Protection and Promotion of Child Rights

Child marriage is one of the factors which deprive the child of its right. Evidence shows that early marriage makes girls more vulnerable for violence, abuse and exploitation. For both girls and boys, marriage has a strong physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impact, cutting off educational opportunities and chances of personal growth. It is hard to know the exact number of child marriages as many are unregistered and unofficial. It is estimated that 22% of marriages occurs for girls below 18 years and around 8% occurs for boys below 21 years still in Karnataka.  

It is proved fact that, early marriage deprives children of access to education and therefore to better opportunities in the future. It also limits the child’s freedom of decision and contributes to the generational cycle of poverty. Child marriage is often associated with multiple health risks. This is because young brides have limited access to, and use of, contraception and reproductive health services and information.

The majority are exposed to early and frequent sexual relations and to repeated pregnancies and childbirth before they are physically mature and psychologically ready. Obstetric fistula is one of the most devastating consequences, with over two million girls and young women affected by this treatable and   reproductive health complication. Domestic violence thrives in an environment where women feel powerless and lack access to vital resources and decision making powers. Evidence suggests that young brides are more likely to be exposed to violence due to the limited power of negotiations. 

The negative impact of child marriage is acknowledged worldwide. Policies and programs focus strongly on prevention. It is necessary to protect the child rights of girls who are at risk of being married off. It is equally important to protect the rights of girls who have already entered marriage.  Targeting the wellbeing of hundreds of such Princesses in its operational area, SEVAK has been implementing IMAGE K (Initiative for Married Adolescent Girls Empowerment Karnataka project in three blocks of Belagavi district targeting 600+ early married girls.  It is an collaborative action supported by TdH Netherlands to protect and promote the rights of young girls who are wives and children at the same time. Their health and wellbeing is at risk because of being married off in early age. Their health rights are not recognized, they are not protected. Yet, their future generation depends on them. Families and communities rely on them. They run households, cook, raise children, engaged in domestic help and support the families by working as agriculture and construction laborers, they also care for the sick and the old in the families. They deserve respect and support.

The project IMAGE K focuses on their health rights. Empowering girls in their marriage will plant the seed for prevention as well. Married girls, aware of their child rights and their human rights, will become aware of the need for alternative strategies for their daughters.

Other Activities:

Apart from IMAGE K Project, S E V A K has been engaged in organizing Child Rights Clubs in schools, strengthening them with necessary awareness and trainings, facilitating in organizing Makkala Grama Sabhas in the Gram Panchayats in the operational area. Community awareness on issues concerning to the violation of child rights such as child marriage, child laboueres, prevention and addressing physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse on children and adressignthe issues of survival, protection, education, development and participatory rights of the children. 

Community Health

The Government aims at providing affordable, accessible and quality health services to all, this is particularly so, to reach everyone, particularly the vulnerable and marginalized sections in rural areas.  In spite of all the efforts of Government through various Schemes and Programs, equity is a big issue as there are certain sections of the society like people living in remote, inaccessible villages in hilly or difficult to reach areas, areas which are mostly populated by Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Tribe, areas which are inhabited by homeless, tribals or Below Poverty Line sections.  These communities are deprived of basic health care, due to services not accessible, or services, which these communities access by incurring high Out of Pocket Expenditure. 

Other important reason for this pathetic state is Health Institutions not equitably distributed, and most of the Primary and Community Health Centres in rural areas are ill equipped with Manpower and other infrastructure. Most of the Primary Health Centres and Community Health Centres are without Doctors and other crucial Para-Medical Staff. All these contribute to the perilous state of Health Care, as it drives away the needy to the monstrous Private Sector, who fleece the poor and drive them to abyss of poverty.  Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) are an innovation to address these gaps, MMUs have been envisaged to provide a set of preventive, promotive and curative services at the door steps of deprived population. In this context, SEVAK in joint venture with United Social Welfare Association of Belgaum has been running six units of Mobile Health Units in 65 remote villages in Belagavi, Khanapur (2 units), Hukkeri, Raibag and Gokak blocks of Belagavi district

For this assignment twelve to thirteen most remote and difficult to reach areas / villages which are far away from a fixed health facility with poor outreach services have been identified for each of the MMU to bring them under Mobile Medical Unit care. We have established Mobile Medical Units Service with the stipulated vehicle, manpower, equipment, drugs and specified diagnostic services and have been providing 6 hours of preventive, promotive and curative services per day at the identified villages on fixed days, every week. There is flexible, feasible and  suitable methodology, work plan, monitoring mechanism with appropriate indicators to meet the objectives of MMU Services. Thus, SEVAK in joint venture of United Social Welfare Association of Belgaum operationalize six Mobile Medical Unit which effective provide outreach preventive and promotive services through the field staff, create awareness about various NHM and State Programs, increase demand for health services, facilitate access of services in Government facilities, timely referral and improved community participation for health. 

