:: GRAUS (Gram Unnayon Sangathon) Organization for Rural Socio-economic Development
     
 
 

Experience and Achievements

 

Since 1998 GRAUS has been engaged in dedicated service to the local community, working for the poverty alleviation of the underprivileged section of the people. During the last fifteen years GRAUS have undertaken some development projects with good results in the fields of community development, health-care, children’s rights to CE, economic development activities, awareness and capacity building (for vulnerable women), homestead food production, hygiene, water and sanitation, etc. in partnering with World Food Programme, BRAC, CARE, UNICEF, UNDP-CHTDF, DANIDA, Manusher Jonno Foundation, NGO Forum for Public Health, Helen Keller International, Concern Universal, Department of Women’s Affairs and Bandarban Hill District Council (BHDC).

Community Empowerment & Economic Development:  From 2004 to 2013, GRAUS worked successfully in partnership with UNDP-CHTDF in Bandarban Sadar, Alikadam and Ruma Upazillas of Bandarban Hill District covering 496 Para Development Committees (PDCs).  The main goal of the project is community empowerment through economic self-reliance.  The aim of the programme is to empower the CHT communities in dealing their own development affairs and to improve the socio-economic well being of the community.  The core of the development vision and strategy for the CHT is the small-scale self-reliant development at community level.  It is aimed at enabling the people take charge of their development initiatives.  Mobilisation of the community people towards a pro-active development role, which leads them towards taking up responsibilities, and roles in the development process is the main theme of the project.  Under the project a catalytic Quick Impact Fund was provided by UNDP-CHTDF, which was channelled through the community empowerment programme of GRAUS to PDCs.  With components that included community managed resource generation, the project has already brought positive benefits to the beneficiary communities, who after a number of income generation and capacity building trainings have learnt community resource management skills including basic accounts keeping, market management, establishing links with GoB line departments and NGO sectors, etc.  GRAUS mobilized traditional leaders, local government institutions and GoB line departments for helping out communities with their relevant services, which helped strengthen the local administration, too. 

Under the project the PDCs received trainings to make project proposals with active participation of the community and with a consideration of available local resources and indigenous knowledge.  The small-scale projects include agriculture, fruit orchards, fish culture, poultry and livestock rearing, power tiller and autorickshaw rental, rice mills, paddy thrasher, engine boat and waist loom.  Under the project community centres and small roads were constructed that served speeding up economic activities – indirectly towards overall development of the villages.  Likewise water supply and sanitation coverage have also been made that indirectly contribute to the physical and economic well-being of the community.  Community contribution of 10 to 20 percent is ensured for each of the above-mentioned projects.  GRAUS in the process ensured that the government line departments provide relevant technical supports to PDCs. 

Under the 496 PDCs covered by GRAUS in the CEP project, 283 Para Nari Development Groups (PNDG) were set up who under the PDCs have taken up projects for economic development of the women.  GRAUS have facilitated them prepare project proposals and implement them accordingly.  As a result the village women have become empowered and can take charge of their own projects by choosing and implementing their development projects.

Side by side GRAUS have facilitated in setting up 120 rice banks in food insecure remote areas which are in good operation even today.  The PDCs give rice as loan to especially marginal farmers including slash and burn cultivators who suffer very much during the monsoons and face food scarcity.  The rice so loaned is returned when harvest is done from the slash and burn field or whenever the receiver can pay it back.   

GRAUS trained PDCs and Para Nari Development Groups (PNDGs) on their roles and responsibilities, management and facilitating in developing Para development plans so that the community development process remains on track and economic self-reliance of remote communities are ensured.  We also facilitated trainings on leadership, conducted monthly awareness sessions, and facilitated PDC and PNDG monthly meetings.  We have also facilitated training sessions with GoB line departments for the projects taken up by PDCs and PNDGs. 

Training on Gender issues were conducted at PDCs and PNDGs level for sensitizing gender issues that helped remove many social ills including domestic violence, underage marriage, etc. besides ensuring women participation and taking up leading roles in the society. 

Trainings on financial management and basic bookkeeping were organized at PDC and PNDG levels.  We also facilitated in developing PDC rules (code of conduct, profit sharing rules, capital utilization rules, project management guidelines, etc.).

Other training components included Training on Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation to Communities, Training on Women Leadership, and Training on Consensus Building.

We also organized bimonthly Upazila support team meetings at Upazilla level to ensure training components for the relative income generation projects taken up by PDCs and PNDGs.  At union facilitation committee Union level coordination committee, monthly meetings were held to select appropriate projects, work out solutions to problems faced by ongoing projects of PDCs, and also ensure smooth and accurate monitoring at union levels, and successful implementation.  For smooth field level monitoring and ensuring technical support the UZST teams were also been included in monitoring visits. 

GRAUS also facilitated Day observations for community awareness on indigenous people’s day, international literacy day, national victory day, etc. and arranged exchange visits for community and other stakeholders inside the CHTs so that they have imported many successful ideas for implementation at their PDC levels. 

We also organized Information dissemination workshops between service providers and recipients at union and Upazilla levels so that the PDCs get the knowledge of the resources as well as networking with GO, local government and NGO sectors. 
 
In The Economic Development Activities project we facilitated follow-up visit to households of old trained members for beekeeping, mushroom, medicinal plant, ginger and ensure technical support wherever necessary.  Follow-up supports to the trained entrepreneurs were also given through Business Initiative Visit, Business Review Workshop and Marketing Linkage workshops. We facilitated  agro-marketing groups and formed mushroom growers associations besides conducting a yearly agro-fair where all the agricultural produce from the PDCs were put for exhibition and the government line department officials came for sharing ideas and suggestions. 

The overall aim of the project was integrated with the GRAUS vision of holistic development approach, by establishing GoB linkages more and more with the communities served for a successful sustainable development strategy to take shape.

 
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