C-NES Newsletter (Vol: 24)

By the Brahmaputra (Vol: 24)
C-NES Newsletter
(For the quarter October – December   2013)

 Editorial

By the Brahmaputra

Water, water … and dams without data

A simple question: if you are suddenly told that the father or uncle you have known all your life is one foot taller than he appears to be, how would you react?  With a mixture of disbelief, surprise and concern –it could even dramatically affect the relationship, or certainly to a degree.

This is, of course, allegorical. How would it affect us if the ‘relative’ was a natural resource and entity on which we have long depended or which has been critically prominent in our history, geography, culture and sense of location – of who we are? Scientists now say that the Brahmaputra, which bisects Assam and the North-east, could be 1,000 km longer than what it has been long estimated to be: i.e. it is probably 3,900 km long, not 2,900 km.  That means that everything has to reassessed, recalculated and revisited, especially for geographers, hydrologists, researchers and other scientists studying the river, its environment and its people. How much sediment truly comes down the river: is it 1.4 billion tons every year (a figure calculated on the basis of some sampling and extrapolation) or much more?  How much water flows through the river at different time?

For those who are opposing dams on the river, especially in upstream Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, this should be a fresh tool in their quiverful of arrows.  If hydrologists, engineers and dam makers – as well as the rapacious politicians, bureaucrats and contractors – are making feverish plans to block the rivers in the Eastern Himalaya, they must be asked in public, through the courts and in the media a very fundamental question: on what basis — of volume of water at different seasons, sedimentation and seismic proofing – have you made your calculations?  A second logical question should follow: who supplied the data and how dated is it i.e. when was the data provided and of what vintage or how recent is it?

Everything that was calculated on seasonal flows, water discharge, sediment load, erosion capacity and factor as well as velocity and chemical composition has to be redone.  In other words, even to a non-engineer and non-scientist like me, those in favour of big dams on the Siang, Seyom, Lohit, Subansiri, Kameng and the 40-odd rivers that flow into Assam from the Eastern Himalaya are suddenly finding their various limbs considerably shorter since they have been making all their estimates and projections from incomplete and inaccurate data! Basically, it means that all previous calculations have been wrong.

This is a devastating fact and is an issue that must be raised forthwith with the North-eastern Bench of the National Green Tribunal, now located in Shillong. The National Green Tribunal (also known as the NGT) and headed by former Supreme Court Justice Swatantra Kumar has had the Centre running all over the place, including officials who were so furious with its  activism that they pledged in private to ensure it was wound up (they were told that if they did not comply with its orders they would face contempt of court charges, which meant possible jail terms and ruination of career).  The NGT has, in recent times, been one of the most clear-headed voices not just for protecting the environment but ensuring that by doing so the rights of the weak and vulnerable, the poor and dispossessed are protected and not trampled upon by a combination of callous government, corrupt politicians (and babus) and conniving industry (that includes contractors).

Is it not surprising that some of the poorest people on the face of the earth and certainly in this country live in those areas with the richest mineral and natural resources? Just take the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna River Basin as an example; or the Eastern Himalaya – the abode of the gods, the lands where the snow and rain feed the greatest rivers on earth, but are still home to some of the poorest hill groups in the world.  This obvious inequality tells us that governments, civil society groups and industry have got their priorities wrong for a long time; that policies have benefited elites at the expense of the poor. It can’t be business as usual for industry and government, which are often in bed with each other. But how is it to be changed?

In the past two weeks, I have traveled between Guwahati, Dhaka, Delhi, Katmandu and Southern India. In Guwahati, Dhaka, Delhi and Katmandu, I was in meetings, conferences and discussions on issues related to water sharing, water dialogues and mountain communities.  At the core of all these conversations and dialogues was a common thread: the vulnerability of the poor and how governments of each country of the region (from Afghanistan to Bangladesh) had failed to raise people out of poverty.  Some had done a better job than others – Bhutan and Bangladesh, in part, for example.  But overall, it is a miserable story made worse by the continuous conflicts and armed movements for unattainable goals that have only, through the relentless use of violent means, have ensured that the daily wage earners and poor especially women and children remain disadvantaged, unhealthy, uneducated, hungry and poor.

