Thursday, December 30, 2010

Survey on Gender Issues in Sundarbans, by Blanche Mattern

During few days, I stayed in Mukti Office in Nagenderpur. In order to conduct a survey on WATSAN (Water and Sanitation) issues for women, I met Mukti's coordinators and villagers from this Gram Panchayat and Kankandighi one. It was also the occasion to see the working field of Mukti. I met the women of Self Help Group (SHG) who work on exotic birds activities, visited the coconut nursery and the library.
I noticed that the Nerkel project is a really successful one and the idea of planting coconut tree on clay roads was brilliant. Indeed, coconut trees avoid soil erosion and it is the better way to avoid broken clay roads after rain falls for example.
I interviewed families and visit houses. Meetings were conducted with farmers and women SHG. As I am not a Bengali speaker, someone translate for me. I was really touched by the help of Mukti coordinators that help me a lot by organizing the meeting and all my stay there.
Contact with villagers is quite easy as they seem to respect a lot Mukti workers. The organization is conducting a goof work on the area. Mukti is not working in the Sundarbans, Mukti is a part of it.

I was really surprised to see that people do not have problems to express their daily issues. Even if you have to ask to all the men to leave a meeting, women will finally speak easily about their health problem. Villagers are really open to new technologies for example they do not hesitate to show their desire to shift from kerosene lamp to solar one.
In WATSAN issues, women ask private latrines and I was surprised to listen them explaining the side effects of common ones. As I was surprised to listen men explaining why they required the new models of tube well, with a complete picture of all the technical problems of the one they use and the benefit they could get from new models.

I was really touched to hear women answering to my question “what could be for you a development?” by their concern on women health issues, economy increasing in order to let their child study as far as they can. Even when I was speaking about the early age of marriage and first child people answered that marry their daughter too early was not a choice but an economic obligation because of the lake of income. They could not let them at school longer and spend money on education and food. If they get an other choice, they will go for it.
I travelled a lot in India, if you ask this kind of question in rural places you get used to hear that early wedding is the only choice but people can not give you a so complete explanation. Here, you do not have to make understand people, they already knows and get a global view on their daily issues.

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