Ammachi labs

The Women Empowerment: Community Sanitation through Democratic Participation was launched in February 2017. It is a two year, pan-India initiative jointly funded with the United Nations Democracy Fund. It aims to address the issues of inadequate community sanitation, women’s health, and water management in rural India through improving democratic representation of women in community leadership and local governance. The project targets one village in 21 states in India, and aims to empower at least 5,000 women in rural Indian communities to champion sanitation and community development, eventually reaching their entire village, or 30,000 indirect beneficiaries.

The Capstone Event for the WE:CSDP Project took place on December 19, 2018 at the International Colloquium for Women’s Empowerment, Vulnerability Mapping and Community-led Sanitation at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kerala. Over 90 women sanitation “Champions of Change” attended the landmark event and participated.

The Overall Developmental Goal is Womens Empowerment and Improvement of Sanitation, through Advancing Women's Political Participation, Leadership, Economic and Social Development.

Participating women will receive continuous life skill training, will conduct sanitation campaigns, and will organize and mobilize efforts to implement key community actions to access government programs, such as the Swachh Bharat Mission, that specifically promotes sanitation. This community mobilization and training effort is designed to efficiently reach entire communities in a short amount of time. It will also provide strength and support to the women advocating and petitioning to their local governments to address social and environmental issues in their villages. It is in line with the Government of India’s commitment to improving sanitation and rural development, as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Outcomes of the WE:CSDP Project

Challenges Addressed by the Project

Outcome One : Women's Personal Capacity and Development

Since the launch of the project in February of 2017, we have accomplished a number of objectives. After setting up centers in each of the villages and selecting Community Organizers (COs), we held a Train the Trainer event at the university headquarters in Amritapuri where women from all over India got the chance to learn about their role in the project, and get to know each other and share their incredible stories. Since then, the CO’s have engaged over 20 SHGs, held dozens of Community Awareness Events, and have started to meet with local government, becoming real community leaders. The COs and SHGs have launched their community sanitation campaign and have begun a process of social change. As these women continue to empower themselves and others, we hope to see a chain reaction that will lead to stronger, more resilient communities where women are able to lead the way to sustainable development.

The WE:CSDP project is off to an exciting start, and already so much has been accomplished. Our next steps are to continue the progress made on ASHG formation and structuring, continuing the c-LEE classrooms, and increasing the amount of community involvement by the women’s groups. Our focus will be on assisting the groups to meet with local government and hold discussions on the community problems they have identified with the goal to encourage government support. Water testing, clean-up drives, and other community assessments will continue and provide supporting evidence the ASHGs can use in their government meetings.

Outcome Two : Community Empowerment

The COS and ASHGS have Initiated Sanitation Awareness Campaigns, and are Starting to Champion Other Causes Like Educating Girls, and Fighting Alcohol Abuse.

Outputs for Outcome : 2 Increased Women's Collective Capabilities in Sanitation and Social Development
Output 2.1 Ideal Village Activity & Vulnerability Mapping 18 completed
Output 2.2 Community-Led ODf Campaign Initiatives Mobilizing 5000 women as change Agents Over 1400 names collected from the 21 villages
Output 2.3

168 Life Skills Community Events by ASHGs (8 per Village)

238 LEE Events (9584 Participants), Hygiene, Women Health and Legal Awareness including 40 Clean up Drive-by Women's in SHGs
Output 2.4 21 Advocacy Self-Help Groups formed by 300 Women Championships(min one group per target village) 13 ASHG 141 Women Participants

The Project is Furthering the Goal of Social Democratic Participation of Women

Women in Odisha lead a community cleaning. Through this project women are discovering & developing leadership skills.

Outcome 3 : Women Social Democratic Participation

Outputs for Outcome : 3 Increased Women's Participation and Stronger Voice in Sanitation Policy Making and Community Action
Output 3.1 Water Quality Management and Monitoring by 21 ASHGs Water testing completed in 10 villages and results reported to the local government. This has prompted cloean water initiatives in many places.
Output 3.2 Two Government ASHG Meeting (1 per Milestone) 45 documented meeting initiated by the women in SHGs trained by us, with the local government  to promote village sanitation and to secure scheme benefits.
Output 3.3

National Development Workshop for ASHGs

Scheduled for spring 2018
Output 2.4 ASHGs Community Action Proposal to Policy Brief on Policy Recommendations

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation is an integral part of this project. From November 16 to 21, representatives from the United Nations Development Program (head of UN operations in India, and on the behalf of the UNDEF) visited five of the twenty-one villages where the Women Empowerment: Community Sanitation through Democratic Participation (WE:CSDP) project is active. The villages were: Devgain, Jharkhand; Ratanpur and Hadiabad, Bihar; Guptapada, Odisha; and Kanti, Haryana. These are the same villages where AMMACHI Labs, Amrita SeRVe and other MA Math activities are ongoing.

The Women are Becoming Champions of Change

The official start of the project began in February of 2017, with a 10-day Train the Trainer initiative. 50 women from 16 states around India convened at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham for the historic cause of taking up the responsibility of becoming Community Organizers for the UNDEF WE:CSDP Project. The trainees became our first women leaders and Champions of Change. In 2014, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in India, Ms. Lise Grande voiced her praises, “AMMACHI Labs has the most creative way of empowering women. Of all of the projects which the UN funds around the world, this is the one dearest to our heart. It’s the one we are most proud of. And it’s the one that we intend to take to the rest of the world so that they can learn from what you have achieved.”

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The Project is Guided & Supported by Dedicated Field Staff

I believe we have an inspired approach to assisting women and the diverse communities in rural India. Over the past years i have witnessed the tremendous potential for vocational education, life skills and the support to work with local government to transform villages and provide the skills for woment to stand their own. The WE:CSDP project takes this approach and applies it to sanitation a critical problem facing much of India. So far we have seen remarkable progress with half of our villages being declared open defection free in only 6 months. Before this, there wre minimal toilet facilities and almost no awareness of the hazards of poor sanitation. The compassionate guidance 0f our chancellor and the experience of our team has had in the field have taught us much and continue to motivate our efforts.

Christopher Coley
Field Deployments and Research
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