People’s Forum came into existence in the year 1989 with a mandate to provide a platform for the vulnerable and deprived sections of the community, whose voices have remained unheard, rights ignored and basic entitlements not accomplished.
The organization completed 25 years of its existence last year. A small initiative started with the noble intention to reach out to the unreachable has grown in magnitude and stature. Main focus of the Organization has been to create sensitization and awareness amongst people on issues of social importance, mobilizing youths and working towards people’s collectives to help them realize their entitlement and motivate them to strive for it. With changing social scenario and development context, the Organization has relooked its strategic mandates and responded to the changed scenario, keeping intact its vision. The Organization strongly believes the factors like poverty, gender and caste discrimination increase vulnerability and deprivation. These in turn hamper inclusive growth and development.
The Organization has been committed towards inclusive growth of marginalized sections of people and communities. In its two decades and above long journey, it had the privilege to work with various agencies including Government, Corporate, Banks and International agencies. With changing development context and people’s knowledge and graduated need, the organization has always relooked its strategic mandate and supported education, livelihood, financial inclusion, health and sanitation services. It has always reset its course to reinforce its commitment to the issues of human rights and poverty alleviation. In this light the organization has, in the last 25 year, been expanding its gamut of activities based on the needs of the people. It adheres to an approach which is subject specific and works with a strategic framework predominantly in a mission mode to address the diverse problems.
People’s Forum believes that poverty, gender, caste discrimination, vulnerability and deprivation has been major cause of hindering inclusive growth and development. The organization is mandated to address inclusive growth enabling marginalized section of people to have a dignified and secured living. The organization is very unique in identifying the areas of intervention, regions and target population so that any serious problem or secluded people may not remain unattended. In its effort to work towards inclusive development, the organization has worked in varied sectors targeting diverse groups by designing need based project interventions.
From time to time the organization has responded to meet the specific needs of the community in which it has been working. Activities such as livelihood restoration, skill enhancement, group formations and strengthening, water and sanitation etc have been taken up with the support of various Organisations. NABARD promoted WSHG program, Pigeon pea project by ICRISAT, Rickshaw Sangh Project by America India Foundation and KIVA supported initiative to support livelihood of vulnerable sections of society like Persons with disability, single women headed families and other vulnerable groups who donot have access to resources and services.
The organization has adopted a self sustained model initiating revenue generating developmental activities where the profit could be utilized to sustain various strategic activities mentioned above even in absence of regular external funding. This is the reason why programs that had been appreciated by communities and that have helped to address their crucial issues continues unabated even to date, though the initial funding of the project has ended. Some of such initiatives includes SWASTH loan for creating/ strengthening water and sanitation facilities supported by wateraid.org, RICKSHAW program supported by AIF, the project is continuing in the district of Bhadrak even after the closure of the funding.
These were the initial years of the Organization’s establishment. Thus the same can be treated as the phase of infancy that was however marked by the fury of youth who had come together with huge motivation and commitment to work towards an equitable society with space for the vulnerable communities. Some of the important initiatives that marked the phase included Organisation’s involvement in movements and campaigns like “Amaku banchibaku dia (a fight against the displacement of lepers’ colony in Bhubaneswar and Khurda)”, “Hataku Kama Andoloan” in Bolgarh block of Nayagada district. Besides this the Organisation also fought for the rights of SC/ STs in tribal districts of the State.
This phase of the Organisation was dominated by charity based vision, wherein the focus of the organization was basically channelizing government and donor agencies aids and grants to the door steps of most marginalized families and support them in every possible way to help them live with dignity.
This phase is critical in the history of the State as it witnessed one of the worst natural disasters. The Organization took on to its moral responsibility to support the people of the State in a situation of crises. Programmes like Adopt-A-Granny, Sanchaya Shakti, livestock management, health promotion etc were promoted. Besides this various rehabilitation programmes were also initiated within the period. The focus was the areas that were highly affected by super cyclone.
Over the years it was realized that supporting only a part of the population makes our intervention limited to a particular section of the society. In order to reach out to the larger society in order to fulfill the organisation’s mandate it was essential to broaden its reach and accordingly modify the intervention strategy. It started direct intervention in difficult areas and it was during this phase that the organization initiated activities like livelihood restoration, irrigation, nursery development, drought mitigation, cluster development etc.
The organization completed 25 years of its existence in the year 2015. As an organization with around two decades of developmental experience standing besides it, People’s Forum was now a steady and growing organization. This phase marked the Organisation’s initiative to promote different institutions and trying to attain self sufficiency. The Organisation declared itself a micro finance institution during this period. Development programmes, rural marketing, agriculture and pisciculture farms, training institution, business development support services, etc though initiated earlier, strengthened during this phase of the Organisation.
Though the focus and strategy of intervention has varied with passing years, yet the fact remained that the Organisation never left its core values, mission and vision. It even to date is striving to work for the betterment of the downtrodden and marginalized individuals and communities. Its initiatives have never been dependent on projects, rather the Organization has tried to sustain its various initiatives by getting funds for feasible sources.