Social Families are cohesive and inclusive community groups of poorest/marginalized and excluded communities, comprising largely Dalits and indigenous nationalities, engaged in all round empowerment activities aiming at collective betterment of the group members. Unlike the traditional “groups” formed by various government human rights / development agencies and NGOs, which tend to focus on specific and micro thematic development areas such as livestock , vegetable production, irrigation, forest, good governance, human rights, etc., ignoring or undermining other aspects of life. The members of social families, like extended family members in a particular VDC or municipality ward, are emotionally attached to one other and share one-others’ joys and sorrows. Social families work together to address multiple dimensions of day-to-day life and function as socio-economic capital in the respective communities.
All SFs are organized around a common motto: “One for all and all for one”.
The social families are based on, and function as a trust, where every member is a trustee. The members have to abide by certain ethical, moral and social values and are also barred from discriminating against women, children and people from other social groups. Thus they ensure the full respect/protection of civil and political rights – the first generation of human rights within and around the SF. SFs are transparent /democratic in decision making and are accountable to their fellow members and communities. The empowered SF members mobilize themselves for different activities such as awareness raising, advocacy, lobbying, etc. to tap/utilize the public resources and capacity development for their socio-economic empowerment. Thus they claim and exercise the second generations of their human rights- the social, economic and cultural rights. In addition to these, in the course of exercising the third generation of human rights, they have also proven themselves in mobilizing human, material and technical resources for building new infrastructures such as foot/mule trails, green roads, school buildings, drinking water systems along with sanitation, etc. through labour intensive and environment friendly techniques. Thus SFs act as a unique entity (both target and medium) in the grass-roots level to protect/claim/exercise all the three generations of human rights.
In many of SAMAGRA’s operational areas the erstwhile Income Generation Groups (IGGs) are transformed into Social Families and eventually they are federated to the registered District Social Families to ensure sustainable socio-political enhancement and to cooperative society to ensure financial sustainability and gain better business opportunities.
The diagram (the triangle BCD) below shows the triangular inter-relationship amongst the local level components of SAMAGRA: (1) Base SFs, (2) Cooperatives and (3) District SFs.
Cooperative run by Social Families
- A component of the campaign for financial mobilization/self-reliance.
- Helps in meeting financial needs of members.
- Promotes financial management skills and good governance.
- Establishes linkages with other financial institutions/resources.
Social Families registered as NGOs
- Represents all Social Families in the district, that coordinate with both SAMAGRA and the district body.
- Supervises, coordinates and supports the activities of Social Families in the district/ region.
- Acts as a district representative of SAMAGRA in its mission for empowerment / advocacy campaigns.
SAMAGRA has envisioned to expand its two-pronged empowerment/development approach implemented through SFs in all the 75 districts in the next 15 years. There will be one “District Social Family” registered in each district which will be launching development activities within the districts independently through SFs in the VDCs. The district SFs are affiliated to SAMAGRA and institutionalized to adhere to SAMAGRA’s philosophy and methodology of overall empowerment/development. SAMAGRA has also adopted cooperative movement as one of the components of its campaign. All the SFs in each VDC form and run a cooperative or get affiliated with the existing one which will help them strengthen SF’s concept of cooperation within the community. They will act as a legally registered local financial institution for mobilizing local financial resources and will help SF members meet their enhanced individual financial need.