision making power, exploitation and women rights After the training programme, the issue of landlessness were taken up in 7 villages. Landless women were identified by the revenue inspectors and nearly ll5 acres of land was distributed by the government in the name of the women.

In 1990, two awareness camps were organized and nearly 900 women participated. The camps encouraged them to come together and share their problem. They discussed the issues of land, widow women's problem, drinking water and social forestry.

The consequences of deforestation and environmental destruction effects mostly the women in the village than the men. Women are very much related and culturally bound with the resources water, food, fodder housing and medicines. Women are the sufferers when forest is lost. In many villages the women's group have reached and approached the government to help them in raising the natural resource & with the help of the women staff of the project, the women in 14 villages received in 1993 nearly 1420 acres to develop forestry that would bring ease to their life

The Women's programme has such a profound effect not only on women of the region but also the communities in Koraput District. From almost a nonentity the women of Koraput have become one of the most influential factors in decision making at the community and village level.

In 1997, 174 women group meetings were conducted in 29 villages and 332 women participated. The women group discussing on the participation of women in literacy programme, girl child enrolment, decision making and reduction of unproductive expenses, fund raising and to use the Panchayat raj system in their favour for the development of women and the community, 32 women were trained during the same year from 15 different villages. The women members were trained on wage battered women issues, wife beating, marketing equal rights Panchayat Raj System & Govt. women development programme.

During 1999, six villages applied for registration of Women's society under the Societies Registration Act 1880. The staff organized meetings with selected members (President Vice-president, Secretary, Joint-secretary, Project leader, Treasurer etc) where they prepared the registration documents. First regulation meeting was conducted and they applied no objection certificate to the block development officer of Semiliguda.

Youth Committee

In many villages the young people (15-25 year-.) who had been disassociated for various reasons, came together in 1982 to form a youth association. The main objective is to foster leadership and to provide alternative decision making power in the villages. They meet once in a month to discuss general issues and problems of the village.

In 1982, we continued to organize youth committees and in end of l982, committees and in end 1982, committees were organized in 18 villages with 360 members .

Issues identified and successfully solved by the People's Organisation and Women's Group

Over the years the PO and WG has been struggling with various issues and problems in their respective villages. The following is only a few examples of what they achieved during the years as active organizations.

Community/ lndividual fund

To avoid unnecessary borrowings and not be exploited by the middlemen or land lords the people in the village have rated funds. Apart from the project contribution the development committee decided in 1982 to raise their own funds in terms of cash and grain. This is done by way of subscription, donation etc.

In 1989, the women raised funds in cash and grain in 9 villages. individuals savings were started by women in 14 villages in the bank and also at home. 96 women from 9 villages opened recurring deposit account in the bank In 1990, the women's group in 6 villages raised women fund and 5/- per family is collected every month and deposited in the bank The LS, in 1991 had raised village funds in 22 village communities. In 1997 six villages raised grain fund, and the total amount of grain was 468 kgs (Ragi & Paddy). In 20 villages, the amount of 1200 kgs of ragi and paddy was collected as of 1998.


In 1989, women raised agricultural wages in 4 villages women got equal wages and in another village women raised vote and demanded equal wage from the contractor. In many villages, people has started demanding fair and minimum wages as fixed by the government .


Whenever the people go to the markets or out of the village they come back home fully drunk The drunkard men creating problems in the family and beating the wife and children. Liquor problem was taken up and people now reduced considerably the intake and even few individuals have given up drinking. Women from 2 villages achieved in the beginning of 1989i to stop the liquor vendors to sell alcohol in their villages, as well as they motivated the men not to drink liquor, and later the same year 7 villages stopped brewing alcohol. By education and communication we were able to regulate consumption of alcohol in 98 villages.

In 1997, two dalits of Kunduli area started liquor brewing in the village. The women's group destroyed the liquor bhatti and informed the superintendent of police of Koraput. The liquor brewing in the village was stopped. The members of PO and WG have decided to take action on brewing and consumption of alcohol by collecting cash as fine.

