CASA as we know it today was born in 1947 as an expression of Christian concern for human suffering in the wake of disturbances which followed the partition of the country into India and Pakistan. Earlier, CASA was a Committee on Relief and Gift Supplies (CORAGS), In 1967 it emerged as the Christian Agency for Social Action. It’s name was changed to Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action, in 1972. In February 1976, CASA was converted into an autonomous registered voluntary agency. Till late 70’s CASA was a relief organization however the early 80’s saw a marked shift from pure Relief to Relief & Development. In the 90’s CASA’s thrust has shifted from “project” to “process” and from “need based approach” to “issue based approach.”
“CASA’s Vision is inspired by the Christian Faith and values. CASA visualises a society in which peace, justice and equality prevail and wherein all citizens – irrespective of caste, creed language and religion – live in peace and communal harmony. CASA also envisages a society where the poor, the marginalised and the under – privileged have equal opportunity for their involvement in the development process which is value based and sustainable and also have an appropriate environment to develop their fullest potential”.
“CASA actively supports and works towards a just and sustainable society by creating conditions for meaningful and disciplined involvement of all people and their organisations, in the development process which is based on micro approach and involves networking of the organisations at various appropriate levels. CASA also responds to human suffering and distress caused by natural or man-made calamities, in a manner which upholds the dignity of the affected people and enhances their capacity for disaster mitigation and management of the programmes which are in accordance with development principles. In doing all this, CASA
strives to optimise all potential from within the organisation, as well as, its reference community and other partner organisations.”
1. To facilitate empowerment of the poor irrespective of caste, creed, language and religion.
2. To ameliorate the sufferings of the down – troden, marginalised and the weakest sections of society.
3. To bring about a change in the lives of people by involving them in this process of change.
4. To strengthen grassroot capacities by building confidence, problem solving capacities, resilience and skills among local people.
5. To ensure people’s involvement in developing a society wherein peace, justice and equality prevail.
CASA is today operational in almost all States and Union Territories of India through its 4 Zonal and 14 Sector offices having a working strength of more than 700 people.
Health, Women, Children, Education, Rural Development, Socio-economics Development, Net-working, Tribals, Awareness Generation.
These programmes, directly implemented, reflect CASA’s philosophy and understanding of development issues and are operationalised in pursuit of the overall Mission and Vision of the organisation.
1. Improvement of Educational Facilities in NEI – supports schools building and hostel construction and renovation in remote and inaccessible areas for the tribal children. The local community contributes 25 percent of the total resource requirement.
2. The Calcutta Slum Development Programme – initiated as a relief operation provides substantial services and builds capacities of the people in slums of Calcutta.
3. Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu Disaster Relief and Capacity Building Programme – initiated during the 1977 cyclone the programme is operational in 243 coastal villages. It promotes self reliance of people’s organization and networks them for collective action on issue of concern. The program has a sharp focus on “empowerment” through community based disaster preparedness and human potential enhancement.
4. Food for Community Development Programme – serves as a very important tool for providing food to the deprived communities and simultaneously develops assets and community infrastructure at the field level in drought prone areas.
5. Food Security Programme – aims at meeting food security needs at the individual, family and community level through ensuring continuous access to food by the people. The program is operational in tribal areas of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
6. The North East India Development Programme – is operational in 5 North Eastern states at 22 locations and covers 491 villages. The programme works for consolidation of village level organisations, district level committees of people and NGOs. This has initiated actions and research on important but unique local issues. It enhances women’s participation in decision making process, facilitates building and strengthening of existing village leadership; networking of village organisations, and promotes and strengthens co-operation and networking amongst voluntary organisations in the north-east.
7. Maharashtra Earthquake rehabilitation Programme – initiated after the Maharashtra earthquake is being implemented in 8 village of Latur and Osmanabad districts. Besides construction of houses, the program also focuses on total social economic rehabilitation of the people.
The programmes of CASA are undertaken with the close co-operation of its constituencies i.e. the people, NGO’s Churches & Government at various levels.