The objectives of running Mobile Medical Units are:

  • To ensure assured fixed day care services in fixed locations for 3-4 hours in identified villages
  • To provide quality Primary Health Care services including referral services as per the objectives of NHM and Government of Karnataka
  • To contribute to improvements in IMR, MMR and CMR and other health goals in the designated areas, by reducing the Infant & Maternal Mortality and communicable diseases like malaria, T.B, AIDS, pneumonia, water borne diseases etc
  • To provide essential health care services for chronic illness such as such as Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, Epilepsy, Chronic Bronchitis, Chronic Bronchial Asthma, Chronic Arthritis, Acid Peptic Disease (Gastritis) etc
  • To provide minimum Laboratory Investigation such as Urine for Alb & Sugar, Pregnancy test, Blood Sugar level estimation, Hemoglobin estimation etc
  • To create awareness regarding communicable and non-communicable diseases and their prevention through IEC activities
  • To reduce Out of Pocket Expenditure of target populations.

Community Monitoring of PDS


Sustainable Development Goal is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030 and India with its 2013 National Food Security Act (NFSA) had already set the ball rolling. Under the NFSA falls the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) that expanded the coverage to 67% of the population, from 44%. The Public Distribution System established by the Government of India provides subsidized essential commodities, both food and non-food, to identified beneficiaries in rural and urban areas across the country. The States are responsible for both, identifying the beneficiaries as well as distribution of essential commodities – done via Government sponsored shops known as Fair Price Shops (FPS) that are located in every urban, semi urban and rural areas across India. However, there are well documented issues in the proper running of this distribution channel that result in citizens being deprived of their right to food security. Moreover, what ails the implementation of the true spirit of NFSA is the lack of engagement with the communities. SEVAK has joined the initiatives of Public Affairs Centre and started working on a study project – “Citizen Monitoring of Fair Price Shops in Karnataka” in Belagavi, Koppal, Dharwad and Uttar Kannada districts to address the problem of inefficient functioning of Fair Price Shops (FPS) in these districts by empowering the community members with the Agency to Advocate for their entitlements. Using Citizen Monitoring tools that empowers community participation to take informed action to tackle this problem, the aim is to develop a standardized Citizen Monitoring Process for Fair Price Shops in the targeted districts to improve the accountability, transparency and service delivery associated with PDS.

As the poverty ratio of Karnataka is nearly 26%, the Public distribution system is not only considered to be one of the important poverty alleviation programmes but also an important food security scheme. The project aims to enhance the communities’ rights–based access of food and non-food commodities for through the Public Distribution System (PDS) during the implementation of this study project, it has brought out some interesting insights. 

  • Gram Sabhas are an effective platform for community members to share their pain-points pertaining their entitlements vis a vis the Public Distribution System.
  • Community members when engaged and empowered as Citizen Monitors and armed with actionable knowledge can be formidable agents of change on the ground.
  • These empowered Citizen Monitors were able to engage with district officials and ensure action on discrepancies noted in the PDS process. 
  • Citizen Monitoring and Action Teams (CMATs) in 6 FPSs in Udupi were implementing best practices, in terms of maintaining relevant documentation within store premises.

Nutritional Education for Women

Nutrition is crucial for the fulfillment of human rights – especially those of the most vulnerable children, girls and women, locked in an intergenerational cycle of multiple deprivations. Further it plays a major role in an individual’s overall health; psychological and physical health status is often dramatically impacted by the presence of malnutrition. India currently has one of the highest rates of malnourished women among developing countries. It constitutes the foundation for human development, by reducing susceptibility to infections, reducing related morbidity, disability and mortality, enhancing cumulative lifelong learning capacities, and adult productivity. It is critical to prevent under nutrition, as early as possible, across the life cycle, to avert irreversible cumulative growth and development deficits that compromise maternal and child health and survival, achievement of optimal learning outcomes.

Woman, the Pillar of the family, needs to be the Best in Health, then only Family sustains – Family Sustains – The Nation Sustains.  Nutrition is an input to and foundation for health and development. Better nutrition is a prime entry point to ending poverty and a milestone to achieving better quality of life. Freedom from hunger and malnutrition is a basic human right and their alleviation is a fundamental prerequisite for human and national development.

Iron deficiency Anemia continues to be a major public health problem in developing countries including in India, particularly among females of reproductive age. The prevalence of anemia among all women in the Indian sample estimated to be 52%. Fifteen percent of these women are classified as moderately anemic (Hb 70–99 g/l) and 2% as severely anemic (Hb <70 g/l). While there are regional differences, prevalence rates across the states are remarkably similar. Iron deficiency Anemia is the commonest nutritional cause of anaemia accounting for about 95% of anemia cases, other Nutritional factors like Folic Acid, Vitamin B 12 and others account for 3-4% of the causes.

