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AGRI-CLINIC & AGRI-BUSINESS CENTER: AWARE has been approved as Nodal Training Institute (NTI) by MANAGE (Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare) to conduct Training in Agri-Clinic and Agri-Business for Unemployed Agricultural Graduates /Diploma Holders/similar qualification. The training is for 60 days at Pujyashri Madhavanji Agricultural Polytechnic, at Aswaraopet Campus, Khammam District.... Read more...
Integrated Rural Development Program
An Impact Study of AWARE’s Program Among Harijan, Girijan and Mixed Communities, now Independent from AWARE by Dr. F.Wills, Institute of Social Studies Advisory Service, The Hague, Dr. V.B. N. S. Madduri, Central University, Hyderabad, Dr. K.C. Alexander, National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, Dr. Mrs. Neera K Sohoni, Stanford University, Stanford

Report Published by: Institute of Social Studies Advisory Service (ISSAS), P.O.Box 29776, 2502 LT The Hague, The Netherlands



In 1992/93 an impact study was carried out of AWARE’s program with harijans and girijans in various districts of Andhra Pradesh, AWARE, one of the largest NGOs in India, had been working in some 1500 villages from which it had in the meantime withdrawn its staff though still maintaining some connection with those ‘Independent’ villages. Amongst the latter there were, really two ‘generations’ of (clusters of) villages: those who had gone through AWARE’s long (1-12 years) intervention cycle and others who had passed only through an abbreviated cycle of some 5 years. AWARE decided it wanted to measure the impact of its work on the harijans and girijans prior to extending its program to another region, and/or add a new developmental stage to the one it has already covered in the by now ‘independent’ villages.

Research Design and Methodology

To measure the impact of its work, research instruments were developed from the social sciences. AWARE’s own set of specific objectives were used to develop a questionnaire, and indicators were systematically identified to see whether the expected results had been achieved or not in the field of
  1. Economics (such as higher income, asset formation, productivity and output)
  2. Social welfare (such as access to and use of basic services )
  3. Social and cultural upliftment (more appreciation of self and greater assertiveness to those higher placed)
  4. Gender (such as new division of labor, assets and responsibilities between men and women)
  5. Sociopolitical action (such as better organization, empowerment, more political information and independent participation in elections and politics).
The research instrument, a sample survey1 developed with AWARE’s own staff, in other works, rather than setting up external standards, stuck close to AWARE’s own objectives. The research instruments as well as the stratified sample of clusters of independent villages were designed under the guidance of an independent international team of experts bringing together experienced Indian and Dutch researchers.

The sample was stratified in such a way that two sets of companies could be made systematically (1) between the ‘first generation’ and ‘second generation of independent villages, and (2) between harijan, girijan and mixed villages. The first comparison would help examine whether length of AWARE intervention was associated with higher impact, the second whether girijans responded in any different way to AWARE’s program than the harijans. It was expected that unless a learning process had taken place in AWARE allowing it to reach the same or even better results in a shorter period of time, the first generation villages would show higher levels of impact. At the same time, the first generation villages would show higher levels of impact and it was assumed that the girijans having suffered less systematically from caste discrimination might respond better than the harijans especially in the social and political fields. For purposes of controlling unknown intervening factors which also might explain differences found, ‘control villages’ were added systematically, that is, villages where AWARE had never worked.

Trained and newly recruited staff members of AWARE acted as interviewers2;experienced staff under the guidance of AWARE’s own policy, research and evaluation division acted as supervisors. Interview data were checked and subsequently made accessible for computerized database analysis with the help of specially trained staff. Small disciplinary teams then analyzed the data, composing as happened especially in the case of the economic analysis-sets of composite variables, for example, on ‘productivity’, increase in total family income and so on. This exercise, guided by the experienced team of Indian and Dutch researchers helped AWARE’s own

research staff to improve its level of preparation and skills. The latter was one of the objectives of the whole research effort.

