Adivasi Ekta Sasaktikaran Sammanaya (AESS), which means ‘Regional Initiative for Tribal Empowerment and Solidarity’, is functional in 238 villages across 12 Gram Panchayats under 8 blocks in Koraput district. A poverty analysis by ActionAid showed that there was a need to address poverty issues through building the capacities of local organizations and tribal activists. The main objective of this network is to give a space to activists to work in a rights-based campaign mode without being burdened by organizational responsibilities. Ekta is the lead partner in this network. AESS has made significant achievements on key rights:
Right to Livelihood and Food
- 2116 people have now received ‘certificates of title’ to land.
- Enabled 56 old people and 22 widows to receive their pensions.
- Facilitated 450 people to get work under MNREGA.
- Supported 750 families to open accounts in post offices to ensure that their labour wages are paid directly.
- Formed a district level women’s forum for the first time.
- 34 women participated in our meeting with the District Administration and presented issues regarding their day-to-day survival.
- 2 ICDS/Anganwadi centres functioning properly after intervention.
- Under Forest Rights Act, 206 widows filed for land titles to forest land which had being cultivated by their husbands.
Right to Identity
- ‘ADIVASI’ has been designated as a special religion, to be mentioned during the 2011 Census after advocacy by community leaders.
- 10,000 leaflets were distributed to make the tribal community aware about degradation to their culture, heritage and identity.
- A workshop on communalism was conducted to sensitize the community to the politics behind the communal riots and its impact.
AESS & Sponsorship
- Sponsorship plays a major part in the AESS project. In the last year, 700 case histories have identified and profiles and photographs of children have been sent to supporters. Sponsorship creates a direct link between children and supporters.
- Children are considered representatives of their communities and a window through which exchange and learning can take place.
Children’s Rights and Right to Education
- Altogether 92 children, including 21 girls, were enrolled in school.
- 230 children are now receiving one free daily meal in 5 schools.
- 8 Children’s Assemblies, including 88 children, have been formed to educate children about their rights.
- 63 schools are now functioning properly following initiatives taken by AESS activists in association with local people.