What We Do
CINI Australia supports a number of programs in West Bengal India through Child in Need Institute, India. We are now seeing the outcomes of these highly effective programs that are changing lives.
The programs aim to interrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty and disadvantage. This relies on carefully designed and well thought out programs with sufficient longevity to establish behaviour change and build knowledge throughout the community. They are The Child Friendly Communities (CFC) and IICCHAA programs.
Child in Need Institute, India (CINI) works at the grassroots with local women, community groups, volunteers, government bodies to make full use of skills available locally and keeping costs low. We partner CINI in these projects by providing funds as well as evaluating and monitoring the impact and outcomes. Donors will receive updates and hear about what is happening in India.
The Child Friendly Communities (CFC) build the knowledge and capacity of the community based on the empowerment of local women. By strengthening self help women and adolescent groups and facilitating their collaboration with local government and local services, change then becomes sustainable.
Our first two programs were in the Gram Panchyats of Bangalbari 2012-16 (12 villages) and then Chainagar 2016-19 (13 villages). Seeing the successful development in these Gram Panchyats , neighbouring community and local government representative approached CINI for assistance. In 2019 a new ambitious ” Hemtabad Bock Level CFC program was started in the 5 Gram panchayats of the block area. Success in such a large population area ( about 180,000 people) will require intensive training, capacity building and participation by local government and services in development. It has been built on the experience and learnings from Bangalbari and Chainagar
There have been many changes in the villages. The Women’s Self help Groups have become empowered and informed. They support pregnant women to get good antenatal care and safe child birth. The percentage of mothers having hospital births increased significantly. ‘Drop out” children, girl children, missing children and children in child labour have returned to school. Parents understand the benefits of schooling and are aware of the entitlements available to them . Many young girls have been saved from underage marriage as families now understand the risks to their daughters and the advantages of schooling.
Adolescent groups and training has given young people the knowledge and the skills to speak out against early marriage. By working with the adults, many marriages have been prevented. These young people are developing skills and confidence to take on community leadership.
Women have learned about local sanitation and hygiene. They now have the capacity to negotiate with local government for their needs. Local councillors and other services respect and value the contribution of women who previously had no voice.
Women, families, councils and government are working together to build a path out of poverty.
CINI’s local community and health workers link into womens’ self help groups. CINI focuses on topics of health, education, nutrition and protection. Communities are helped to address child labour, trafficking and family violence issues. Women understand their right to quality health services. Health programs start in early pregnancy and continue through the life cycle. Health, hygiene, feeding practices, nutrition and reproductive health are important for the whole family.
A key component of the program is the facilitation with local government leaders and local government service providers, ( child health, primary health and school). There is a growing understanding of the health, protection and education needs of women and children. Increasingly, women, local services and government are working together. Services are supported to build capacity and local governments are increasing their commitment: politically, financially and materially for building sustainable change. Ultimately CINI’s plan is to withdraw from the project area whilst maintaining some support, so that the community take on the role of driving further change.
The IICCHAA program supports children affected by HIV/AIDS. It builds the strength and knowledge of the family so that they can provide for their children’s future.
When a parent discovers they are HIV positive they worry about how they contracted the illness, their health and what it will mean for the future for their children. Many women are diagnosed at the same time they are widowed. Often they are rejected by their family and community out of fear and lack of knowledge. IICCHAA slowly helps families build their confidence, strength and knowledge. They access regular medication; government schemes for housing and education funds; vocational and leadership training which all help their economic stability. Public education reduces stigma in the villages so people are accepted back at work and children into school. Monthly nutritional packages address malnutrtion which puts those with HIV at risk of progressing too AIDS.
There is enormous physical, emotional and economenic recovery for families reached by IICCHAA. In twelve months they go from despair and hopelessness to strength and optimism about their future.
CINI’s Rights based approach to development aims to encourage active participation and co-operation of community elected representatives, service providers such as doctors and teachers, local self help groups and the women and children themselves to create child and woman friendly communities.
The CINI method of development is rights based and integrates activities in nutrition, healthcare, education and protection in particular geographical areas.
CINI has moved increasingly into a Community Facilitator role.
A result of poor governance and lack of understanding throughout the political system is that much of the unprecedented amount of money being allocated to help the poor by the Government is spent inappropriately or simply never reaches the people who need it. Recognising that this is one of the biggest barriers to sustainable development, CINI runs a number of outreach programs aimed at passing on the benefit of its research and experience to those who allocate and effective advocate for the poor. One of CINI’s main goals is to listen to what poor women and children have to say. It is vital to find out what they need and to ensure that services and money available are distributed in a way which not only makes sense in their lives but also, importantly, means that they are stakeholders in the process and not just recipients of aid. The levels of Panchayat, locally elected representatives, are critical to ensuring that money allocated by the Government is well spent. CINI works to encourage accountability throughout the system and, at the highest level of government, seeks to influence policy. Having built up an excellent reputation and an extensive network of contacts, it is a significant voice and an implement government resources.
Why is Malnutrition so dangerous?
