IR6 – Orthi, Participatory Rural Appraisal

14th November 2013

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Participatory Rural Appraisal

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) Committee is integral to India Romeo 6s’ (IR6) ICS project in Orthi, the exercises we have been trained in by MYRADA have provided a way to integrate with the villagers and obtain information from them: The main function to gather information about the village and its history, as well as individual stories and livelihoods.

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Since arriving in Orthi, IR6 has undertaken PRA exercises with the local community in Seasonality, Timeline, Household Surveys, and Social Mapping. Each exercise influential in informing the direction of the future projects within construction, Self Health Groups, and Health and Vet camps. For example seasonality exercise was conducted at our first village meeting on the 8th October, where approximately 30 village members attended.  We used a ready-made grid, and got the village to discuss different areas, and use a five stone system. Five stones represented a high occurrence in one particular month, and one stone represented a very low occurrence.  Leaving a square blank meant that there was no occurrence at all. The findings indicated to us that income in the village was highest during the early part of the year when crops were harvested, rainfall was heaviest during the months of July, August and October which also coincided with an increase in Animal diseases. Namely, ‘Leg and Mouth fever’; translating as infections in the hoofs from flies laying their eggs and maggots forming causing lameness which impacted on both breeding and ability to work the land. Through Household surveys we found leg and mouth fever to be widespread through the village and resultantly prioritized a Vet Camp through the help of MYRADA which took place on 9th November, at which time all 31 households within the village were visited by the vet and IR6 volunteers, and treated as necessary. 

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From the surveys we established that the majority of our villagers are agriculturists or casual laborers’ (cooli).  There are 166 people in the village, with 51 children.  The villagers own approximately 96 acres of farmland between them, the majority of individual families owning 3 acres each.  Over 90% of this land is non-irrigated, which puts many of the land owners at a disadvantage.  Other farming problems they highlighted were a lack of market knowledge, lack of credit facilities, and wild animal attacks.  The villagers had an average attitude towards health and sanitation; a noticeable problem was lack of footwear and not washing hands after defecation or before eating – something that our awareness raising committee are keen to pick up on and plan some educational workshops.

To inform our specific project further we added questions relevant to health and sanitation, and established that there was a positive attitude towards the community toilets, with over 80% of those asked expressing an interest in them being built with ideas for their location.  We also found out that over half of the households did not have toothbrushes and paste for their families, and received positive feedback on the idea of English lessons, including signature teaching, and First Aid training.  From these additional questions we subsequently set up Children’s Toothbrush Club, Daily English lessons at the local school, Toilet Awareness workshops and household adult signature sessions which we are continuing to run today with regular attendance.

Interestingly from undertaking the PRA Timeline exercise IR6 found out that the number of houses and families had increased from 25 families in hut houses 30 years ago, to 10 concrete roofed, 55 tiled, and 9 hut houses present day.  The main crops cultivated are popcorn, ragi with a few farmers growing potato, beans and carrot.  The school and community hall was built in 1993, and a bus stop installed 1km away in 1998.  During a successfully organised Social Mapping exercise, 25% of the total village attended. We informed all the villagers about this exercise one day before, selected a place (opposite the Community hall), arranged chai tea and biscuits, lay carpet and mats down for villagers to sit on and invited them to participate in the exercise using large chart paper and felt tip pens.  Village members drew various components and resources of the village and gave symbols to each one: for example water tank, water tap, street light, agricultural land, forest, Primary School, Community Hall, solar lamp post etc. The final result was a simplified drawing made by the villagers of the whole of Orthi, a map that we will later paint to the Villages Community Hall to display for locals and villagers the infrastructure of Orthi.

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Overall, Participatory Rural Appraisal was undertaken in Orthi reaching all 31 houses and occupants, and exercises delivered via village meetings to over 100 individuals across Phase 1. A massive success and credit to the hard work and organisation of India Romeo 6.