Districts in Odisha which are part of the Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi (KBK) trio are among the poorest districts in the country. This region lives a fragile unstable existence withstanding heat waves, floods and drought. 90% of the population of Bolangir and Nuapada districts, lives below poverty line and about 30% of its population is under-nourished. Recurring droughts manifested in almost an alternate-year cycle since the 1980’s have led to large scale distress migration in which poor and vulnerable people mainly from the marginalized caste and class are exploited endlessly. The plight of these migrants has been eloquently capture in the film produced by the Consortium, The Road Back Home.
In this distress migration zone, Lokadrusti, Vikalpa, Jana Mukti Anushthan, Shramik Shakti Sangha, Adhikar, Aanchalik Jan Sewa Anushthan, Bolangir Bikash Parishad and Bolangir Gramodyog Samiti have come together to form the Western Odisha MGNREGA Consortium (WONC).
With WONC’s effort carried out in campaign mode, significant improvement in household registration and participation in MGNREGS works is now being observed. The systematic campaign carried out by Vikalpa to maximize the registration of wage seekers and get job cards resulted in extending the registration to 93% of total households in 5 operating villages. Further, in the current year there was 119% increase in households submitting work applications to Panchayats. Similarly, the villages in Belpada block where Adhikar is active, recorded 99% household registration and 131% increase in households demanding work
- The basic strategy that WONC has been following is the creation of village level job seekers committees. Till date 266 such committees have been formed. They have been federated at the block and panchayat levels,with 40 Panchayat and 6 block level federations having been formed.
- The block level federations are, Sarbashakti Sramik Sangathan, Boden, Sramika Shakti Mahasangha, Bangomunda, Ama Shramik Mahasangha, Belpada, Chetna Shramik Sangha, Muribahal, Shramik Mahasangha, Turekela. Khaprakhol Sramik Mahasangha, Khaprakhol
- These federations are presently taking the lead in community advocacy and have organized Rozgar Divas under MGNREGA at the Gram Panchayat level every month.
- At present 30,000 job card holders are the primary members of six block level federation. Due to the effort of these committees, both at district and state level WONC has been able to convince the GoO to replicate the concurrent social audit in the form of Rozgar Divas.
- With the active participation of village communities and respective Gram Panchayats, 245 village level micro-plans were developed through intensive surveys and social mapping systems. These plans were approved by the latest Gram Sabha Sashakti Karan Karyakram (GSSK).
- The micro-plan developed by WONC network was unique as the plan could identify and focus on migration-sensitive households through social mapping. It was learnt through this process that 60 to 70% households are migration-sensitive.
- While formulating a strategy for the most vulnerable families, WONC partners tried their best to influence respective Panchayats to provide work as per the demand of migration-sensitive households. Due to their systematic approach, it was possible to reduce migration up to 45% across the villages