AWARE’s Impact3 Specific Results

Economic Results

From the wealth of data on economic results, only the following are mentioned here:
  • Landownership increased from somewhat more than half (57.6%) in the control villages, to most (82.6%) and practically all (95.2%) in respectively, the second and first generation AWARE villages.
  • Those working on more than 2.5 acres of irrigated land increased from 24% to 81.2 and 98.1 %.
  • The percentage of those who produced more than three crops per year, increased from about one tenth only (9.1%) to 27.3 and 34.4%.
  • Average yields per acre grew notably for 10 crops, for example, more than doubled in paddy (from 19.4 bags / acre vs. 36.4 and 45.5 bags respectively) and in jowar (from 2.8 bags / acre vs. 5.7 resp. 6.4).
  • Gross value of output from agriculture increased 2.5, respectively 5 times (from ` 3,500 to ` 11,000 and ` 18,700.)
  • While the least efficient producers (with less than 80% return on inputs) diminished from 34.5% to 15.1% and 3.1% the most efficient farmers (with an input / output ration of (1-5%) increased from 21.8% to 25.4 and 31.3%.
  • While domestic consumption grew, the marketable surplus also increased in most crops, for example, in paddy from 15.5 bags to 36.1 and 69.4 bags respectively, and in jowar from 1.3 bags to 9.2 and 10.3 bags respectively.
  • As a result median net income from farming increased sevenfold from the control villages to second generation AWARE villages (from ` 2500 to ` 15,100) and then again doubled (to ` 32,700) in the case of first generation AWARE villages .
  • The landless yearly income, too, increased, from a median of ` 5300 in the control villages to ` 600 and ` 10,000 in the two generations of AWARE villages; only 8.9% of the landless migrated elsewhere during the off-season.
  • While asset-formation grew (e.g. animals, trees, implements and equipment) in the AWARE villages, income from animals also went up (from ` 600 to ` 1700 and ` 2400), together with median income earned from ‘economic schemes’ organized by government agencies and / or AWARE (from ` 4,700 to ` 6,700 and ` 10,300).
Finally median total annual income per household tripled when we compare the control villages with second generation AWARE villages (from ` 7800 to ` 23,000), that is, after five years intervention, and then this median income once more nearly doubled (to ` 44,590) in the case of the first generation AWARE villages, where AWARE has worked for a full decade.

This can also be put in another way; whereas about one third of all households (31.8%) in the control villages had a total annual income lower than ` 5000, this percentage declined to only 4.9% of the households in the second and to practically none (0.6%) of the households in the first generation AWARE villages; at the other extreme: total annual incomes between `40,000 - `75,000, the corresponding percentages were 0.7, 10.5% and 39.3%.

The Social Field and Basic Needs

  • In the AWARE villages practically no Girijan or Harijan showed any more the traditional modes of submission to the landlord class (bow head, folding dhoti etc) as compared to nearly half of those from the control villages.
  • Though less so in the case of the community hall, grazing land and village teashop, Tribals and Harijans in AWARE villages obtained free access to other community resources and institutions, three fourths knew, and 42.3% used, official reservations for Girijans and Harijans, as most Tribals do to forest resources.
  • Thanks largely to AWARE’s support and special campaigns the incidence of illegal bonded labour, still present in about one third (34.4%) of the control villages, went down to 8.5% in second and 0.0% in first generation AWARE villages.
  • The Girijans and Harijans in the villages where AWARE had worked reported greatly improved inter-ethnic relationships, both between themselves and various tribes and sub castes.
  • Whereas about one half (47.7%) of all households in the control villages consumed only one meal per day, this percentage went down to 1.3 and 0.6% in the case of households in second and first generation AWARE villages, similarly, the percentages of households enjoying three meals per day rose sharply, from 9.4% to74.3% and 98.7%.
  • In sets of clothing the same pattern applies: while the percentages of households owning only one set per household - member went down from 25.2% to 1.6 and 0/.6%, the corresponding percentages of households owning three sets were 6.0% 68.7% and 84.5%.
  • In housing, the proportion of those without a house decline from 19.2% of the control villages households, to practically none (1.9% resp. 0.0%) of those in the AWARE villages: besides pucca/concrete houses increased from 6.6% to 39.2% and 49.4%, along with houses with latrines (0.7% vs. 11.1 and 39.3%), even more so houses with bathrooms (2.0% vs. 57.9 and 92.8%) and getting drinking water from wells (43.0% vs. 68.7 and 71.4%) instead of, for example, tanks (37.7% vs. 6.1 and 0.0%).
  • While Girijans and Harijans in the AWARE villages increasingly (from 40 to 80%) applied such hygienic measures like washing their hands, ease of access to medical services also increase, less so in the case of midwives (52.3% vs. 46.6 and 63.7%), but more in that of a local health worker (30.5% vs. 80.5 and 85.7%), medicine (0.0% vs. 13.1 and 38.7%) and access to nearby hospitals (17.2% vs21.8 and 52.4%).
  • Illiteracy declined from 90.8% among heads of households in the control villages, to 59.8% and 64.9% among those from second and first generation AWARE villages here AWARE’s impact is notable but less impressive.
  • While the possession of consumptive assets like a radio is still rare (8.3%) in households of the control villages, it sharply increased to two-thirds of those in second and three-fourths of those in first generation AWARE villages.

