A major program last year was that of the Awareness Campaign on the Right to Information Act, which was undertaken by THP and supported by UNDP. This was of special importance since it is a well known fact that even though there are a plethora of schemes and programmes for the rural poor, not much actually reaches them. Apart from administrative apathy and corruption which stalls grassroots development, people often have no information even about the money that comes for them. Though the right to information has been recognized as one of the fundamental rights, and the Right to Information Act, 2005, came into force to enforce that right; in reality it is yet to pick up momentum in Odisha. To bring about a realization that the RTI Act is not only for protecting our fundamental right to information, but also to ensure transparency and proper implementation of various schemes and projects that come for people, THP launched an awareness campaign on the RTI Act amongst EWRs and other Community Based Organizations (CBOs), so that they can link it to their work in their communities and help bring about transparency and accountability in local governing processes.
A four-pronged strategy was evolved to reach the Act to the targeted audience- they are as follows:
- Two 3-day Training of Trainer (ToT) programs by the State Office of THP; one for THP Partners who took the process further with EWRs in their areas; and the other for CBOs to spread awareness about the importance of the Act in non-THP working areas,
- 28 two-day Cluster level Workshops where THP trainers trained EWRs from a few panchayats on practical aspects and use of the RTI Act to solve local issues
- 14 one-day Block level Workshops which gathered EWRs from all clusters to share experiences, serve as a follow –up and bridge any gaps in their previous learning
- 79 cultural programmes like street plays, puppet show, folk dance-dramas etc. adapted to local contexts to spread awareness amongst the local community.
Apart from the above, IEC Materials were also developed for further dissemination of the RTI Act amongst the general public.
- 20-25 applications filed in each THP area- (100 approx from 6 districts.)
- TOT participants carrying forward campaign as trainers & holding awareness meetings on own initiative in their areas
- A former Minister and a serving Collector appreciate selection of THP’s target audience and methods (cultural programmes) & request more such in other non-THP areas as well.
- THP gained much appreciation and recognition as truly concerned for grassroots empowerment by other NGOs and CBOs (community based organization)