Realizing the gravity of the issues of human trafficking and forced/bonded labour in the brick kilns in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state of India, In the year 2019, Samata, along with its partner, KBK Resource Centre Initiated rescue drive to rescue the child labour, forced labour, and victims of human trafficking from brick-kiln and to provide them with access to compensation, and rehabilitation and resettlement. Samata is working directly in Andhra Pradesh and through KBK Resource Centre spreading over 30 villages in Balangir district of Odisha to intervene in problems of trafficking, migration governance, human rights, labour rights, social security and informal sector and child rights. Samata along with KBK Resource Centre has a track record of rescuing more than 10,000 bonded labourers including child labourer from brick-kilns in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and providing them access to compensation in the last four years. Know more
Tribal Children Summer Camp
Samata organized a two-week summer camp from 22 May to 28 May for orphans and single-parent children at Pratusha Girls Hostel, Araku. The aim was to provide skill training and personality development for these tribal children through extracurricular activities like traditional dance forms, music, drama, and yoga. We arranged resource persons from the related field, such as Rangacharyulu (Art teacher) from Rishi Valley School, Sahiti (Music teacher) from Kakinada, Kalidas, and Mahesh from Geetanjali University, West Bengal, and Krishna Sri (Yoga teacher) from Visakhapatnam. A total of 68 tribal children participated and took advantage of this camp. The program was educational, engaging, and entertaining as well. This program was a huge success. The final stage performance was on 29 May 2022. Summer Camp Gallery
Samata Fellowship Program on Constitutional Values
Samata believes in the strength of the grassroots and has planned programs and activities to involve community workers as the foundation of our work. Samata has always encouraged and facilitated grassroots workers. In the past, samata had started CryNet Collective - an organisation to support many individuals, CBO's and small NGOs to establish as strong organisations. In today's context, establishing the rule of law is of topmost importance because the values in society are getting distorted due to various socio-cultural dynamics. Therefore samata felt that a focus on the fundamental values of our constitution is the need of the hour. Keeping in line with this objective, we have initiated a fellowship program across AP, Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal tribal areas. The fellowship is on the fundamental values of Justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. The fellows (men and women), while coordinating and facilitating the needs of their communities, encourage a discussion on the above values as they are the basis of our constitution. They also take up programs with children, youth, and adults to read the constitution's preamble and connect the dots to enable a vibrant discussion at all levels.
Samata supports 20 such dynamic fellows, and through them, the reach is 5,56,000 people spread across 26 districts in 5 states of India- Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkahnd, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. The fellows work with more than 30 indigenous communities including the particularly vulnerable tribal groups. So far the fellows have helped rescue close to 7000 bonded labour across the country and helped 5700 individuals get job cards under MGNREGA. The fellows have successfully helped local communities to file Individual forest rights pattas (IFR). They have helped file 5200 IFRs across the five states. The Dhimsa magazine run by one of the fellows is the only local indigenous magazine that has been running for 20 years and is also listed in the Library of Congress in the United States. So far more than 1000 publications have come out focusing on issues of tribal welfare, forests, environment, Constitutional values etc. The fellows also do training and capacity building of the women on various issues. So far they have reached more than 5000 women through various development programs. During the covid pandemic, 18000 migrant workers were helped to reach home safely and find work. 32 youth groups have been formed at village and district level.
Covid-19 & Our response
Samata has been at the frontline to provide relief to the migrant laborers, vulnerable and marginalized people affected by the pandemic. With lockdowns in every state being slowly lifted, and the number of cases and deaths spiking, containing the virus has become even more critical. Samata has been tirelessly working on the ground to provide food, rations and hygiene kits to the poor, and also performing the important task of creating awareness about the virus and preventing its spread, educating people on social distancing, helping to combat the stigma, providing shelter and setting up community kitchens for those in need.
Social Animators Program
Samata also has a social Animators program specifically to facilitate the proper resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced families from the Polavaram multi-purpose project on River Godavari.
The Polavaram irrigation project is being built at the cost of Rs. 16010.45 Crores (with 2010-11 price level) on the second largest river of India, Godavari. This large dam project accorded with the title of "Dams of National Importance" will displace over 300,000 people residing in 300 habitations across Andhra, Odisha and Chhattisgarh —including 150,000 Adivasis and 50,000 Dalits. This dam displaces the highest number of people in India's history of dam displacement.