These days, I see some hope and a positive approach in the ability of many governments to acknowledge that past policies and practices have failed, that they need to reinvent government strategies and make it much more inclusive. It’s what’s called ground truthing: that after decades they are beginning to heed the voices of ordinary people and persistent calls for specific changes. Such conversations were impossible some years back.

In Meghalaya, the government has started – on a small but significant scale, the Integrated River Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme which is not donor driven or Centrally pushed, as are far too many programmes in the North-east, but designed by local officials and politicians who are firmly grounded and sensitive to local concerns, needs and aspirations as well as ways these can be met.

They also know that such policies can’t be r developed by outside interventions like the international funding agencies.  In Delhi, one scholar suggested that to make good use of the plentiful fruit and vegetable crops in the hills which rot because of lack of substantial buyers, chilling plants and processing units as well as transport, the North-east should ask Chinese producers to come there. I laughed out loud:  our problems, I said, were much more internal than anything else and needed an internal resolution not a Chinese quick-fix adhesive.

I tried to explain: why was it, despite having captive markets in Myanmar, Bangladesh and the North-east,  despite the much-touted ‘Look East Policy’, and an Investment Policy tailored for the region, that not a single major Indian food processing had come to tap its resources? Because they’re not sure of their bottom line, they’re scared by the ‘image’ of the region and they find that their rupee goes much further in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana or Maharashtra.

Yet, in many cases, all that’s needed to make our village producers viable is the basic unit of connectivity: one truck every day to take the produce on a small road from one or a cluster of villages to a market – in season time, regularity builds sustainability and that makes for good business. Perhaps this is where the National Diary Development Board, which has diversified into different food products and now has a presence in Guwahati, can enter.

Yet, this can’t happen with a Business As Usual approach.  The Aam Aadmi Party has stunningly shown that people are ready for a change, if those who talk about change are prepared to face the hustings to pursue their convictions. This is why it is now time for both for some of those who have taken the road of political agitation to move to the path of organized elected politics and for those who have stayed away from politics but spoken on policies and the need for transformation to become part of this process, getting away from rhetoric, promoting dialogue, equal partnerships and true power sharing. 

 

Sanjoy Hazarika
Managing Trustee

(From his regular column in the Assam Tribune published on 11th December )


Workshop on “Poverty and Funding in the North East; focus on drinking water and sanitation”

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At the workshop: (Sitting from left)  Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman, senior researcher of the project, Rajib Sharma ,former Deputy CAG,GO, Managing Trustee Sanjoy Hazarika and  Dr Axel Harneit Sievers, Country Director,Heinrich Boll Foundation   image002
An interactive session at the workshopimage003
Dr Axel Harneit Sievers(right), Country Director,Heinrich Boll Foundation with C-NES  staff at the workshop (from left ) Sangeeta Baruah Rajkumari, Programme Assistant, Chandana Bora , Family Planning Coordinator, Manik Boruah, Associate Progrrame Manager and Bhaswati Goswami,Communications Officer

C-NES  organized a one-day workshop on 28 October, 2013 at Guwahati with a focus on the drinking water and sanitation sector in  Assam as a part of a project on “Poverty and funding in the North east: States of Assam and Mizoram” supported by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, Germany. The study examines the relationship between central funds flow to the North East states and poverty. Over 30 participants attended the workshop including the Country Director of the Boll Foundation Dr Axel Harneit Sievers and Gitanjali More,Programme Coordinator, representatives from  the media,  related government departments, civil society organaizations and C-NES staff including Managing Trustee  Sanjoy Hazarika, Dr D.Das,CEO, Manik Baruah, Associate Programme Manager,Bhaswati Goswami,Communications Officer,Arup Saikia Distrct Programme Officer Boat Clinc Tinsukia, Chandana Borah, Family Planning coordinator and Sangeeta Baruah, Programme Assistant.

“Sanitation is an issue of human right. We need to bring in better understanding among public and bring in some behavioral changes” said Managing Trustee C-NES, Sanjoy Hazarika in his opening remarks.  Highlighting the importance of this study he added “Inspite of so much of central funding to North East India(for sanitation and water supply ), reality is that conditions have not improved. We need to cover the gaps. With this limited study with limited team( two researchers for each state)and resources we have tried to analyze the  effectiveness of policy implementation and the public perception” He thanked the Heinrich Boll Foundation for supporting C-NES in this study.

