The ongoing Projects deals with Community Capacitation and Women’s Empowerment, Livelihood support for food security and Income Generation through Women’s SHGs. Management of Natural Resources and conflict intervention related to land and resources. The Program Team is divided into five thematic groups based on the different areas of interventions:
Tribal system of oral tradition of governance in the village though democratic, is headed by the hereditary Headman, the system lags transparency, awareness, skills, gender balance in composition and is corrupted by state party politics and its welfare schemes. This necessitated the project intervention to organize the community at three levels viz; Self Help groups (SHGs) at Group level, Village Development Committee (VDC) at village level and area Development Coordination Committee (ADCC) at are level. Capacitation of these organized groups in terms of awareness on issues concerning their lives and skill in terms of analyzing their own situation and planning relevant development programs are facilitated by the project. Composition of VDC and ADCC ensures gender balance to influence the gender bias mindset of the community and VDC represented from all the traditional institutions of the village is intended to ensure transparency in the system of village administration to reduce conflict within.
A profile of each village is developed in a process of participatory Rural Appraisal and based on the facts and figures of which analysis of local situation is facilitated by the project and relevant development program is planned. The profile is updated every year for a comparative study of change. This intervention is to strengthen the democratic system of village governance headed by the Headman now adopted by even non project neighbouring villages.
Livelihood Promotion in terms of people’s income, family food security through land development and promotion of orchards for sustainable land use in areas practicing shifting cultivation.
The organization has to its credit the introduction of Burmese loom in the district to protect the only surviving traditional skill which became so popular and has contributed in reducing migration of young girls to cities in search of work. In agriculture, apart from land development for enhancing food security, we have accomplished breaking through the psychological resistance of farmers in one block (Phungyar) for changing practice of cultivation from shifting to permanent, thereby saving the forest. As an alternative, we have also enhanced land use to 10-15 years by introducing orchard, the project has also have helped farmers to increase their sources of income by introducing new crops like sugar cane, Avocado and many others found suitable in particular areas. Skill trainings are given to young entrepreneurs in food processing, solar technology and making washing powder and dish was etc.
For promotion of weaving industry in the district an Association of Weavers known as HAOFIA was started with meager support of credit which has now become what is known as Credit Union, the management of which is now entirely transferred to the people.
Natural Resource Management:
For the past 33 years VVD has been working to raise awareness among rural people on the vulnerable ecological balance and atmospheric stability, have encouraged community tree plantation, conservation of forest and wild lives. As a result we have conservation areas declared in all our partner village which is being adopted by neighbouring villages. We have supported other forums- students, church and other civil society organizations taking similar initiatives on the issue.
This intervention also focus on regulative measures to prevent burning of forest, poisoning of rivers for fishing, preventing hunting, fishing and felling trees during breeding season, regulate consumption of firewood per family for domestic energy requirements.
VVD has always been sensitive to the issue of Gender equity, both in the organizational structure and its intervention as well, women’s economic empowerment through SHGs created a positive impact on their status and relationship in the family while our efforts at grass root level has also been to change the gender bias mindset by involving them in project related institutions and influencing acceptance of women’s participation in all traditional institutions, the absence of which means our women have no political citizenship in the village, our efforts on women’s empowerment also includes lobbying with strategic individuals and organizations to bring a change in the custom which is a living culture that may change with the changing environment.
The state of Manipur has experienced bitter ethnic violence in recent times, the major being the animosity between the Kukis and Nagas and the Paites and Kukis, both stemming from xenophobic insecurity.
