The Rise and Rise of People-Led Organisations

The success might appear small at the national level, but it is huge for Chetna Samiti Kullu because their efforts to strengthen communities’ preparedness towards disasters was already coming into action and the recognition by the Government of Himachal further emboldens them to expand their work.

By Suresh Satapathy
State Coordinator | CASA

A people-led organisation appeared on the front pages of local newspapers in northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh when it won the prestigious Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Leadership award in October 2018 from the State Government.

A youth Community Based Organisation (CBO), an affiliated junior organisation under Chetna Samiti was also rewarded for best stories of ‘Resilience.’ The CBOs associated with Chetna Samiti have worked on Timber rights, Forest rights, Right to information, Right to food and other Government schemes.

In 1995, CASA floated a wing in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh to empower the marginalised section of society. The first strategic step in this long-run program was to set-up ‘peoples organisation’ also called as PAT unit. These organisations engaged the local people and groomed them to take-up the responsibilities (leadership building), speak-up for their rights and challenge authorities legally in case of injustice.

Chetna Samiti Kullu is one such federation of three peoples organisation – started in 1995; it worked with marginalised sections by understanding their issues and needs and finding possible solutions. The Samiti also gave significant emphasis on governance and environment.

The Samiti is now part of Multistakeholder Mountain Collective platform which gives opportunity to the local people to put up their grievances at state and national levels. Besides, it also works for livelihood promotion, accessing entitlements, mountain water, climate change and rights of vulnerable mountain communities.

In 2015, CASA took note of the extraordinary work done by the Samiti and gave more power by rewarding them an entire setup. Now Chetna Samiti Kullu is a registered organisation and is working in collaboration with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and other state government organizations.

The Samiti through NABARD aid is helping women farmers in doing organic farming, linking them to markets and empowering them to become independent entrepreneurs.

With its immense contribution in various fields, Chetna Samiti Kullu has grown so much in stature and efficiency, spreading its reach as far as becoming the part of the advisory council to Kullu District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

The Samiti works with DDMA in charting out District disaster management plan and has also developed DRR micro plan for a model village in Himachal Pradesh. The State Government recognised their quality work and has further asked them to develop DRR micro plan for other villages of Kullu district.