Introducing his organization as a “Green Political Foundation” in Germany Dr Axel Harneit-Sievers,Country Director,Heinrich Boll Foundation   said that “We are interested in North East India’s social and political issues including political dialogue  and governance issues and were happy to  be working with C-NES  in an earlier study as well .The North East has become the focal point of our work since the last three years. We have been following this project very closely and hope to learn a lot. Many of the issues we have here are common throughout India but some of them have a NE flavor and approach. So the project will help in pointing out to the issues of governance in the region”.

The workshop was chaired by Mr Rajib Sharma ,former Deputy CAG,GOI  who congratulated C-NES for choosing this  topic which was not “glamorous”  but a very important one  as water and sanitation play such an an important role in the dignity of human life. He said that the team has put in a lot of work and needs to be appreciated. Dr Jayanta Madhab, Economist and  C-NES Trustee  present at the workshop spoke on how relevant such a study was more so in areas where the organizations boat clinics operate.


 “Where there are no roads” screened at New York 

The documentary  ‘A measure of Impunity’, directed by Maulee Senapati and produced and scripted by Sanjoy Hazarika  was screened at the Rubin Museum in New York .  The event on Sept 25,2013, drew a focused audience which asked many questions of the discussant after the film.

‘It was a great program overall,’ said Dr. Matt Fetter, Director of Programming at the prestigious American art museum.  In the absence of the Director and the Producer  of the film,the Museum requested Dr. Nimmi Gowrinathan, a Political Scientist based in the US, who focuses on gender and violence, particularly during insurgencies to respond to and answer questions from the audience on issues raised by the documentary, including conflict and its impact on women, especially in Nagaland and Assam.  Many of the questions from the audience focused around the issue of rape and how various communities react to women who were raped; this was apparently the aspect of the film that affected the audience the most.  This is Hazarika’s second film to be screened at the museum, one of the leading museums of the United States; ‘A River’s Story, the Quest for the Brahmaputra’ was screened in 2006; the director of the river documentary is the acclaimed film maker Jahnu Barua while Hazarika also produced and scripted it.


Community celebration

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Aauniaati Satra
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Garamurh Satra Rash
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Art competition at Kerker
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At Sengelisuti

The Boat Clinic teams in all districts through their long sustained services have integrated with the local communities to whom they take health services. During November 2013, the Jorhat team participated in the renowned Ras Mahoutsav depicting the life of Lord Krishna at Majuli the famous river island and the core of Neo Vaishnavism in Assam. Virtually every person on the island is involved in the three day festival. All communities in the island play a part during the time. The team also took part in community singing of spiritual devotional songs called Paal Naam at Majuli’s  Garamurh Saru Satra(monastery),visited the famous Aauniaati Satra and met the spiritual head of the monastery (called the Satraadhikaar) Sri Sri Pitambar Dev Goswami.
 

 

 


At Jorhats Kartik sapori

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 Chief Executive Officer (CEO) C-NES Dr. Dipankar Das visited the  Jorhat Boat Clinic during December 2013. He visited Salmora and Kartk. He also met villagers and talked with them on issues which concerned them.

There were awareness camps in  12 campsites. Various topics like Dengue, Breast-feeding, J.E, importance of ANC and Immunization, safe drinking water were discussed at the awareness camps. DPO with the community workers, ANM and other villagers also took part at the sessions. An art competition at Kerker and singing competition at Sengelisuti was also organized.


