The Kathkaris, one of the four anthropologically ‘ancient’ tribes of Maharashtra are still very socially, economically and politically backward. They are originally a forest dwelling community who depend on forest produces and other natural resources (like fishing) for livelihood which means that most of them are landless. With continuous industrialization and deforestation, the Kathkari’s main source of livelihood has been affected and as a result most have taken to manual wage labour to earn income. This has further resulted in people migrating out to various parts of the state for more than six months and also ending up as bonded labour in various industries.
To understand their situation better and hence sharpen focus of our intervention, Ankur Trust undertook a rapid study and found that alcoholism, illiteracy (only 7% are educated), unemployment and migration were the major problems confronting the tribals in Raigad district. Even though the resource poor worked for industrial houses, brick kilns, charcoal industry as casual labour force, their life style continued to remain unchanged. Though most migrated for survival, it was also the single most hindrance for the stability and execution of any development schemes among the Kathkaris. The population therefore is stricken with poverty and face severe food insecurity and malnutrition.
Even within this group the situation of women was worse as the burden to shoulder financial responsibilities had increased markedly. It is against this background that Ankur Trust decided to work on developmental concerns among the Kathkaris in general and women in particular with a right based approach.
Widening the scope of our work:
With the growth in industrialization and enactment of the Special Economic Zone Act (2005), the state government started acquiring huge tracts of land on behalf of corporates. Many small and marginal farmers were forcefully evicted from their land and workers who were given jobs in the various factories were also denied their legitimate rights. In this changing scenario, Ankur Trust decided to work towards bringing these various exploited sections of society together. We are now actively involved in training, mobilising communities to demanding rights to land and livelihood affected due to various SEZs and mining projects in Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.
Vision and Goal:
Vision: Our overall vision is to reduce disparity, to empower the poor and marginalised and facilitate them to take active participation in the structures of local self-governance which will help them determine their own future.
Goal: Our key goal is to empower the indigenous communities by creating awareness about their rights and various schemes of the government made available to them for their development and also motivating them to unite for redressal of their grievances. We also aims to reduce and eliminate
financial dependence and exploitation of the tribals by their land-lords, brick kiln owners and money lenders especially during crisis.
Board of Directors and Organisational Structure:
Our Board consists of three trustees. The Managing Trustee or Director has over 25 years of experience with grass roots communities and is supported by a committed team from the local region itself. Agroup of seven advisors are involved in planning and execution of the programme.
For implementation, we have four programme coordinators and eight social workers of which two are tribal women. In addition to this, the village committees consisting of three to five members from each village also provide their input during planning and implementation of various projects. Some of the close collaborators and consultants of the organisation are eminent persons in the field of development like R.V.Bhuskute and Brian Lobo.