Udupi: Samagra Grameena Ashram wins prestigious UN Habitat Gold Award

Daijiworld Media Network – Udupi (HB)

Udupi, Feb 29: Samagra Grameena Ashram (SGA), a non-governmental organisation is the winner of a gold award at this year’s World Habitat Awards. The prestigious award was conferred to SGA for restoring dignity and human rights of indigenous tribal community in Karnataka, India said Ashok Shetty, project coordinator of SGA and Koraga Development Federation.

Speaking at the Udupi Press Club, here on Friday, February 28, Shetty said that SGA facilitated Koraga Abhivridhi Sangagala Okkoota (Koraga Development Federation) in Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Kasargod and the Karnataka Aarnyamoola Budakattu Samudayagala Okkoota in the Western Ghat regions of Shimoga, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Kodagu and Mysuru districts for the communities — Hasalaru, Gonda, Malekudiya, Hakkipikki, Jenu Kuruba, Betta Kuruba, Yerava, Soliga, Dongrigaraciya and Koraga. The Action Aid India, Bengaluru, supported SGA to achieve this goal.

With this initiative, the indigenous communities received thousands of acres of revenue and forest lands, access to state grants to build new houses, a state-sponsored nutrition programme for improved food security and health, transformative change in the education of children and women taking leadership positions within the community and society.

SGA started its journey in the year 1987, working in 21 hamlets of Koraga community in the present Kaup taluk. It rendered its services to enhance the livelihood opportunities of women by introducing jasmine cultivation, supplying the processed coir fibre to prepare coir products, supplying the raw materials for the traditional occupation of basket weaving. From 1991 onwards, SGA facilitated the Koraga community with the right based approach. In the process, a study committee was made headed by Dr Mohammed Peer, Department of Sociology, Mangalore University.

The study committee in its recommendation stated that land has to be provided. The land movement further strengthened and ultimately the community was able to obtain over 600 acres of land. At the same time, the community started a movement to restore their dignity and SGA demanded the abolition of Ajal ritual, connected with untouchability. The government passed the Ajal Abolition Act. Afterwards, the community led the movement for quality nutrition food, education and health. "SGA now aims to encourage the community in agriculture. Nowadays, the number of school dropouts has decreased. There is needed to create awareness about alcoholism and de-addiction," said Ashok.

SGA extended its work to Kodagu district in the year 2008 with the support of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. SGA then took up work in Mysuru district in the year 2010 and in the year 2011, work was taken up in Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Shimoga districts. The NGO has worked in developing nine indigenous communities. The historical foot march from Kuppalli, Shimoga to Freedom Park, Bengaluru is the major event organised by the Karnataka Aarnyamoola Budakattugala Okkoota. Now, the 10 communities can assert their nutrition food rights and own 49,000 acres of forest land and 19,000 houses.

This is the fourth time this award has been conferred to India and first time to Karnataka. The award ceremony was held on February 11 in the 10— World Urban Forum organised by the UN. Along with the golden trophy, a cash prize of EUR 10,000 and USD 20,000 was conferred to SGA to continue its work with the community.

The present president Shakunthala, coordinator Ashok and the Action Aid India, Bengaluru Regional Manager Nandini obtained the award from the UN deputy director Victor Osaka.

Koraga Development Federation president Ammanni, Karnataka-Kerala president Shakunthala, and SGA secretary K Puthran were present at the press meet.





Title : Udupi: Samagra Grameena Ashram wins prestigious UN Habitat Gold Award


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