Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action

SOCHARA Silver Jubilee Sourthern Regional Workshop @ Bengaluru

Venue: Pope Paul VI Auditorium, St John’s Research Institute, Bengaluru

Day1 :      Friday, 15th April 2016                    Time: 8.30 AM - 5.30 PM

Theme – Environment and Health

The SOCHARA team decided to use the occasion of the Jubilee to dialogue on important contemporary challenges. The broad theme for first day was chosen as Environment and Health. Under this theme, we had two panel discussions, four parallel workshops and one kalajatha (folk communication performance) were held. 

Focus Sessions: Download Programme Schedule

Panel Discussion -1: Tamilnadu Floods: Narratives of the hyper-acute and chronic dimensions of disasters

The first panel discussion was on the floods that occurred in Tamilnadu in the month of Nov-Dec 2015. Prof. Dr.Shanmuga Velayutham chaired this panel, and other scholar activists shared about the causes, impacts and relief measures undertaken in Chennai and Cuddalore. Mr Arul Selvam from Cuddalore discussed that this was a new experience in his lifetime, which he hasn’t experienced in the last 50 years of his life. Rather than the heavy rains, it was the poor management of land, surface water bodies, and canals that led to the floods and consequently deaths and damage to property (which mainly affect the poor and uninsured). In addition, disaster management was ignored – which is a problem because of several industries located in their area. Focus on relief was given to larger roads such as along state and national highways. Ms. Kausalya, discussed the plight of people living with HIV due to the floods, who were not able to access their medicines or replenish their stocks. More importantly, they also did not receive the same level of support and relief from neighbours. Ms. Sujatha Modi discussed women suffered disproportionately due to the floods. She added that in most areas, neighbours and able bodied persons helped each other out tremendously, beyond societal barriers. Some companies also came forward to help, but it was done for selected groups only. Bottled water and reverse osmosis units were supplied. Persons from Irula community and others from lower socio-economic groups were severely affected, and some were forced to go to work even during the rains to get daily wage. It was opined that flood prevention and relief would be major campaign themes for the upcoming elections in the state. 

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Panel Discussion -2: Rural challenges of agriculture and sanitation: Narratives of the insidious

The second panel discussion was on the theme of “Rural Challenges” and focused on issues faced by the agricultural community and in sanitation. Mr Jayakumar was the chair, and he brought to light various issues being faced by the farming community, and specifically focused on pesticides as a major challenge, stating that “our blood is the most polluted water in the world” because of multiple chemical exposure. Ms Usha Soolapani discussed about the importance of traditional seeds, and she used rice as her case study. Stating that there are hundreds of thousands of varieties, each with specific properties, currently efforts are being made to save and propagate them. Several individuals are coming forward, but there is need for more support from health sector (keeping in mind issues such as “cancer train”, and non communicable diseases). If seeds are not in the control of farmers, they will always be in distress. Mr. Sridhar Radhakrishnan spoke about agrarian crisis and distress, discussing the challenges of modern technology and chemical driven agricultural approaches, which focuses only on “output” without looking at agriculture as an ecosystem. Some solutions were suggested such as emphasis on agro-ecological farming, farmers’ rights and guaranteed income, and food safety. Dr Marcella D’Souza discussed about the engagement taking place with communities in drought prone areas to adapt to climate change. The importance of assessing local governmental schemes, vulnerability assessment, and encouragement of sustainable practices was emphasised. Livelihoods challenges are huge in rain-dependent agricultural areas. Mr. Prahlad discussed the critical challenges in the context of sanitation – such a gender, mental health and corruption. Case studies of women facing harassment, construction of low cost model of toilets and cultural challenges were discussed. 

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Parallel Workshops : Download Workshop NOTEs

1. Environmental Health Education (Ms.Stefi Barna, Azim Premji University, and Ms. Manjulika Vaz, St John’s Research Institute)
2. Food Systems and Health (Ms. Usha and Mr.Sridhar, Thanal, Trivandrum, and Dr. Dwiji, The Millet Foundation, Bengaluru);
3. Sustainable Sanitation (Ms. Uma Chaitanya, SOCHARA; Ms. Hemalatha, WaterAid; Mr. Ganesh, Thangai Jana Seva Sangha; and Mr. Prahlad, SOCHARA)
4. Climate Change, Society and Health ((Shibaji Bose, Upasona Ghosh, and Lalitha Vadrevu, IIHMR, Kolkata)

The first parallel workshop was on curriculum setting for education on environmental determinants of health, which was conducted by Stefi Barna and Manjulika Vaz. A deliberative discussion was conducted keeping audience interests in mind. Suggestions on encouraging eco-friendly campuses were also shared. The second workshop was on food systems and agriculture conducted by Dwijendranath, Sridhar and Usha where they discussed linkages between nutrition, food and agriculture. They pathways of food systems were also explored through group activities, and an exercise on sustainable nutrition was also conducted. The third workshop was on sustainable sanitation in community and healthcare by Mr. Prahlad, Ms. Uma, Mr. Alfred and Dr. Tejaswi. Aspects related to community engagement, challenges in urban sanitation, importance of sanitation in healthcare services were discussed. The fourth workshop was on climate, society and health, which was conducted by Lalitha Vadrevu and Shibaji Bose. They discussed about the context in the Sundarbans in West Bengal, and use the “vulnerability” lens to unpack local research and action challenges. Climatic vagaries, outmigration of men, lack of access to healthcare, and poverty add to the existing burdens. They also discussed about the findings from photographs taken by local women to depict challenges. Approaches of translating research to policy were also discussed. 

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Day2 :      Saturday, 16th April 2016               Tme: 9.30 AM - 5.30 PM

Theme – SOCHARA SilverJubilee events and reflection on communitization

Focus Sessions: Download Programme Schedule

Continued day two of SOCHARA silver jubilee workshop with the broad focus theme of Refelection on Communitization including a panel disscussion and four Parallel workshops

Panel Discussion -1: Communitization of the Health System

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Parallel Workshops: Download Workshop NOTEs

1. Governance indicators & performance (by Public Affairs Centre)
2. Role of PRIs (Chair - Prof.Shanmuga Velayutham, PRI members & Panchayat Presidents)
3. Does communitization address marginalisation? (with Sudha N, JAAK;  Basic Needs India)
4. Role of ICT in Community Action (with Suresh-SOCHARA, Velliangiri & Kamaraj-MNI and Shyam-GRAAM)

A five member panel from diverse background shared their experiences and views on the topic. Later they responded to the questions from the audience. Followed this there were four parallel workshop on the following themes; Governance and indicators and performance, Role of Panchayti Raj Institutions (PRI), Does communitisation address marginalisation, Role of ICT in community Action. These workshops were facilitated by eminent resource person on the subject. Key issues discussed during the parallel workshop and the action points were presented in the plenary by the rapporteurs. The programme concluded with the vote of thanks by the SOCHARA team members. 

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Get more....

1. Photo gallery

2. Full workshop report - PDF



SOCHARA Silver Jubilee