In the field of women, too, AWARE has been quite active and developed special women programs especially since 1987/88, too late for the first generation as by that time. AWARE’s cycle of intervention had already ended in their case, but still within the time frame of the second generation, the main results were:

  • In terms of education, illiteracy of all women declined from 82% in the control villages to 46% on average in the AWARE villages, practically all women attended one or more training camps.
  • Women’s access, control and benefits of resources and services increased, but more in the direction of a sharing relationship than in that of a ‘women only’ position, male domination remained relatively stronger in the case of ‘harder’ areas related to production (land, crops) than in ‘softer’ areas related to services (housing, health, education).
  • Decision-making shows a similar tendency: towards a joint process (21% vs. 87 % and 88%) but when it comes to problem-solving reliance on the husband diminishes (from 38.4% in the control villages to 4.1% and 2.4% in second and first generation households respectively ), while more women begin to ‘act on their own’ (2% vs. 19.7 and 30.4%) and / or solve their problems ‘together with other women’ (27.2% vs. 31.6 and 43.8%) in sharing workloads in the house too, there is an evident increase.
  • Women are addressed more respectfully by people from their own community and in the village in general, practically all of the great majority belong and actively participate in their own organization, the Mahila Mandali, and in the Village Association of Girijans and / or Harijans, attend mass events of AWARE like Mahasabhas and Women Conventions, while their adherence to the ‘women’s brigade’ the Chaitanya Shakti, increases over time. Most women evaluate the effectiveness of the Mahila Mandali quite positively: the women’s agendas for the meetings of these various organizations cover both broader issues of their family and the community, and gender issue, the latter especially where Women Conventions are concerned.
  • More than two thirds (69%) of the women from AWARE villages have developed relationships with government agencies, and whereas women from control villages rarely go by themselves (2% only), 19.7% and 30.4% of the women from second and first generation AWARE villages do so, the latter also go less accompanied by their husband, and more often ‘together with other women’. It is interesting, in this connection, that the women from AWARE villages are also considerably less fearful with regard to powerful agents like officials, landlords and politicians.
  • Concerning future prospects of her gender, the women from AWARE villages report a high incidence of daughters actually attending schools, they show a capability to break down stereotyped gender roles when it comes to defining career aspirations for their daughters, and they foresee an improvement in their daughter’s life as compared with that of themselves, their mothers.
  • Finally, in the AWARE villages women side with AWARE as protagonists of the struggle against alcoholism: practically all women in the AWARE villages consider alcoholism as harmful, and whereas none of the control villages were reported as being 100% free of alcohol-indeed, 80.1% were identified as villages where more than half the families were drinking – women from the AWARE villages reported that about three-fourth (74.6%) of the second generation and the great majority (88.1%) of the first generation villages were alcohol free: that alcoholism is hard to eradicate, however, appears from the fact that 15.1% of the women from second generation villages indicated that still more than half the households were drinking.
  • Even though in various instances women’s progress remains limited and sometimes lags behind that of men, undeniable and considerable progress has been made by the women in the AWARE villages as compared to the women in the control villages.
Effects in the Socio- Political Field

