Strengthening local democracy in India with Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI)
Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI), founded by Azim Premji, focuses on improving local governance by strengthening community and civil society groups to implement holistic development plans.
As part of APPI’s theme on governance, a local democracy programme has been introduced in selected states of India. The programme empowers grassroots democratic institutions by training them to facilitate effective delivery of services and become truly representative of the population. Akvo is the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) partner in the districts of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India.
Above: Villagers from Lolakpur in Dovra Block during a PESA awareness campaign. Rajasthan, India, October 2017. Credits: Rajat Kumar, Astha Sansthan.
This project targets predominantly tribal districts of Rajasthan in India. Concentrated in remote and inaccessible areas, usually hills and forests, indigenous people are not homogenous groups. They differ from each other not just in terms of their ecology, cultural identity, economic organisation and social and religious practices but also in the nature of their relationship to national political and economic systems. By strengthening village level democracy in rural areas, communities will be empowered to plan and manage their own resources according to local needs and customs.
The project needed a robust M&E solution so that the implementing partner, Astha, could assess the needs of each community and work closely with village representatives, youth groups, and institutions to prepare for and implement village development plans.
Before using Akvo Flow, Sustainable Harvest International conducted surveys using pen and paper. The time saved using Flow, which captures data digitally and generates reports immediately, allows project staff to spend more time communicating with the participant families. Furthermore, the local field trainers can access all of the previous surveys online, allowing progress to be monitored over time.
Today, Sustainable Harvest International uses Akvo Flow to conduct all surveys as part of their internal monitoring and evaluation (M&E) program and to fulfill reporting requirements for various funders. In a typical year, they conduct baseline surveys, bi-annual monitoring surveys, endline assessments, and end-of-phase evaluations in order to investigate farmer behavior and conventional agriculture practices, including the use of agrochemicals and slash-and-burn techniques. Sustainable Harvest International also captures data relating to their five impact areas when information is needed during program interventions. Akvo Lumen is used to make this data tangible and to understand how the program contributes toward sustained land for future generations, reversed effects of tropical deforestation, increased access to healthy food, and the creation of self-supporting communities through small business development.
Strengthening Local Democracy Program in Dungarpur. Building capacities of village-level institutions
The results of the baseline evaluation were shared in a detailed report with other project teams. This strong quantitative baseline can be used to track the progress of the projects as they develop. The project activities are spread out across 63 Gram Panchayats, village councils, in the Dungarpur district of Rajasthan.
Building upon Akvo’s work in Rajasthan, APPI has extended the partnership to the district of Gujarat.