CINIs aims to reach young mothers early in their pregnancy.
At least 43% of Indian children under the age of 3 suffer from malnutrition. Malnutrition is linked to half of the child deaths in India.
A child who is malnourished in pregnancy or in its first two years of life will not reach its full potential. Inadequate nourishment during pregnancy can result in brain damage, still birth or neo-natal death. A child who is malnourished in the critical first two years of life, is at risk of permanent physiological damage resulting in increased susceptibility to illness and restricted capacity for education.
The problems of malnutrition are not only a lack of food. Many families with limited food do not share it equally. Mothers and infants, especially girls, are rarely priorities. Traditionally women eat last; so when food is scarce, boys may receive more than girls; men more than women; older children more than younger children. Diet is affected by both lack of understanding about nutrition as well as availability. For example, less than half of Indian children under six months are exclusively breast fed.
CINI developed the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) where balanced food is provided in small but frequent amounts in order to increase a child’s weight safely over a period of several weeks. This low cost model rehabilitates severely malnourished children. It has also been adopted by various state governments as part of the National Rural Health Mission intervention to reduce severe malnutrition.
This is an example of a CINI model becoming used in Government programs.
Despite India’s impressive economic growth, access to and the quality of healthcare have a long way to go. CINI works to fill gaps in the system by providing healthcare services. CINI operates a series of drop-in clinics at its headquarters south east of Kolkata.
40 million Indian children aged between 6-11 are not in school. Over half of India’s children will not progress beyond elementary school. It costs less than 350 rupees ($10 Australian) a month to support a child in education.
There are many reasons why poor children may not be in school in India. In some cases, they are unable to access education; in others, they are forced to work rather than go to school. Their families often do not value education or may believe that the traditional barriers to progress of caste, poverty and gender are too strong to overcome.
CINI works to identify children who are either not in mainstream education or are in danger of leaving it. It offers bridging courses to enable children who are outside the education system to return to it. Using a network of key workers and counselors who are linked to schools and government, CINI works in local communities to convince families that the benefit of education will, in the long term, outweigh the benefit of the low and temporary wage which a child may earn instead of going to school. CINI also works to overcome forms of social exclusion such as caste and gender discrimination which continue to play a part in keeping children, particularly girls, out of school.
In 2008 alone, 550 children were re-introduced to mainstream education thanks to CINI’s efforts.
For every year beyond fourth grade that girls attend school their family benefit from increased wages by 20%, reduced child deaths by 10% and family size dropping 20%.
Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights
Almost every project CINI undertakes involves education and raising awareness. Health workers are trained to educate women about their health and the health of their children; about how to take care of themselves when they are pregnant and breast feeding; about family planning; the benefit of institutional deliveries; the importance of child vaccination; and prevention of STDs.
Children and families are taught about the benefits of education and adolescents are offered life skills and vocational training courses.
CINI reaches out to government workers at all levels to share its knowledge and help them work effectively in poor communities.
Perhaps most important of all, CINI aims to empower poor women and children by helping them take advantage of their rights and entitlements.
Poor children are vulnerable children
India has the largest population of children in the world but also the highest number of children engaged in work.
These children work not just in sweatshops and domestic service, but also in family businesses, or as carers of other family members. The number of children involved in work which seriously damages their education and holistic development is unknown but ranges from the government’s 12.6 million to civil society estimates of 70-80 million children.
Child trafficking is on the rise. Some children are snatched or tricked by traffickers; some are sold by their families (who in most cases believe that their children are being offered a better alternative) or inadvertently handed over to people who enslave them in child labour or as sex workers.
CINI offers a number of education and protection services to children who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. These services are concentrated in dangerous red light areas and around stations. In these locations, CINI runs a number of temporary shelters, both on a drop in basis and as a half way house, for children in trouble. It then helps them return to their families wherever possible (often counseling the families in question) and does its utmost to re-integrate them into mainstream society.
In partnership with the government, CINI provides a response team in West Bengal for calls to Childline, a 24 hour free telephone helpline which provides intervention and assistance to children in trouble. It is used by adults and police to report instances of child abuse, child labour and child trafficking but also by children themselves. CINI also operates a helpline for teens and for those with HIV/AIDS, offering them counseling and assistance.
CINI works with the police and judiciary to help track down trafficked children and prosecute traffickers.
CINI trains local women and government workers in all aspects of healthcare so that they can work effectively in the field.
CINI Chetana was set up as an independent body in 1974 in response to the need for training. In addition to training over 25,000 government workers and its own staff, it has conducted training of representatives from over 500 NGOs. It develops training materials and offers support to trainee nurses, nutritionists, teachers and Panchayat members of community based organisations.
When cyclone Aila hit West Bengal in 2009, it destroyed homes, crops and livestock. CINI’s relief efforts were concentrated on Moipith Island, a remote area of the Sunderbans region. Between May and August 2009, waterpurifying tablets were provided to 20,000 people; 3000 people were fed by community kitchens and sheeting was provided to build shelters for 1000 people.