VVD began its peace initiative during the climax of tension and violence between two particular ethnic groups Kukis and Nagas in Manipur. It was “Kill at sight” situation when people would say there is no news in the daily newspapers unless there was news of killing, burning of houses and displacement of villages. It was ethnic war supported by armed groups on both sides. The media played a havoc in arousing communal emotions and spreading violence like wild fire. Whoever talked peace was a coward. Even Reverends talked hatred and vengeance. Human right activists were bound by narrow ethnic nationalism and loyalty to their own ethnic group. Politicians made use of the communal emotions for their personal political gains thus making it difficult to bring peace. Behind every effort of the Govt. to bring peace there was violence and the opposition tried to capitalize the bad situation of law and order to destabilize the Govt. It was in such a situation that Capt. A.Y. Tipnis, (Rtd.) as ProgrammeOrganiser of VVD led a task force to Imphal and took the opportunity of building alliance with CRN (Committee for Restoration of Normalcy) formed of United Naga Council (UNC) and the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM). Through CRN volunteers from both sides Kukis and Nagas were called for a workshop on conflict resolution facilitated by the THREAD of Orissa, our initiative thus came to be known as “Fraternal Green Cross” signifying brotherhood, progress, humility and sacrifice.
Our immediate action was to reduce the sufferings of those displaced from home and means of livelihood with the belief that such humanitarian action would strengthen the bond of brotherhood.
Relief materials like rice, cooking vessels, blankets and tarpaulins were distributed. This was accompanied by peace meetings, procession and peace workshops advocating for peaceful co-existence by influencing the church and other people’s organizations. Thus the first phase of our initiative came to an end by December 1995.
However, the project continued supported by EED and ICCO through its parent body VVD at Ukhrul and in between we received small support from CAPART, Guwahati, for livestock keeping project. Our efforts for peace initiative were strengthened when in 1999 ActionAid came in to support us for 10 years.
Another challenge before us was to change their attitude of mutual hatred and vengeance and bring reconciliation, we used cultural programmes, we used sports, we used residential trainings, we use project related meetings, we used church for breaking the ice and bring reconciliation in sensitive areas.
Encouraged by people’s response we formed area peace committee in sensitive areas to build local capacity for peace which succeeded in resolving local issues on many occasions. We felt the need to strengthen local capacity for peace by training peace cadres in the affected areas. There can be no peace in the minds of people unless they can earn livelihood with dignity. Vocational trainings like bag making, wood crafts, tailoring, weaving and embroidery etc. were opened for them.
Volunteers for Village Development (VVD) after 25 years of Community Development intervention in general program started Micro Finance under the banner “Women Talent Search Credit Program” in the year 2007 as one o f its major thematic program Today Micro Finance Program is operating in four districts primarily in rural and semi urban areas. The program aims in addressing with the prevailing various socio-economy issues like rural poverty, Indebtedness, unemployment, lack of skill development and lack of accessibility to formal financial institutions. Like in the case of Ukhrul District, Manipur since independence, UBI is the lone bank operating for many decades whereby the common people have been neglected in providing credits service if not many, few may have access credit facilities to Govt. employees and big business men only. Recently in March 2011, one SBI Branch has been opened inside the Army Camp at Somsai, out skirt of Ukhrul town, missing the conveniences in transactions and accessibility. These two banks are serving to the ratio of 9,15,62 population. To satiate the credit needs of the people in larger perspective Micro Finance team is striving continuously to deliver meaningful and effective service. VVD Microfinance program is operating in partnership with Ananya Inclusive for Financial Growth, Private Ltd. Ahmedabad, Friends of Women’s World Banking (FWWB) India, Basix (IGS), Thrive Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Hyderabad, NEDFI and Cordaid, Netherlands.
In the absence of Institutional credit service in the district VVD initiated interest free micro credit service for income generation activities in the district which later culminated into formation of women’s SHGs which created an impact across the district in terms of reducing interest rate of private money lenders and reduced land alienation by money lenders. A culture of family saving was initiated through the women’s SHG and this has been picked up by many other Groups across the district
In view of the absence of credit services in the district the organization has now institutionalized Microfinance and has registered under Trust Act for legal identity. This organization apart from providing credit services to the rural poor, has also introduced solar technology for lighting in view of the power supply deficiency in the state, the distribution of which has reached even the remotest of villages.