Water Futures in South Asia : A dialogue

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The Opening Session : (From left) Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, Department of International Relations of Dhaka University, also the Coordinator of the Water Futures Dialogue from Bangladesh side, Mr. P.R. Sinha, Country representative of IUCN and  Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research of Jamia Millia Islamia, Managing Trustee C-NES and the Coordinator of the Water Futures Dialogue for the Indian side.image016
At the end of the cultural evening melodious Bihu complete with the traditional instruments like Dhol(drum) pepa(pipe ) and taal(cymbals) took over and everyone joined inimage014
Sangeeta Baruah from C-NES,Guwahati gave a solo Bihu performanceimage012
 A group photograph before walking to the river island village in Central Assam’s Morigaon  district to observe the functioning of Boat Clinic run by C-NES which runs health camps in some of the most difficult and remote Brahmaputra river islandsimage010
On board the Morigaon Boat Clinic to visit a health camp image008
C-NES Guwahati team  singing a few timeless songs of the Bard of the Brahmaputra,Dr Bhupen Hazarika whose songs are mostly related to the land and this river. image006
Prof Nasreen Ahmed ,Pro-Vice Chacellor,University of Dhaka deliveres the special lecture. image004A session in progress at the Water Dialogue

An Indo-Bangladesh Dialogue titled “Water Futures: A Dialogue for Young Scholars and Professionals” was jointly organized by Jamia Millia Islamia, India and University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, supported by IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) project Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative. The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna (GBM), the three major rivers in South Asia, along with their tributaries drain an area of about 1.75 million square kilometers and have direct impact on around 620 million people.  The first ever of its kind in the region, the overall objective of the dialogue was to provide opportunities to emerging practitioners to learn cross-country and cross-sectoral strategic, managerial and technical initiatives for sustainable water management, including food and environmental security.

C-NES Guwahati coordinated and provided technical support to organize the dialogue in India. Ten participants from each country attended the programme which began in Guwahati, India and ended in Dhaka from 14 November 2013 to 26 November 2013. Working days were divided into four sessions, including lectures and discussions.  The course was designed for young professionals, environmentalists, scholars, journalists, creative artists, researchers from water resources and environmental disciplines, young government officials and young policy makers from Bangladesh and India.

The Opening Session commenced with inaugural remarks by  Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research of Jamia Millia Islamia, Managing Trustee C-NES and the Coordinator of the Water Futures Dialogue for the Indian side, Professor Imtiaz Ahmed Department of International Relations of Dhaka University, also the Coordinator of the Water Futures Dialogue from Bangladesh side and Mr. P.R. Sinha, Country representative of IUCN- India. Professor Hazarika welcomed the participants and delegates from both Bangladesh and India to the conference and thanked IUCN  for giving enormous support to the project. ‘When we talk about water resource management, we are talking about the sustainable development of all societies and all in society. It is about saving children from diseases. It is about allowing girls to go to schools instead of walking kilometers to fetch water. It is about providing women and men with access to sanitation, wherever they live. Fundamentally, it is about peace, on the basis of dialogue between countries and across the region’, he said. According to him, both India and Bangladesh share many factors in common especially the North-east and despite contradictions have much to learn from each other. Despite abundant availability of resource and river basin at its disposal these countries strive for prosperity and economic sustenance.

‘Water cooperation is about fighting against poverty and hunger and protecting the environment’, said Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, ‘When it comes to water, science tells us one thing and social science tells us something else. So as long as the water is concerned, we should consider both science and social science’. Mr. P.R. Sinha, shared his  personal apprehensions about the initial stage of the development of “Ecosystems for Life”. He admitted that such polemical issues that are conceptualised and framed as dialogues needs to be properly implemented. As he had been engaged in the arena of wildlife for a long time- period, Sinha believes that along with scientific objectives of specialists, common masses can also equally contribute and influence in policy- making.

Leading environmentalist, scientists, professionals, scholars, activists and representatives from related organizations attended the Dialogue as resource persons and participants.

The course was interactive, including films, music, games, lectures, discussions and field visit to the banks of river Brahmaputra in India with intense interactions with communities living along the river.On 15th November evening Prof Nasreen Ahmed ,Pro-Vice Chacellor,University of Dhaka delivered a special lecture.Special guests were invited for the lecture.This was followed by a musical session where the C-NES Guwahati team  sang a few timeless songs of the Bard of the Brahmaputra,Dr Bhupen Hazarika whose songs are mostly related to the land and this river. The participants from Bangladesh and a few guests also sang and contributed to the evening which concluded with a Bihu dance, joined in by the guests as well. On the 18th a trip to Morigaon district in central Assam was organized to observe the functioning of Boat Clinic run by C-NES which runs health camps in some of the most difficult and remote Brahmaputra river islands. There was a briefing before the visit and opportunities to interact with the medical unit and villages were made possible as well. The participants went to the camps on the Boat Clinic sailing on the Brahmaputra for around two hours and then walking to the island village Hamur char for around 4 KMs to reach the camps.

