Phase One – (People, Ecology & Agriculture)
During the first phase, ARCOD got in to several capacity building, field analysis, identification of different kinds of leadership at the grass roots, formation and strengthening of women and farmers collectives, implementation of projects such as income generation activities of the women, waste land development, watershed management, organic farming and enabling poor women avail available and suitable resources from government and banks. ARCOD identified then fading traditional birth attendants and provided them with certain skills and knowledge to perform better.
Reproductive Child Health (RCH) initiative to sensitize the adolescent boys and girls along with their parents and community leaders was another land mark in the history of ARCOD. The experience and insights gained from the initiatives during the first phase directed ARCOD to choose Microfinance as a main tool for socio-economic change during the second phase. I was invited by international agricultural center, Wageningen, The Nederland for training in soil and water conservation programme in 1994. This helped ARCOD in taking up water shed projects subsequently.
In the year 2000, the director of ARCOD was invited by Grameen bank in Bangladesh to participate in international dialogue on microfinance for a period of 15 days. It was very useful to design ARCOD’s microfinance programme subsequently. This phase entailed all the energy of ARCOD got channelled towards Microfinance and this resulted in expansion in outreach as ARCOD started its microfinance in other districts (Thiruvannamalai, Erode and Dharmapuri) from 32 SHGs in 1997 to 534 SHGs in 2002. ARCOD reflected on the then situation of the microfinance when nationalized banks were increasingly providing credit to the women SHGs. During this period ARCOD did not receive grants for developmental activities. However, a new opportunity began in the year 2000 to work for the tea estate workers in Tamilnadu with the support of Fair Trade Labelling organisation in Germany. This opportunity was a new learning for ARCOD to strengthen the skills in welfare activities and financial management. ARCOD initiated this work with one estate in 2000 and now there are 10 tea estates in Tamilnadu and Kerala. This initiative facilitated sharpening financial management skills of ARCOD’s team. It was 2005 when ARCOD realized the need for gradual withdrawal from direct Microfinance and shifting to facilitating linkages between bank and women SHGs.
During this phase NESA (New Entity for Social Action) Bangalore a larger networking organization in South India recognized ARCOD’s experience and capability designated as resource organization for Micro Finance to help promote microfinance in 36 Dalit headed NGOs in Tamilnadu. ARCOD did its best to capacitate the NGOs to develop conceptual clarity and micro finance management capabilities.
Our Response to Tsunami: ARCOD responded to the Tsunami by mobilizing food, blankets, clothes and cash from the Women SHGs, farmers groups and general public and delivered to the Tsunami victims. Subsequently the Director of ARCOD headed a state level team constituted by NESA to study the needs of the families of the Tsunami victims. However, ARCOD decided not to take up any project related to Tsunami victims’ rehabilitation as there were several other players.
ARCOD got in to two more significant projects during the second phase. One was the Targeted Intervention to prevent HIV/AIDs (on going now) and another was to capacitate the women candidates who contested Panchayat Raj elections and these women were provided training, exposure and day to day guidance and after the elections two years. These two projects enabled ARCOD to spread its outreach across the district of Krishnagiri and also learning from these two projects fetched many useful insights. Subsequently ARCOD organized vocational skill training for young women and men.
Due to the visibility of ARCOD the Director was invited as an international observer for the Parliamentary elections in Srilanka in 2004. It was a very good experience and honour to have represented India from NGO sector.
This phase has several initiatives addressing issues affecting children. ARCOD identified the issues affecting the quality learning by linguistic minority children in the district and partnered with Aide et Action, France to implement “Mozhi” Project from 2009 to 2014. This project helped about 7500 linguistic minority children in improving their quality learning.
Following are the ongoing activities related to Children
1. Child line-1098 ,
2. Nutrition and education support for the HIV infected and affected children
3. Facilitating quality learning by the children of linguistic minorities
4. Gift a Future – Supporting poor children for Education
5. LAMP – Promoting Girls Education
Besides, ARCOD has been continuously working for the HIV prevention in two districts with different approaches.
Thus ARCOD has been changing its roles as per changing needs of the communities in 3 phases in the last 31 years. While doing this, ARCOD has been consciously following a “convergence approach and providing linkages to current and the already initiated work.