Partnership of CASA with other NGO’s is based on an understanding that the goals, objectives and methods employed will be based on an equal relationship, mutual openness, transparency and respect for the general conditions and framework in which each partner is working.
In this cooperation model, CASA takes on the role of a development promotion organisation that enables and assists a group of NGOs in their effort towards participatory and sustainable-development based on justice and equity.
The co-operation aims at working collectively in a contiguous area on issues combining development activities at the grassroot level as well as concerted efforts to address issues at a wider level. Facilitating a process of democratic planning and decision making thereby enabling the people to become the owners of their efforts is the key to this association.
Creating local forums and platforms of people’s organisations for discussion and sharing of experiences to lead to joint action planning and building up of networks in deprived areas is another dimension of the partnership.
The partners in the on going three packages setup a forum constituted by representatives from all Project Implementation Organisations (PIOs) as well as representatives of CASA. The Forum is the vehicle for collective accountability through monitoring and continuous review and feedback. These fora decide about initiating actions beyond the programme areas on issues of common concern.
- The package programme in Rajasthan for instance is operational in the districts of Jaipur, Sawaimadhopur Jodhpur and Udaipur. The partners, in addition to their planned specific interventions, collectively intervene on the issue of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment through involvement in pre, during and post election phase.
- The involvement ranges from information dissemination during the pre-election phase to training and skill development of the elected representatives during the post election phase.
- The package in Bihar and Orissa addresses the issues of tribals – land, water forest and gender. The forum is beginning to specify the issues within the broad areas identified by its members.
- The package programme in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh has 14 partners of which 6 are in H.P. and 8 are in U.P. The planned activities carried out are related to promotion of agriculture and social forestry, promotion of income generating activities, community organisation and capacity building. Special focus of the intervention is on Women’s empowerment and the 73rd Constitutional Amendment. A MOUNTAIN FORUM, has been constituted by the PIOs.
- The package programmes in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have 15 partners each working in the tribal areas. The partners have come together to work collectively on the issue of loss of tribal identity. The partnership addresses issues related to land, forest, water and gender in the context of tribal community. A forum has also been created by the partners in each state.
A new package programme in Rajashtan has been initiated which has 18 partners working collectively focusing on the issue of Natural Resources Management.
Issue Based Intervention
In addition to its direct and partnership programmes, CASA’s intervention on issues of contemporary relevance is beginning to catch up with its mainstream activities. These programmes, implemented directly and in partnership, are in line with CASAs philosophy and the overall Mission and Vision of the organisation.
Ever since the country’s constitution was amended the 73rd time, CASA has been in the fore front in taking up activities related to the new Panchayati Raj Act. In line with CASA’s policy of empowering people, irrespective of sex, caste and creed, the Act provided ample opportunities for the organization to take-up awareness and policy-related interventions on the subject. This it has done effectively from holding national level consultations to organising village-level meetings.
Gender Justice has become one of the underlying principles of sustainable development. In all programmes areas of CASA, women are organised at village, cluster, regional and state levels to form forums and federations for collective action. The activities are initiated which lead to restoration of women’s self image, enhancement of their confidence, providing them with space to come together as a group giving them access to credit and markets, building their abilities to handle finances, ownership of productive assets, resistance to exploitation and bargaining for gender equity.
The unjust social order has led to a socio-economic divide based on caste and class. A majority of women, children, tribals and dalits are marginalised and oppressed, their very right to survival with dignity is at stake. Protection and promotion of their rights form the crux of CASA’s intervention on Human Right Issues. The activities include legal literacy and legal aid camps in order to create access to justice for the poor.
CASA involves the people, churches, partner agencies, government bodies and like minded individuals in the struggle. Social mobilisation is done through mass programmes like rellies, dhamas on critical issues identified. Lack of minimum wages, social evils like alcoholism, child labour, violence against women, exploitation of labour, food security as human rights are some of the issues on which collective action is currently being facilitated.
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