Among the Halpati tribe of Gujarat’s Navsari district, health challenges of addiction, malnourishment, maternal, and infant deaths were commonplace. Observing these problems, the Regional Commissioner of Municipalities, Bhavnagar, Shri Tushar Dalpatbhai Sumera decided to initiate an innovative project ‘Ek Shaam Halpati Parivaar Ke Saath’.
Mr. Sumera is a 2012 batch IAS officer who also received the Dr. Kalam Innovation in Governance Award 2019 for this initiative under the Healthcare, Sanitation and Nutrition category. The project was recognized for its innovative use of key actors from the same community and village while also reaching a major chunk of the population through its socialization initiatives.
Community engagement – A key solution
‘Ek Sham Halpati Parivaar Ke Saath’ was undertaken to address various health issues faced by the Halpati Tribe that lives in the South Gujarat region. The project started with the entire team of Class-I officers of District Panchayat Navsari visiting Halpati areas in various villages of the district. Thereafter, de-addiction and health check-up camps were organized, presided by the Health Department of the district Panchayat.
The addicted people were identified and counselled daily. Street Plays regarding de-addiction were also conducted. Halpati women were financially integrated and involved in livelihood projects through formation of SHGs and youth were engaged by creating Youth Clubs in the villages. The community members were also enrolled in government schemes for their welfare.
Finally, all the officers would sit down and eat with Halpati Families. This programme used to happen as frequently as twice a week.
Subsequently, a major livelihood project has been planned for the Self-Help Groups (SHGs) that were formed during the events. Under this project, local ponds will be given on lease to these groups for inland fishing as a follow up of the ‘Ek Sham’ project.