On the final day 19 November a cultural programme”Cultures along the River”  was curated onboard by Sanjoy Hazarika  and Dileep Chandan,Editor of the   Axom Bani  where renowed vocalist Mitali Dey sang  well known Assamese and Bhatiali river songs along with a few Bhupen Hazarika masterpieces. The participants were entertained to some more cultural performances – Folk dance Bagromba of the Bodo tribes and Bihu  was performed by artist Anita Sharma and her troupe as they sat by the bonfire and mingled with one another. Sangeeta Baruah from C-NES,Guwahati gave a solo Bihu performance which was highly appreciated.  At the end of the evening melodious Bihu complete with the traditional instruments like Dhol(drum) pepa(pipe ) and taal(cymbals) took over and everyone joined in .The  Indian segment ended with this wonderful Cultural evening. The following day,20th November the participants departed for Dhaka, Bangladesh to attend the Second leg of the workshop.


CSR-CSO Bridge: Forging Partnerships in the North East

Communications Officer Bhaswati Goswami making her presentation on the Boat Clinics at the CII event

Communications Officer Bhaswati Goswami making her presentation on the Boat Clinics at the CII event

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organized the second CSR-CSO Bridge: Forging Partnerships in the North East on 11th December at Nedfi House, Guwahati. The conference was a platform for the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) who represents the interests, needs and concerns of the society and the environment and needs the support of adequate and continuous flow of resources for their interventions on the one hand and the corporate sector on the lookout for viable mechanisms for integration with the grassroots to deploy their resources effectively on the other. Bridging the CSR CSO connect is essential to catalyze social change through interventions in a wide range of areas impacting societal and economic development. The conference discussed the changing paradigm of CSR post the Companies Act 2013. Under the newly amended Companies Act passed by the Parliament, large business houses have been asked to spend 2 percent of their profits each year on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Participating in the conference Dipak Chakravarty, Chairman CII Assam state council and Managing Director Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) stressed the need to evolve partnerships and pointed out that this platform is a good way to increase awareness and understands each other’s strengths and competencies. Gayatri Subramaniam,Convenor and Chief Programme Executive,National Foundation for CSR, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs gave the key note presentation .Bhaskar Baruah, former Union Agriculture Secretary and President of the Guwahati based organization Atma Nirbhar said that  CSR activities should be prepared with civil society after understanding the concerns of the people at the grassroot level. Hasina Kharbih, founder of the Shillong based Impulse Network which works on human trafficking shared her experiences, the challenges and corporate support the organization has received. She stressed that CSR activities should take ground realities into factors and needs of the beneficiaries should be the main determining factor. Executive Director of IOC, Assam Oil Division, Barun Barpujari  asked the Corporates operating in the north eastern region to increase their activities  for the underprivileged.”The private players operating in the region need to increase their activities under the Corporate Social Responsibility scheme so that poor people are benefitted. He said that a section of Central Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) has been doing remarkably well. Citing an example in this regards,Barpujari informed that the IOC,Assam Oil Division has prepared an action plan to work in agriculture and food processing sectors in the state. “We are planning to motivate the farmers towards multi cropping to become self reliant. Similarly we are in the process of introducing job oriented courses for the youth” he said.

Communications Officer, C-NES  Bhaswati Goswami  participated in the  event and showcased the unique Boat Clinic initiative as a case study on how business houses can inter-weave CSR as part of their business strategy and societal commitments at the Technical session on Developing CSR Priorities to Adopt and Integrate Societal Needs.She invited the Corporate Houses present on the occasion to support the organizations grass root based work  reaching out to the most underprivileged and marginalized communities inhabiting the Brahmaputra river islands in the state of Assam .  Her co panelists were Prof Sanjoy Mukherjee, Faculty,IIM,Shillong,Mr Akhilesh Yadav, Regional Manager (East) ITC,Mr Rajeev Kalita,Deputy Manager- HR,IOCL(AOD)  and Arman Ali,Executive Director,Shishu sarothi.The session was moderated by  author and journalist Kishalaya Bhattacharjee.