On the one hand, The Government has completed 70% of dam construction. In contrast, only 25% of The resettlement and rehabilitation work is completed. There is a blatant violation of the rights of the tribal and Dalit populations. Therefore, samata supports various Animators to help the displaced.
Samata Tribal Desk
The Tribal desk facilitates various tribal communities that approach samata with their legal and administrative issues. Samata has a set of legal advisors and other experts that it consults when the need arises.
Samata facilitates negotiations at the village, and at appropriate levels on behalf of the communities and assists the communities in matters of information and representation to the statutory authorities. Samata offers free legal advice and other documentation support.
Samata is geared up for natural disasters and other emergency relief activities. In the past, samata had supported various rural and tribal communities in floods and cyclones. The last two years of the Covid Pandemic Samata extended the following support.
- Conducted relief activities in West Bengal. Provided dry ration to more than 2500 families in Birbhum and Pashim Bardhaman districts of WB
- Conducted relief activities in Visakhapatnam. Provided dry ration in agency areas and slums of Visakapatnam and the tribal villages of Borra Panchayat to 1036 families.
Action Research & Policy Intervention
As samata services a large number of communities who require constant flow of information to support their demands with the authorities, we undertake action research to support our arguments or the communities demands. Recently Samata published an article as a chapter of the “Seminar” magazine on Extrativisam during Covid. We were part of the UPR (universal periodic review) of the government of India through the Ministry of external affairs and the NLUD (National Law University Delhi) on the rights of the tribal and other marginalised communities.
Recognising our work on tribal rights the Chhattisgarh State Planning commission has requested our Executive Director to be the chair of a working group on Tribal Administration & Governance.
Similarly during the covid pandemic various schools and law colleges have requested Samata to share the experiences and sensitise their students on tribal development and samata judgement.
Education Support & Skills
Due to the long-standing connection with the tribal communities in north Andhra Pradesh, samata has a constant stream of requests from tribal students for support. Samata responds by using its network and connections and even raises financial resources through crowdfunding.
The youth in the tribal areas have government support till their high school, and after that, they have to find their way. Samata has a specific program of tribal youth counselling in which we are Targeting more than 2000 youth in the tribal districts of Andhra Pradesh and providing education and career counselling. So far, we have covered more than ten government schools and junior colleges.
- Samata has always believed in empowering the tribal communities, and to this end, we have adopted a unique method of encouraging community-driven income generation.
- Samata started with cashew farmers marketing initiative in late 1980 in east Godavari district linked to the social forestry project of ITDA (tribal welfare dept).
- Samata secured a 20% share for the Borra tribal guides working at the caves in the ticket fares in the early 1990s.
- Samata Organised the tribal vegetable growers of Sovva into an association and introduced them to retail markets of Visakhapatnam city. Today more than 600 tribal farmers access the farmer's markets in the city.
- It has initiated the community-based tourism project in Katiki VIllage, where there is a waterfall, and it has now become a popular tourist destination. The community collects a small fare from the visitors and manages the waterfalls and the resources collected.
A Telugu monthly magazine independent of Samata to take the issue of people forward and thus, emerged " Dhimsa '' after the tribal dance of Paderu agency. It has been running since 1998, and the Library of Congress in Washington has given a control number. All the issues are available online through a Perma link.
mines, minerals & PEOPLE (mm&P)
Started a national alliance of communities, academicians, NGOs, and other people concerned with mining and its ill effects - mm&P ( mines, minerals & PEOPLE) evolved to be India's only and largest national mining alliance. It also has an international presence as we are the editors of MAC: Mines and Communities. The alliance is spread across 16 states and tackles various issues like Climate change, land rights, human rights, forest rights, mining, future generation fund, children and mining, district mineral fund, occupational Health, migrant workers issues, business and human rights. Today, mm&P is made up of over 100 grassroots groups and over 20 supporting organizations across 21 states in India. mm&P has developed community resource guide for the layperson to understand mining projects (Community resource guide)
It would take many pages to write about the past activities of samata spanning three decades. Samata has touched upon every aspect of tribal life and their struggle to find life with dignity. Some of the highlights are listed below:-
- Social Forestry - Facilitated and empowered tribal communities in Visakhapatnam district to execute social forestry even before the Forest Rights Act came into being. Worked closely with the Ministry of Tribal Welfare and ITDA
- Joint Forest Management - Empowered tribal community to be part of the Village Forest Committees for sustainable forest management. Part of Government committee on JFM
- Water Management - Executed various projects for safe drinking water-gravity flow drinking water, micro-hydel and watershed management in tribal districts of Andhra Pradesh
- Children in Mining Areas - Samata has worked extensively on the subject of children in mining areas by conducting workshops and capacity building training to educate and provide safe childhood to children in mining affected areas. Samata has also come up with a community resource guide on children in mining areas (Community Resource Guide).