In the field of organization and empowerment:
  • Practically all households in the ‘independent’ AWARE villages belong to their own apex-organization, know the name of the highest-level leader, attend meetings regularly and (re)elect leaders largely on the basis of the effectiveness of their performance
  • Whereas practically none (2.7%) of the households of the control villages possess knowledge of legislation quite relevant to their rights and condition (on land, minimum wage, bonded labour etc), 80 % to 92% of the Girijan and Harijan households in the AWARE villages, do have that knowledge; moreover, actual legal assistance, hardly available in control villages, is provided in the majority (86.0%) of the AWARE villages, and is being utilized in claims on land, in freeing bonded labourers etc.
In the socio-political field:

  • The need for an alliance between Girijans and Harijans finds support on the whole, even though the Girijans in particular make a quite realistic assessment of the differences between both communities; opinions with other backward castes and classes are divided, showing a sense of caution and common sense.
  • Practically all participated in one of more of AWARE’s mass events which are more ‘developmental’ in nature : they have a mobilizing and unifying purpose, help set agenda’s for the movement, identify opposition etc; with regard to voting. Practically all voted and 9.1% of the heads of household even reported ever having stood as a candidate, - data to be further analyzed in the long-term study. Important, too, is that the traditional influence of the landlords in local elections (influencing up to 80% of the households in the control villages) fully eclipsed in the AWARE villages, where, besides, the Girijans and Harijans no longer distrust candidates from their own communities as stooges manipulated by the elite; now they have come to see them as trustworthy representatives.
The Beneficiaries’ own Assessment of AWARE’s Impact and Future

The Girijans and Harijans specified, at the end of the interview, the areas of their lives where AWARE has had an impact. Economic, political and social changes, including moral and psychological transformation, have been referred to bringing out the recognition of what AWARE’s work has meant for them, their families and communities.

Significantly about half locate the period when these changes occurred during AWARE’s immediate presence, but about one fifth pointed towards the period after AWARE had already left; this means that the process of change was sustained after AWARE ‘withdraw’ and it had shifted towards a more distant modality of support.

Two thirds of the second generation and about half (48.8%) of the first generation village households expect support from AWARE in future, whereby the former think especially of ‘moral’ support, the latter of ‘technical’ support.

AWARE’s Impact: An Overall Assessment

Economic, Social, Gender and Socio-Political Impact

First of all, some general conclusions in ‘sectoral’ terms. The data of the sample survey bring out in a clear and consistent manner the considerable and often impressive impact of AWARE’s work with the Girijans and Harijans of Andhra Pradesh.

These target groups have succeeded in strengthening their economic base, including ownership of cultivable and irrigated land, significant increase in production and productivity, levels of capitalization and production of marketable surpluses, resulting in notably higher incomes from farming; besides, thanks to the diversification of their sources of income over and beyond farming, and the accumulation of assets, their overall condition in terms of employment and income has strongly improved.

Socially the status of these long discriminated and exploited in the village community and powerful public and private actors like landlords and officials has undergone a major change, freeing them from fear and enhancing their claims to more recognition and egalitarian relationships; besides, the level of basic needs satisfaction has significantly risen.

Girijan and Harijan women, too, have moved notably forward in various areas: basic needs, partnership with their husbands in the house, empowerment and status in the community and beyond, and in the awareness of gender issues and need for action. Clearly, the women’s own organization has played a strategic role in this process of emancipation.

Politically the Harijans and Tribals have organized themselves, in bottom-up fashion, from their own local autonomous associations all the way to an apex organization, which spans the whole working area of AWARE, with a result-oriented and accountable leadership.

Consciousness and the actual use of legal rights, procedures and services, as well as the independent reliance on voting for candidates they trust in local and regional elections, has shored up the autonomous power base in these two ethnic communities.

Length of Intervention Cycle: Differentiation by Sectors

In the various chapters of the study—the economic, social and socio-political chapters in particular—the analysis of the impact achieved; the systematic subsequent analysis will help show on more detail what particular parts of AWARE’s program, and what target groups are more ‘sensitive’ to this important factor because, as we have seen, on several counts the major occurred already after five years, on others only after a more lengthy intervention.

At this stage, only tentative observations can be made at a very general level. It would seem that on the whole, economic programs take more time to consolidate itself than the social and political programs. In the case of the later, as we saw, major progress was already made after five years and during the subsequent stage the rate of progress often diminished, even though, it is true, in the economic field, however, major differences continued to emerge between the more advanced first and the less advanced second generation villages.