NRI doctor narrates his experience at a Boat Clinic health camp

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Dr Kotoky volunteering at the health camp

 

Participating in the boat clinic for the first time was a unique experience for me.  There is no doubt that the entire programme led by the DPO (District Programme Officer) was organized in a systematic manner and the teamwork was excellent.  To organize such a programme for at least twenty-one days in a month must be a daunting task for the organizers.

While the nurses started immunizing the children and the two doctors registered the adult patients including the ante-natal check-ups, I chose to examine the children accompanied by their parents.  One of the community workers helped me in history taking as it was difficult for me to understand their dialect.  I documented their attendance by using a register and, after examining them, wrote out a prescription for each child using the medicines that were available.  Majority of the children had superficial skin infections of the exposed areas which, in some cases, were of many months duration.  These, I attributed to lack of personal hygiene and also due to the environment in which they play. Among the twenty five children that I had seen, one had a Congenital Heart Disease, undiagnosed earlier, and accompanied by failure to thrive. I recommended urgent referral to Guwahati Medical College for investigation and management.  In the meantime, my wife (Neena) was busy onshore giving health education to the few children and their parents who had gathered there. She covered personal hygiene, importance of education and also kindness to animals.

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No doubt this ‘Yeomen service’ carried out with  the untiring effort of the C-NES team since the year 2003 has penetrated one of the most deprived and impoverished section of this region.  Similar health services, run by the state and the central government, when uniformly and properly implemented in the other rural regions of North-East in general and Assam in particular,will certainly go a long way in ensuring ‘Health For All’ in years to come.  Perhaps other  non-resident doctors from Assam and the North-East  too can contribute in joining the C-NES team to offer voluntary service while  holidaying in their home land.  Let us give back something to the community even though it would be a ‘drop in the ocean’. 

Dr Utpal Kumar Kotoky
Pediatrician, Dubai, UAE


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p style=”text-align: center;”>Communications Officer Bhaswati Goswami  in a phone in TV programme on the Boat Clinics for Guwahati’s  Prag Channel on 16th Dec,2013 .


Family Planning Initiatives

At the training on capacity building for Ashas and ANMs

At the training on capacity building for Ashas and ANMs

A two day capacity building training for ASHAs and ANMs on family planning and reproductive health was organized under the PFI project at the District Training Centre (DHS) in Bongaigaon District on 21st and 22nd November2013.  33 participants attended the training which included ASHAs from the chars of Boat Clinic intervened areas, ANMs and community workers from Bongaigan Boat Clinic.

Chandana Bora, State Advocacy and Family Planning Coordinator;Monjur Mondal, District Programme Officer (DPO), Bongaigaon Boat Clinic; Vicky Das, Accountant cum Project Assistant for the PFI supported project;.Shibjyoti Roy, Family Planning Counsellor and  Boat Clinic team were present.  Dr. HiranmayAdhikary, Joint Director of Health Services, Bongaigaon; Dr. R.K.Patwari, Addl.Joint Director of Health Services, Bongaigaon; Smita Roy, District ProgrammeManager, NRHM, Bongaigaon district and JyotirmoyGowsami, District Community Mobilizer, NRHM, Bongaigaon were also present in the training and acted as the resource persons to provide the training.

Awareness sessions

Sonitpur district:

An awareness camp on family planning was organized on 18th December 2013 in Batuli char under Bihaguri block in central Assam’s Sonitpur district. Kabita Nath Family Planning Counsellor C-NES explained the purpose of the session. ASHAs  and Aganwadi workers were present. The Sonitpur boat Clinc DPO,MousumiDuwarah explained the meaning of family planning and the importance of family planning in today’s world.MO  DrHemanta Deka talked about the different methods of family planning(Temporary and Permanent Methods) and also explained about the incentives given to the adopters of permanent methods. DrGunjit Kalita spoke about the benefits of family planning and how it is beneficial for the people of char saporis.An interaction session was held amongst the ASHA, Aanganwadi Workers and the doctors.Tohora, ASHA worker from Soraibeel and Fatema,Aangwadi worker from Dhumkura were felicitated for their good performance.

