Chhenua: People Reducing the Menace of Water Scarcity through Cash For work
Chhenua is situated in Astaranga, a coastal block of Puri district of Odisha. It is a small village of 44 households comprising 174 populations. Earlier, Chhenua village was originally situated close to Udayakani village but due to the mass devastation in the 1999 super cyclone, the village was totally expunged from the map. The post-disaster consequences were so horrifying that it was difficult for the villagers to habitat in the same place. The havoc of the cyclone also had left with them a deep psychological stroke. As a fall out, they were forced to leave the village and resettle in a nearby place alongside the sea-bank.
The Chhenua villagers suffered a lot by the concurrent Cyclone Phailin and the flood. The unwarranted disaster eroded their assets as well as disrupted their lives. The saline water of the Bay of Bengal poured into the village during the landfall of Phailin. Many houses were scratched. The overflown saline water of Sea turned their agriculture land into sterile ones. The villagers also lost their daily wage based jobs as the scope of getting work was very difficult. The affected households also lost their food grains, utensils and other consumable goods. So, they were in urgent need of income in order to feed their families and to purchase like clothes, utensils, food items and other household articles. Scarcity of water was a long faced challenge for the community since the days; they have been resettled in the new place. The only tube-well of the village had been being used for bathing and washing clothes for the entire villagers. They were also unaware about the schemes and provisioning of Rural Water and Sanitation Supply (RWSS) Department. So the villagers were in urgent need of a village pond which would fulfill their need of water for bowel movement and bathing. ActionAid-Young India Intervention
Soon after the Phailin left, ActionAid with its local partner Young India
interacted with the villagers and did an assessment of losses and damages that has happened to the affected households in terms of lives and properties. Chhenua was one of the worst affected villages in Astaranga block due to this disaster. Keeping their vulnerability and need for basic amenities to the frontage, ActionAid decided to initiate Cash For Work (CFW) in Chhenua as part of its early recovery response programme supported by European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO). Through CFW, the beneficiaries were assured to get 50 days of work with a daily wage rate of one hundred and fifty rupees to each identified beneficiary. It was meant to generate demand and to support people to meet critical needs for vital goods and services. Process of intervention
Prior to the implementation of CFW, a village disaster response committee was formed in Chhenua. The committee was formed preceded by a village meeting in a public place. The social mobiliser (appointed by Young India for ECHO-supported early recovery programme) explained the purpose and procedures of the committee and the roles they need to perform. As part of the process to put in place the gender role well-exercised, it was decided that the village disaster response committee would be a seven member body and would include at least five members to females. Special preference was also given to the single woman, HIV/AIDS infected woman, disabled and socially disadvantaged woman to include in the committee so that their voices can also be raised. The committee was entrusted responsibilities like identifying the worst affected households, maintain common criteria to finalize the list of beneficiaries and making choice of the work as per their local needs. The entire villagers were more or less affected due to Phailin but keeping into the severity and the coping capacity to recover, the village committee finalized the beneficiaries for all who are under below poverty line (BPL). It was also unanimously agreed by them in a successive meeting that the community will excavate a community pond to meet the menace of water scarcity.The role of the implementing organizations was to facilitate the entire process and bring them into fore. The purpose behind such committee in CFW was to spawn leadership among women and to involve them in the decision making processes. The job card for CFW was given in the names of women of each selected households. Accordingly, the payments were also made into the accounts of women beneficiaries. The intention behind the practice approach was to ensure increased ownership of women in productive resources. This apart, a social audit of the CFW payment is being done for each payment schedule in order to bring transparency and accountability in the whole process. The entire process followed is being documented in the committee resolution book.Pond Excavation work- a story of change
It was unbelievable for the community that, they would ever be able to dig a pond of their own. It was a story of change in the lives of the Chhenua people. The pond excavation work was initiated by a group of 48 beneficiaries out of 37 households. After 30 days of work, the villagers started using the pond for their daily bath and bowel movement. A crèche Centre is being operational in the worksite where 10 to 12 children come every day and they are supplied with hot cooked food (khiri), safe drinking water while their parents work in the site. Chanduri Beua, a single woman (55 years) and a beneficiary under CFW is being engaged to nurture and rear children in the worksite. Every day, she prepares food for the children and making them play different traditional games. A first aid box is also hanged in the pillar of the crèche center i.e. in the worksite for use in case a mere casualty needed for the persons in work. In the worksite, a flex banner containing details of the project work, name of the work, estimated budget and no. of persons engaged for the work and name with logo of the implementing and donor agency. A complain/suggestion box has also been hanged in the main entrance to the village so that the beneficiaries can put their complaint/suggestion in the box. Positive Impact of the Work
Increased food consumption: As the beneficiaries got payments for their works, the cash enabled them to purchase grocery items and vegetables from the local market and thus helped towards better food consumptionIncreased awareness on NREGA: The process like use of job card, muster roll, functioning of Village committee was strategically used in Cash For Work which is being followed in NREGA. It was meant to literate people about NREGA. The community not only learnt the process but also came forward to demand job under NREGA.Improved practice of health and hygiene: Prior to Cash For Work, the people were accustomed to use the tube-well water as drinking water, toilet as well as bathing purpose. But now, this is no more seen in practice. They are using tube-well only for drinking water and using the water of pond for bathing and taking water for toilet purpose.The prevalence of self-dignity: Due to the menace of water scarcity, both men and women were using the same tube-well simultaneously for bathing and bowel movement. Now, the male members are using tube-well and motivating women to bath in the pond. This gives a well sight of self-dignity in the lives of women. Initiating Cash For Work in Chhenua allowed ActionAid-Young India to help those affected by disaster to reduce menace of water scarcity. The household choose the work what they decided in the committee as their immediate and utmost need. The participation of the community in the whole process helped to a long term solution to water scarcity. The people of Chhenua have recently demanded for job of 100 day each under NREGA and now hopeful of getting work as demanded. This can help them create more durable assets for their village; like the pond excavation one through Cash For Work.