Bonded Labourers

Bonded labourers are identified in the villages and are motivated and educated on how they are exploited and oppressed. Almost all the identified and contacted bonded labourers are-being released by themselves from the landlords through educational efforts.

Implementation of Government Programmes

Women groups achieved in 1989 to meet the local government officials and expressed their need without fear. Now the women can freely express their problems with the government.


Forest issue was dealt in 59 villages in 1993. The people in many villages protect their Forest and in harassment and cut the eucalyptus trees planted by the government which are rot eco-friendly. The youths are taking more interest in preserve and protect the forest. In 1983, 3 villages called a community meeting with the neighboring village people on forest issues. The village people stopped cutting forest trees and 2,000 local plants were planted in the forest by the people.

The protected forest of two villages was cut by the nearby villagers. They organized meetings and warned the nearby villagers and forest guard. The problem was solved and now the people of the villages hove formed a joint forest management committee.

Compensation to the displaced families; Thirteen families in one village were in 1993 displaced by the construction of a multipurpose dam. The concerned officials collected money un-officially from the displaced families. The youths of the village complained to the revenue officer, and the collector was ordered to pay back the money


In 1997, drinking water issue was taken up in two villages since it was a big problem in the 41ages, People approached the Block Development Officer, and later they provided tube wells to the villages. In 1998, during water issue was taken up in villages. They do not have enough drinking water therefore people are suffering from waterborne diseases including diarrhea. They complained to the Block development officer and they sank wells and tube wells


People in 5 villages had a perennial problem of having access to the main road as there is a river de-linking them from the main road, People of the villages approached the District Collector two times and requested him to construct a bridge over the river so that they can also cross the river during rainy season.

ICDS Regulations

The people in 4 villages approached the Child Development Project Office and complained against the irregular functioning of the ICDS feeding Centers. The CDPO instructed the ICDS workers to be regular in their duties and it is now functioning regularly.

Teacher Issue

Teacher issue was raised in 3 villages in 1997 as the schoolteachers of these villages were continuously absent from duty. The people approached the sub collector and complained against the non functioning of schools. Now teachers are staying in these villages and schools are functioning

Old Age Pension

Old age pension was raised in two villages in 1997 .People met the Gram Panchayat Officer and five people received old age pension to the Block Office.

Panchayat Road

Village Panchayat road issue was taken in 3 villages as they had promised to reach the market and Panchayat office as there is no proper connecting road. The people of the villages filed a complaint of the BDO of Semiliguda for construction of a road. The road construction work was given to the local people and was completed in 1999.

People's Platform - Tribal Mela

While working among the people particularly the Tribals the staff were slowly made aware of the potential values in the indigenous society. Tribals are slowly loosing their identity, language, cultures communitarian values, social and family life and very importantly the success resources land, forest and water, We realized that there is no unity among the different HW communities among in the area. They are united only at village levels, there is no platform or a forum of the tribals, by the tribals and for the tribals.

n 19992, the p attempted to bring all the t6bals from the region together for a cultural get-together. The members from different tribal communities decided to form an informal organization among the tribals and called for a meeting of the indigenous people in the region in 1993.The meeting threw light on the following issues:

  • To bring unity among the tribals
  • To strengthen the tribal dialect
  • To create awareness on forest
  • To be aware about children's education and adult literacy
  • To utilize government programmes

The members of the informal Organisation had in 1993 formed an association called 'Adivasi Unnayan Sangha' and the WIDA project is now working through this association on issues related to land wages, bonded labour, mortgage of Land. etc.

Seminars and Consultation

To strengthen and equip the staff and the villagers, seminars and workshops are selected for the people to attend and On more techniques and analysis to sharpen their understanding of the process of development.

In the beginning of the third phase, a three-day seminar was organized for all the target -villages in Semiliguda block (90 villages). From each village, one man and one women represented the village. This programme was organized to bring people together to know and study their attitudes, expectations and their role in development. More than 180 members attended and everyone participated in the workshop, Staffs role and their assignment were re-designed basing upon the experience from the seminar. I was proposed that in the future, to organize such workshops at least thrice in a year.

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