Barpeta district:

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThe  District Media Expert(DME), NRHM, Barpeta, District Family Planning Co-ordinator, NRHM, Barpeta, the Accounts  Manager, NRHM, Barpeta, the Associate Programme Manager, C-NES, Guwahati and Accountant cum project assistant , PFI, Guwahati were  present at the family planning awareness session organized by the Barpeta Unit 1 Boat Clinic team on 24th December 2013 at Kasumara char.The DME spoke about the various schemes relating to family planning and later requested the villagers to come forward for adoption of such methods. After this the District Family Planning Coordinator showed samples of CC and OCP to the villagers and discussed both temporary and permanent methods which they can avail. Tthe team answered questions from villagers and addressed issues of ASHAs and AWWs in the camp.

Morigaon District:

The family planning awareness session at Morigaon’s Chitolmari Char

The family planning awareness session at Morigaon’s Chitolmari Char

State Family Planning coordinator Chandana Bora was present at the awareness camp on family planning  at Morigaon districts Chitolmari char on 24th December 2013 along with the boat clinic team. The camp was organized at the Chitalmari char LP School premises. ASHA worker Gulnehar Begum was present in the camp and informed the people earlier about the camp, Around 65 women and 7 men were present in the camp.Chandana Bora explained about the importance of family planning with the help of IEC materials and also tried to motivate the people with references through hadis as the all audience are belongs to minority religion. All the family planning methods were discussed with the help of posters and flipchart. Medical officer and ANM also helped in this process to make them understand how it’s affecting the family and health too.

A hand washing session was also demonstrated with the help of other staff of the team with the children. Health and hygiene were also talked and five step of hand washing was demonstrated with the help of children.

Inspiring moment

The camp at Barpeta’s Dhuler Char was arranged by the Barpeta Unit II team on 21 September 2013.  The highlight of this camp was that after regular counselling and holding awareness sessions related to health, hygiene and family planning, the team was able to succsfully motivate no less than the islands village head “ Goan Burah” and his wife to adopt family planning, extremely relevant and challenging in such communities dominated by religious minorities for whom family planning is almost taboo. The wife came to Boat for IUCD insertion and said that her husband attended last month’s camp awareness meeting where he learned about family planning and its benefit. “An  inspiring moment for the team” said Swapna Das the District Progarmme Officer.


IUCD camp by Bongaigaon Unit

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The IUCD Beneficiaries  being helped by the team, ANM and Ashas  in filling up the relevant forms before insertion

The Boat Clinic unit, Bongaigaon conducted an IUCD insertion camp at Jogighopa and Kochudola ghat in the boat on 29th October,2013 in collaboration with  District Health Society Bongaigaon and respective Boitamari BPHC. The daylong camp’s main target  was  women with two or three children and applicable as per norms of IUCD. The team had given the responsibility to ASHA, AWW and village leaders to bring the beneficiaries to the camp site after being motivated by the team.  ASHA brought the beneficiaries by boats and vehicles to the camp site where 16 beneficiaries were inserted IUCD.  District Family Planning Coordinator (DFPC) Miss. Chriestaina Kalokhe Iswari and District Media Expert Chandra Rava also visited the camp site.


IUCN Consultations on Lives and Livelihoods in Chars: C-NES participation

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) organized a Consultation focusing on the lives and livelihoods of the people in chars (river islands) on 11th December 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand, attended by delegates from India and Bangladesh. The objective being to discuss  the vulnerabilities faced by the people living in the char land ,sharing the knowledge and experience between the neighboring countries and focusing on the initiatives to improve the livelihoods of these char people.

