Our History:

Starting with helping tribals in 49 villages get access to ration cards and caste certificates, our work of community mobilization spread to 200 villages in East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts to intervene in problems of land alienation, non recognition of tribals outside Scheduled Areas, forest conflicts, state neglect in providing basic facilities and infrastructure, human rights abuses, trade and economic exploitation by non tribal societies and external threats to traditional knowledge systems.Private industries and mining conglomerates replaced feudal landlords in encroaching tribal and forest-lands in collusion with the State, threatening the very basis of the Constitution. A strong people’s movement with support from
larger judicial, media and scientific communities led to a historic victory for the tribal people in a remote village. The Supreme Court verdict of 1997 better known as the Samatha Judgment transformed a small legal tussle into a national debate on the rights of the 100 million
Adivasi people of this nation.
This also transformed Samata from a community based social action group into an organization for Advocacy and Support for tribal and environment protection in the Eastern Ghats.

Areas of Work:

  • At a community level we work in north coastal Andhra Pradesh.
  • At the state level we are an advocacy and lobby group on tribal and environment issues
  • At the national level we campaign and lobby on policies affecting tribal people, other marginalized poor and natural resources of the country
  • At an international level, we network with human rights and indigenous peoples’ groups to strengthen a global collective voice for just development.

OUR ADVOCACY WORK INVOLVES:

1. Advocacy on Tribal Issues

  • Protection of Constitutional rights of the tribals as in the Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution
  • Support to tribal community struggles for protection of their rights against the proposed bauxite and other mining activities in tribal and forest lands
  • Facilitating assertion of forest rights of tribal people and resolution of conflicts vis-à-vis State forest policies
  • Campaign against largescale displacement of tribal people for proposed irrigation projects
  • Monitor public policies relating to tribal people and dialogue with government
  • Advocate for and support sustainable community managed alternative systems of development

2. Strengthening Tribal Self Rule and Decentralized Governance

  • Realization of the goal of Tribal Self Rule through promoting decentralized governance institutions like the Gram Sabhas (village councils)
  • Building capacities of communities to assert for constitutional and customary rights
  • Training tribal women to take leadership in governance institutions and in community struggles.
  • Strengthening collective actions and solidarity among Gram Sabhas to support local campaigns

3. Development Support

Education:

  • Support in setting up primary level community schools and dialogue with government to fulfill its mandate of universal primary education
  • Assist children in enrollment into government residential and primary schools
  • Mobilise community responses to ensure better school management
  • Develop tribal contextual curriculum and promote tribal culture through education
  • Explore resources to support higher education for meritorious tribal students

Health:

  • Training of Community Health Workers and promotion of traditional health knowledge systems
  • Referral Services to district and state public hospitals
  • Coordinate with local health departments and advocacy on tribal health policies
  • Social health counseling for tribal girls

Alternative Development:

  • Mobilise resources and technical expertise for providing potable drinking water
  • Mobilise resources for providing housing material
  • Explore alternatives to energy and irrigation needs like construction of micro-hydro electric projects and check-dams with community management
  • Lobby with government for implementation of development programs for infrastructure

4. Monitoring Mining and other Industries:

  • As National Secretariat, facilitate the work of a national alliance of mining struggle groups and communities in India called “mines, minerals & PEOPLE”
  • Campaign for protection of rights of communities and workers affected by mining from green-field areas to abandoned mine-sites
  • Monitor global mining industry and mineral policies
  • Coordinate support to the “International Women and Mining Network”
  • Network with mining struggles within the country and with international groups

5. Support to Community Based Organizations (CBO’s):

  • Support local campaigns of CBO’s in the region of north coastal Andhra Pradesh
  • Capacity building and training of CBO’s for organization management, linkage, resource mobilization, documentation and community mobilization skills
  • Mobilise financial and other resources for the grass-roots work of CBO’s
  • Facilitate linkages with government and other institutions for local issues
  • Facilitate legal aid, media advocacy, campaign, documentation, research and development support

6. Advocacy on Urban Environment Concerns:

  • Mobilise urban public opinion on public policies and state programmes
  • Participation and support to urban citizens forums like “Forum For a Better Hyderabad” and “Forum for a Better Visakha”
  • Support CBO’s represent the problems of urban poor and migrant communities

Team:

We have a dedicated team of grass-roots activists from rural and tribal communities with several years of experience in the field of development and social action. This team is assisted by professionals based in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, from varied disciplines like Rural Development, Management, Social Work, Mass Communications, Social Sciences, Law and such other technical fields.

Volunteering with Samata:

Samata’s work is assisted by voluntary services from civil society like advocates, geologists, teachers, farmers, journalists, researchers, etc, for many of its outreach activities. Over the last many years volunteers from India and abroad have played key roles in our initiatives and we
are truly grateful to them. We welcome inspired women and men to take up part or full time volunteering assignments with us.

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