About us

INTRODUCTION

Community Aid Alliance (CAA) Is a India-Australia civil society initiative for linking, learning and acting on sustainable alternatives. CAA is greatly influenced by the development understanding and practice of the former Community Aid Abroad, Australia, which was involved in development support activities inIndia for almost 4 decades. The core activities of the CAA are fundraising for and on behalf of community based organizations, promoting development education and advocating pro-poor policy.

History

The establishment of Community Aid Alliance is linked to the history of the 45 years of Community Aid Abroads involvement in India. Out of this involvement with local partners and communities evolved Community Aid Abroads understanding and practice of community development. From the very outset Community Aid Abroads objective was to work with very poor sections of the communities with a self-help motto, without being directly involved in the implementation of programs.

The focus was on identification, orientation and support of individuals and organisations, which were willing to work on empowering individuals and communities, and building a network between communities. From this experience, it was realised that community based organisations (CBO) were generally facilitated by NGOs, and these CBOs empowered people, keeping them at the centre of development.
These CBOs provided a platform for exploited groups such as traditional fisherfolk, the socially excluded -such as tribal people and dalits, to unite them around issues such as displacement, land alienation, exploitation of traditional forests, minimum wages and bonded labour. Several community based organisations were successful in monitoring implementation of government development schemes. There were also a number of instances of community based organisations influencing local panchayat (council) elections, even having their members elected to represent their communities. Several others had successfully conducted a number of campaigns to ensure basic rights. A major thrust of Community Aid Abroads India program was to facilitate the promotion of these CBOs and much of Community Aid Abroads learning and developmental understanding was achieved through these groups.

CAA practices a development philosophy which states that development process should.

  • Start from the needs of the neediest, so as to reduce inequalities within communities and between communities
  • Foster self- reliance based on participation and control by the people in the community concerned.
  • Encourage a greater sense of community & co-operation and gender equity.
  • Promote the growth of organisational structures, skills and knowledge.
  • Expand a communities resources equitably.
  • Protect and sustain the environment.

THE DEVELOPMENT CONTEXT



An Indian Perspective:

India is the largest and most diverse country in South Asia with a population of more than one billion, a dozen major languages, multiplicity of religions and cultures and varied geographic regions.

About 75% of Indias population live in rural areas and is engaged in agriculture for its livelihood. Small landowners and the rural landless therefore comprise the bulk of the population, although an increasing number are now living in urban areas.

It is estimated that 40% of the population lives below the poverty line resulting in widespread poverty. The poor are disadvantaged economically by inadequate distribution of resources and lack of income, socially through discrimination, and politically by lack of justice and representation. The number of landless and wage dependent households is also growing and now accounts for 37% of the rural population.

India has enormous natural resources and industrial output, yet pervasive power structures and vested interests concentrate wealth in the hands of the elite and a growing middle class. India is indeed a resource rich country with large populations of very poor people!

Yet India is a democracy that promotes local self-governance. Substantial government resources are allocated for poverty alleviation and laws are enacted which are supportive of the poor in areas such as minimum wage and the elimination of bonded labour. The government is also largely supportive of the work of non-government organizations (NGOs) at all levels in the development process.

This official recognition of NGOs also highlights the realization that the high incidence of poverty and unemployment cannot be minimized through the normal process of growth-oriented development, as benefits do not trickle down to the poor. The power structure in rural India places constraints on the poor in seizing opportunities, as the poor do not have access to resources such as land, water, forest and credit. A more direct targeting of the poor is necessary in which non-government organizations, especially community based organizations, can play a vital role.

Hence, the promotion and capacity building of community based organizations is vital for vibrant democratic involvement in the community access and control of resources.



STRATEGY AND ACTIVITIES



The strategy of Community Aid Alliance (CAA) is to focus on empowering community based groups (CBOs) for sustainable development. This empowerment process in the short-term will bring an improvement in the quality of life of people in their present context, and in the long-term aims to achieve economic, environmental and social justice.

CAAs programs will give priority to working with socially and economically disadvantaged communities such as the coastal fisherfolk, tribal communities, dalits and communities dependent on traditional skills and natural resources for their livelihoods. Every project/activity will be assessed for its impact, especially on environment and gender equity.



The activities of Community Aid Alliance (CAA) include:

  • Fundraising for and behalf of CBOs: Raising resources (money, material and human) for community based projects, fellowships and coping with natural calamities;
  • Capacity building for empowerment of community groups: Facilitating issue based workshops and training programmes;
  • Facilitation of linking and learning among community groups in India and elsewhere: Facilitating development education and community to community linkages in India and elsewhere to sensitize them to development issues, responsibilities and solutions;
  • Promoting community based advocacy on issues: Facilitating campaigns on public initiative issues relevant to communities.

Note: Community aid alliance has no institutional links with Oxfam Australia.