The river islands popularly known as the chars are an integral part of the rural environment in Assam and are spread over 14 districts. These are geographically isolated areas and cut off from the mainland. The living conditions of the people in these chars are very poor with an average per capita income of less than Rs 100 per day(less than 2 $ per day) and vulnerable to natural disasters like flood, land erosion, inadequate access to education, healthcare and even basic needs of survival. Livelihood is a challenge to these people and thus to the C-NES group who is providing services to convert these challenges into reality. One of the major areas of concern focused by Chandana Bora, a team member of C-NES, is bridging the gaps and to overcome the problems of connectivity to these areas.  She focused the concept of “How” and not just “What” needs to be done. The Ships Of Hope – Innovative concept of boat clinic is a great success in meeting the connectivity in these areas.These boats are operating in 13 districts of Assam providing sustained healthcare, with special attention on women, children and vulnerable adults. She also shared her knowledge, experience  and findings as a state coordinator of a 3 year project on population control (supported by Population Foundation of India, PFI) and highlighted on the direct relation between population control and economic growth of these areas


IUCN Consultations on Lives and Livelihoods in Chars: C-NES participation

  State Family Planning coordinator Chandana Bora speaking at the consultation


State Family Planning coordinator Chandana Bora speaking at the consultation

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) organized a Consultation focusing on the lives and livelihoods of the people in chars (river islands) on 11th December 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand, attended by delegates from India and Bangladesh. The objective being to discuss  the vulnerabilities faced by the people living in the char land ,sharing the knowledge and experience between the neighboring countries and focusing on the initiatives to improve the livelihoods of these char people.

The river islands popularly known as the chars are an integral part of the rural environment in Assam and are spread over 14 districts. These are geographically isolated areas and cut off from the mainland. The living conditions of the people in these chars are very poor with an average per capita income of less than Rs 100 per day(less than 2 $ per day) and vulnerable to natural disasters like flood, land erosion, inadequate access to education, healthcare and even basic needs of survival. Livelihood is a challenge to these people and thus to the C-NES group who is providing services to convert these challenges into reality. One of the major areas of concern focused by Chandana Bora, a team member of C-NES, is bridging the gaps and to overcome the problems of connectivity to these areas.  She focused the concept of “How” and not just “What” needs to be done. The Ships Of Hope – Innovative concept of boat clinic is a great success in meeting the connectivity in these areas.These boats are operating in 13 districts of Assam providing sustained healthcare, with special attention on women, children and vulnerable adults. She also shared her knowledge, experience  and findings as a state coordinator of a 3 year project on population control (supported by Population Foundation of India, PFI) and highlighted on the direct relation between population control and economic growth of these areas.

Group Photograph of the participants at the IUCN Consulataion at Bangkok

Group Photograph of the participants at the IUCN Consulataion at Bangkok


Brahmaputra Community Radio Station

Narrowcasting of radio programs emphasizing on the use of iodized salt

Narrowcasting of radio programs emphasizing on the use of iodized salt

C-NES’ UNICEF supported Radio Brahmaputra conducted narrowcasting of radio programs emphasizing on the use of iodized salt in four different language/ dialects- Assamese, Shadri, Bhojpuri and Mishing in the tea garden, island and other villages of Lahowal and Barbarua Dev. Block,District Dibrugrah,Assam. The programme was a part of Iodine Deficiency Disorder day on 21th Oct, 2013,

The specially designed infotainment program  was to create awareness on the uses of iodized salt along with the preservation, importance of iodine for different age groups, consumption level and harmfulness of high salt consumption. The program consisted of Radio Drama, voxpop, interviews with doctors from Assam Medical College Hospital, Dibrugrah. The Assamese version of the program consisted of short drama, interview with the community on their knowledge on uses and consumption of iodized salt and the Doctor’s interviews asbed on the communities perceptions over iodized salt.

This 30 minutes program was scripted by the Radio Brahmaputra and communities from the nearby villages participated. In the Assamese drama,villagers of Ikaratali Handique Goan participated in the drama.  “Digamabar Kaka” was played by Sri. Naren Handique, a 55 year old daily wage laborer from the Ikaratali Handique Gaon. Another character “Jamini Aita” was played by Ms. Pratima Handique, a 50 year old house wife and mother of 6 children from the same village. The role of “Nikit” was played by Pinku Handique, a class 2 student of Ikaratali Langsuwal L.P. School

Dr. Tulika Goswami Mahanta, Associate Professor, Dept. of Community Medicine of Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh gave her inputs on the usage, identification of iodized salt, importance, and reason behind iodine deficiency along with the hazards of high consumption of salt specially amongst the tea garden community context in this program. In other versions of this program in Shadri (tea community dialect), Bhojpuri and Mising, doctor’s talk was dubbed in the respective language and dialect for better understanding for the community.

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