One may probably account for such differences by referring to the complexity of the challenges involved in economic development at the individual level : the development of human resources through training, education and practices, the formation of entrepreneurial skills in dealing with new crop technologies, prices and markets, the learning process in handling credit, applying for technical assistance managing relationships with state agencies and the gradual accumulation of capital, new assets and skills which form the base for subsequent ventures.

Collective organized action and empowerment, based on a new ideology and a more positive view of self and the world, seem easier to achieve, by comparison; role models, an apex organization and a continuously full and expanding agenda probably help accelerate and sustain this sociopolitical process. Something similar seems to happen in the case of providing for basic needs, which also proceeded more rapidly than the economic program. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that such differential rates of development exist and should be taken into account in future.

Ethnic Communities: A Differential Impact and Response

What has been concluded, so far, applies to both Girijans and Harijans. Both ethnic communities have gained considerably from their association with AWARE and its programs. Yet certain differential rates of impact were found in quite a few instances, and often still in need of further careful analysis. In general, however, it would seem that the initial different resource-base and position of these two communities, as set out briefly in the introductory section of this report, has left its imprint on their subsequent respective patterns of development.

Generalizing at the risk of simplification, one might suggest that the Girijans seem to have responded more and more rapidly in the social and political fields, the Harijans more and more rapidly in the economic area. The Harijans starting from a less favorable base than the Girijans with less access to land and water, have made significant progress in ownership of land, in irrigation, in shifts towards commercial crops and in asset-accumulation, arriving at a notably higher level of total income than the Girijans . The Girijans seem to follow a more gradual route, for example, combining traditional and modern technology and crops longer than the Harijans, applying modern crop-technologies less intensively and being less market-oriented.

In the social and political arena, however, the Girijans seem to face fewer obstacles than Harijans in freeing themselves from fear for, and bonds with, local elites and officials and in adopting a more assertive and autonomous role in the local community and beyond.

On the other hand, as noted earlier, the Girijans when taking the lead—as they have often done according to reports from AWARE provoked a response from the Harijans, so in a sense the combination of the ‘mixed’ villages in particular, which in this short-term study have not yet been analyzed systematically: that is left for the longer term study.

Nevertheless, one can argue that the first generation AWARE villages consisting exclusively of such ethnically ‘mixed’ villages, and their high and often impressive rate of progress, may be seen as a result of the interaction and combination of various factors, via AWARE’s longer intervention in their case, the special dynamics of ‘mixed’ villages in the sense just alluded to, and probably some particular characteristics of the Lambadi tribe living in these mixed villages. As the characteristics of any one tribe are concerned, in the long-term study these will be taken up for closer analysis.

Beneficiaries of AWARE’s Program - Differential Benefits

Apart from ethnicity there are other bases of differentiation among AWARE’s target groups, for example, gender and land-tenure. Previous evaluations suggested that AWARE’s program tended to favor those who had some land, and to favor males. Since those evaluations, AWARE has taken special measures to try to equalize access and benefits more. The data from the survey are therefore of special interest. In general, they tend to qualify and in a sense still support earlier observations.

The data in the gender chapter has time and again, shown the benefits which AWARE’s program has generated for Harijan and Girijan households including the women, but for women in particular: her status and power in the family, in her own community and in the wider village and regional environment. Stereotyped gender relations and models have been broken down; amongst others owing to the impact of the women’s own organization, the Mahila Mandali, which makes its presence felt even inside the family.

Yet this undeniable progress visible especially when contrasted with the women’s position in the control villages still lags behind that of the male beneficiaries of AWARE, for example, in access to education; as Dr. Neera K Sohoni suggests on the basis of the sex ratio among the AWARE population, probably also in matters related to health and welfare; in relation to control over especially productive resources etc. So, despite considerable progress, there remains room for extra attention for women.

Similarly, in the economic chapter we have seen the often-impressive progress made, thanks to AWARE’s intervention, it helped in reducing landlessness from about one-half to about one-fifth of all households. Besides, landless households have drawn benefits from economic schemes, reduced migration during off-season and increased their income notably. Nevertheless, the latter remains notably behind that of the small farmers in terms of their income, for example, being less than half of what those who own land get from farming (` 7100 vs. ` 16,200)and may be this is unavoidable, because so many program benefits accrue to the latter.