SEVAK strongly believes that generating awareness among women and take necessary actions to prevent and control Iron Deficiency Anaemia through organizing workshops, promoting healthy food behavior and promoting low cost nutritional input through growing Bio intensive vegetable gardening becomes imperative.  Therefore, with the financial assistance of National Council for Science and Technology Communication, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and with the technical assistance of Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Community Science, University of Agriculture, Dharwad, University of Agriculture, Raichur and local Krishi Vignan Kendras of Belgaum, Gokak, Dharwad, Raichur and Gadag, has initiated implementing a project titled “Nutrition Education for Women” (NEW) aimed to develop selected 300 Women representatives, who can further influence more women, who can make an impact in this regard with the objectives of – helping individuals to meet health requirements through desirable food habits and nutritional practices that are adopted to the cultural pattern and food resources for the area in which they live – imparting necessary  awareness and skill development on the scientific methods & information to have low cost and accessible remedies for malnutrition, and prevention of health problems  and – Increasing the participation of women in Health and Nutrition related programmes of the Government. 

Under the project  Nutrition Education for Women (NEW), workshops for representatives of women organisations, students of Education, students of college of Social Work and adolescent girl students for prevention of Iron deficiency anaemia organized in Belagavi, Chikodi, Dharwad, Gadag and Raichur districts.

Science Communication through Puppetry

Puppets are an aspect of our history and everyday lives. From marionettes to the Muppets we see them on television, on videos or in live performances. In their different forms they appeal to both old and young alike, represent different customs and traditions and are valuable educational tools. Puppets are both entertaining and captivating. Children can believe and relate to them; they can enter and explore the fascinating inventive world that puppets create.

Learning through play is fundamental to our children’s education, helping them to develop the necessary skills in life. Puppets can stimulate children’s imagination, encourage creative play and discovery and are a wonderful interactive way to introduce narrative to even the most reluctant reader. They can be a powerful way of bringing story time to life; puppets can provide a focus for role play, encouraging the child’s imagination and involvement in activities and can play a fundamental part in the recitation of stories and verse. In addition, hand puppets with workable mouths and tongues are an excellent motivational resource to inspire the teaching of phonics within literacy.

SEVAK has selected traditional Puppetry folk media as media for communicating Science and social issues to the public in general and students groups in particular. The reasons being traditional media come from the people and antecedent the mass media. Their appeal has historically been both functional and aesthetic. Folk Medias have always served to entertain, educate to reinforce existing ideas or ideologies or to change existing values and attitudes. Being close to people at local level, these channels are potentially useful in the service of social concern, as determined by local, provincial or national authorities themselves.

Folk arts are a part of the way of life of a community and provide acceptable means of bringing development issues into the community in its own items. Another advantage of the traditional media is that they attract people who might not attend an educational meeting with skill, new content might be added to the old forms which are already familiar and dear to the people, finally, unlike mass media programmes, produced for large and often diverse audience, the folk forms can use familiar dialects for the most intimate and local communication at the village level.  With the objectives of: 

– enhance communication skills among teachers,  students, youth and volunteers through traditional puppetry by training them in creation, modulating and manipulating the pipe puppets 

– creating science related knowledge in local language 

– bringing innovative and fascinating learning environment in schools so that children enhance interest in school curriculum participate actively and also to rejuvenating the ancient art of traditional folk media, SEVAK has been implementing  the project

– Science Communication through Puppetry in 7 districts in northern Karnataka, Belagavi, Dharwad. 

The local science, social and Educational institutions such as Universities, Colleges of Education, Colleges of Social Work, Krishi Vignan Kendra and local Science centers in the targeted district are collaborated in implementing this project.

SHGs & Women Empowerment

It is true that financial independence makes a woman assertive and empowered. Financially empowered women are a bulwark against societal evils. With this belief, since its inception SEVAK stresses on organizing the rural poor into small groups through a process of social mobilization, training and providing bank credit and government subsidy. The SHGs have been drawn from the BPL and marginalized families. The ultimate objectives of forming, strengthening and capacity building of Self Help Groups shall be to bring the assisted poor families, the target beneficiaries above the poverty line by ensuring appreciable increase in income over a period of time. 

This objective is to be achieved by organizing the rural poor into SHGs through a process of social mobilization, their training and capacity building along with the provision of income-generating assets through a mix of bank credit and government subsidy. The major focus given by SEVAK for organizing its target population into Self Help Groups to  improve the economic development of women and create facilitating environment for their social transformation in the lift of gender discrimination in work and the household.

In order to change the face of socio-economic scenario, micro enterprises and SHGs are playing significant role in the self-employment by raising the level of income and standard of living of rural women. In this framework, one of the most vital aspects of rural self-employment is the formation of SHGs which is a valuable investment in human capital through training and capacity building measures. From dairy to mechanized farming, weaving, poultry, food processing units, mushroom cultivation. 

The group members use collective wisdom and peer pressure to ensure appropriate use of fund and its timely repayment. These are informal groups in nature where members come together towards collective action for common cause. The common need is meeting their emergent economic needs without depending on external help. In the case of SEVAK as well the Self Help Group promotion has proved to build economic self reliance of rural poor, overcome misuse and create confidence predominantly among women who are mostly unseen in the social structure.