- Crynet Collective - To create a state network of CBOs and local organizations to empower them to access development funds and establish as a strong grassroots organization working with the communities and thus. "Crynet Collective" emerged.
- Balamitra - joyful education project - Samata undertook a successful ten-year project of Balamitra schools. We had one main training centre and four smaller training centres and schools in 75 tribal villages. Samata developed its curriculum based on a unique system of learning in their mother tongue while using songs, dance and play to teach the basics to the students. The curriculum included traditional knowledge and insights from the tribal communities, and we had teachers from the community teaching children. The school was closed after the right education act came into force.
- Health - As samata always worked in interior tribal pockets away from the main roads, we had trained Nurses as part of our local teams to take health care to the last mile. Those days three decades back, there were no roads, no medical facilities except the malaria worker. Samata has organised medical camps and reached out to the tribal communities during the rainy season when viral fevers are rampant. The government has improved its outreach, and we have ambulance services.
Advocacy on Tribal Issues
- Protection of Constitutional rights of the tribals as in the Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution
- Support to tribal community struggles for protection of their rights against the proposed bauxite and other mining activities in tribal and forest lands
- Facilitating assertion of forest rights of tribal people and resolution of conflicts vis-à-vis State forest policies
- Campaign against largescale displacement of tribal people for proposed irrigation projects
- Monitor public policies relating to tribal people and dialogue with government
- Advocate for and support sustainable community managed alternative systems of development
Strengthening Tribal Self Rule and Decentralized Governance
- Realization of the goal of Tribal Self Rule through promoting decentralized governance institutions like the Gram Sabhas (village councils)
- Building capacities of communities to assert for constitutional and customary rights
- Training tribal women to take leadership in governance institutions and in community struggles.
- Strengthening collective actions and solidarity among Gram Sabhas to support local campaigns
- Support in setting up primary level community schools and dialogue with government to fulfill its mandate of universal primary education
- Assist children in enrollment into government residential and primary schools
- Mobilise community responses to ensure better school management
- Develop tribal contextual curriculum and promote tribal culture through education
- Explore resources to support higher education for meritorious tribal students
- Mobilise resources and technical expertise for providing potable drinking water
- Mobilise resources for providing housing material
- Explore alternatives to energy and irrigation needs like construction of micro-hydro electric projects and check-dams with community management
- Lobby with government for implementation of development programs for infrastructure
Monitoring Mining and other Industries:
- As National Secretariat, facilitate the work of a national alliance of mining struggle groups and communities in India called “mines, minerals & PEOPLE”
- Campaign for protection of rights of communities and workers affected by mining from green-field areas to abandoned mine-sites
- Monitor global mining industry and mineral policies
- Coordinate support to the “International Women and Mining Network”
- Network with mining struggles within the country and with international groups
Support to Community Based Organizations (CBO’s):
- Support local campaigns of CBO’s in the region of north coastal Andhra Pradesh
- Capacity building and training of CBO’s for organization management, linkage, resource mobilization, documentation and community mobilization skills
- Mobilise financial and other resources for the grass-roots work of CBO’s
- Facilitate linkages with government and other institutions for local issues
- Facilitate legal aid, media advocacy, campaign, documentation, research and development support
Advocacy on Urban Environment Concerns:
- Mobilise urban public opinion on public policies and state programmes
- Participation and support to urban citizens forums like “Forum For a Better Hyderabad” and “Forum for a Better Visakha”
- Support CBO’s represent the problems of urban poor and migrant communities