Social Inclusion, Mobilization and Institutions
Harnessing latent potential and helping communities work together towards a transformed society
Mobilization of poor to form their ‘own institutions’ is the most important prerequisite and the core investment for large scale poverty reduction. Therefore, NSRLM organizes all poor households into aggregate institutions of the poor that provide them with voice, space and resources. These platforms ‘of the poor’ and ‘for the poor’ partners with local self-governments, public service providers, banks, private sector and other mainstream institutions to facilitate delivery of social and economic services to the poor.
Social Inclusion and Universal Social Mobilization
In order to ensure that no poor family is left out, NSRLM use differential strategies for social inclusion/mobilization of all identified poor households into functionally effective and self-managed institutions, with particular focus on more vulnerable sections like scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, single women and women headed households, disabled, landless, migrant labour, isolated communities and communities living in disturbed areas. It identifies the poorest and vulnerable through participatory vulnerability assessment and ranking. The mobilization begins with them first. The mobilization effort then progresses with the satisfactory community readiness and milestones for various stages of mobilization and graduation as evolved and tested in a participatory manner. Existing institutions, their leaders, staff and community resource persons(CRPs) supports the processes of inclusion and mobilization.
Promoting Community Institutional Platforms of Poor
Strong institutions of the poor such as SHGs and their village level and higher level federations are necessary to provide space, voice and resources for the poor and for reducing their dependence on external agencies. They empower them and also act as instruments of knowledge and technology dissemination, and hubs of production, collectivization and commerce. NSRLM, therefore, focuses on setting up these institutions at various levels.
The Self Help Group(SHG) of 5-20 persons is the primary building block of the DAY-NRLM institutional design. It ensures that at least one member (woman) from each identified rural poor household is brought under the Self Help Group (SHG) network in a time bound manner. The idea is to reach out to all family members through women. Subsequently, both women and men would be organized for addressing livelihoods issues i.e. farmers organizations, milk producers cooperatives, weavers associations, etc.. The SHG serves the purpose of providing women members’ space for self-help, mutual cooperation and collective action for social and economic development. It promotes savings, builds own funds and becomes the local financial institution to provide a range of financial services including providing credit for debt-swapping and livelihoods.
Building Federations at Different Levels for Sustaining Collective Action
Building and sustaining institutions of the poor at higher levels would be for collective action, greater solidarity, bargaining power, economies of scale and larger linkages. Following the principles of subsidiary, the federation at each level has its own purpose, functionality and identity. These institutions are independent, yet organically interdependent. Building inclusive, participatory and accountable federations is process intensive. It requires sensitivity and active involvement of the constituent units.
Village Level Organisation (VLO) is the primary federation at the village or Panchayat level, close bonding 5- 20 SHGs for thinly populated areas. The VLO, through their various sub-committee, ensures all left-out poor households are brought into SHG fold; provides support services like trainings, book keeping, etc. to SHGs; provides higher order financial and livelihood services; and facilitates access to public services and entitlements.
Cluster Level Federation (CLF) or Block Level Federations (BLF) is the secondary federations at the Block level, bonding 5-20 VLOs. The federations are developed in five phases of pre-formation, formation, functional, growth and sustainability, over 3-5 years. Federations are legal entities, under Nagaland Society Registration Act, 1860, with their own articles of association to carry on various social, financial and/or business functions. With overall accountability to the general body, executive committee and various sub-committee functions and executes the plans of the federation through their staff, community service providers, professionals and/or and other human resources. Their capacities are built in micro-planning, business and market linkages, besides creating access to financial services. Generally, the financial services of the federations are limited to only members and their families. Only in case of vulnerable like destitute, persons with chronic diseases/HIV, disabled, single women etc., services would be provided to non-members also. The technical services (dairy, skill training and placement to Youth, marketing etc) may be extended to non-members also.
Federations are the support organization for the poor and as their strength increases, the role of external sensitive support organizations would decline. An “exit strategy” for the external support structure is in place.
Specialized institutions like Livelihoods Collectives
NSRLM also supports promotion of specialized livelihoods institutions for deriving economies of scale, backward and forward linkages, and access to information, credit, technology, markets etc. They would address the gaps in the production-distribution value-chain with backward-forward linkages and engage in co-production and delivery of livelihoods services to the last mile. These collectives can be in farm – agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries –sector, non-farm and service sectors.
Creating Social Capital
Since NSRLM will be effective only when it is driven by the poor themselves, the development of social capital of the poor to undertake this process is critical. NSRLM invests in creating a large pool of ‘social capital’ i.e. institutions of the poor, their members and office bearers, community resource persons (poor women whose lives have been transformed through the support of their institutions), and community professionals (master book keepers, village facilitators, community service providers, bank sakhis, and business correspondents), to support poor communities through ‘improved availability’ of their services, and to facilitate ‘increased access’ of services, entitlements and rights. If the social capital does not play the lead role in NSRLM, then the desired results will not occur as it will then be a ‘bureaucratically’ driven programme and not a people’s programme.
The social capital created is crucial for scaling up of NSRLM and for sustaining NSRLM. The poverty eradication strategy under NRLM would be successful only when it is completely driven by the poor themselves. The community resource persons are the “dynamic drivers” of NSRLM as far as the horizontal scaling is concerned. The federations of SHGs and their community professionals are the “static drivers” as far as deepening of the processes and sustaining them in a given area is concerned.
Through training, handholding and systematic guidance, NSRLM builds ownership and control of the members in the institutions. It builds capacities and competencies of members and office bearers, community resource persons and community professionals at each level. It builds the capacity of community institutions. NSRLM’s support structures (DMMU and BMMU) facilitates and nurture the institutions of the poor such that they become truly independent, self-managed and sustained on their own, over a period of time, until they become internal community-owned support structures– institutions of the poor. As they takeover more and more responsibilities in all the processes and at all stages, the role of the external support structure gradually shrinks or change. NSRLM facilitate this process, at various levels.