True, the rate of landlessness in the case of the first generation had declined to 4% only, so that a further reduction might still be expected in the coming years among landless households of the second generation of independent villages. But whether this will happen without AWARE’s active intervention remains to be seen; anyway, the acquisition of land appears to be a matter of time. So here, too, there is room of extra efforts to reduce differentiation and help landless households to increase their income further, be it through land-acquisition or via other means.

Meaning and Sustainability of AWARE’s Achievements

This is the moment to briefly dwell on the meaning and on some implications of what AWARE is achieving, from an overall perspective it may be concluded that AWARE’s objective to integrate the systematically marginalized ethnic communities: the Girijans and Harijans, into India’s rural economy and society, and into its polity, is succeeding.

Given also the scale at which this happens, involving 1500 ‘independent’ villages—with around 1,30,000 households or some 7,80,000 individuals—AWARE’s achievement is by all means significant. Both factors: integration and scale, reinforce one another, as integration on such a scale entails impact on wider society: whereas most NGDOs are limited in scope, however successful they may be on other counts, AWARE’s broadly based strategy implies a thrust towards a more egalitarian and democratic society in a wider sense.

The joined developmental and social movement are the twin elements in AWARE’s approach, and the impact it achieves, also imply that those observers who argue in favor of the latter only and who consider developmental program—especially of an economic kind as associated with the risk of ‘embourgeoisement’, may have to revise their view: instead of weakening both elements from economic and social to also include political participation and a fuller use of rights, which in turn enable further progress on the economic front.

When it comes to the sustainability of this process, it should be recalled, all that has been summarized so far, refers to so-called ‘independent’ villages, that is, villages in which AWARE no longer directly applies its intervention cycle and from which it has ‘withdrawn’, even though from a distance it continues to provide advice and some resources. As the data show, these ‘independent’ villages and organizations carryon on their own, and it is they who continue the ‘developmental’ and ‘social movement’ effectively, in a process that has not yet lost its momentum and come to an end.

Besides, AWARE and its organized beneficiaries explicitly capitalize the opportunities and space which India’s government has attempted to create for the emancipation of ethnic minorities and depressed castes and classes. By furthering the connection between its target groups and the state, and in particular the access of the former to the program of the latter, AWARE ‘helps the government to do its job’, organizes the beneficiaries, stimulates their claim making power and thus enables government agencies to focalize their programs without leakage to other less-deserving sectors. In this sense, too, AWARE promotes the integration of its two favored target groups, and at the same time has laid the basis for the sustainability of the ongoing progress of these groups.

An analogous integrating effect is produced to the extent that the organized Harijans and Tribals become a politically interesting, articulate and attractive actor, both feared and sought by political parties. The data from the leadership questionnaires to be used for the long-term study will allow us to make an analysis in greater depth of these aspects. But it is already known that candidates from or of the Girijans and Harijans have won more than 30 seats in Panchayat and mandal elections often in non-reserved seats and including leading positions; indeed, there are some in the state’s assembly at Hyderabad and even two in the central assembly in Delhi. So far, the apex organization of Tribals and Harijans have managed to sustain themselves and retain their autonomy through established parties, quite a few candidates stood as ‘independents’. So there is some hope that they will be able to continue that way, using the votes they (together with allies) can deliver it as a tool for bargaining, with regard to people, issues and concrete resources of importance to their bases and here again scale is a crucial asset.

At this stage, the sustainability of what has been achieved so far seems less of a cause for preoccupation, however, than what is needed to tackle in the future: the demands of AWARE’s autonomies target groups grow along with the successful termination of an earlier stage. Then ‘poverty alleviation’ or ‘survival strategy’ programs targeted at specified categories may no longer be sufficient. AWARE’s target groups may have ‘outgrown’ such programs and now qualify for ‘growth-oriented strategies’ and government programs which are less targeted to particular communities but open and more competitive.

AWARE, on its part, is not just thinking in repeating (a probably revised version of) the intervention cycle whose impact we have just studied this also, including in the state of Orissa but also in tooling up for a subsequent stage of development to be carried out together with already ‘independent’ villages. In the long-term study, we hope to discuss this additional stage and its linkage with the previous one in a more systematic manner.