Man on a mission



Gomeshri Munda of Ulatu village, Namkum block, Ranchi district, Jharkhand, a seemingly ordinary small farmer, single-handedly mobilized the women of his village in 2007 to form self-help groups and save at least INR 5 of their hard-earned money instead of wasting it on ‘hadia’, locally brewed alcoholic beverage. The groups are functional to date. Gomeshri went on to get associated with the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) as an Ajeevika Krishak Mitra (community level agriculture extension agent).


Gomeshri Munda with his wife and Son




Gomeshri was trained on providing extension services and disseminating information on preparing organic compost, fertilizers and pesticides, and other community managed sustainable agricultural practices by the JSLPS team.


Like the other AKMs, Gomeshri was trained on disseminating best practices through videos to self-help groups, when JSLPS collaborated with Digital Green to implement the video-enabled peer to peer learning approach. His disseminations have gone down well with the villagers. Through the videos, he is able to explain best practices to the women easier and faster.


Excessive use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers had eroded the fertility of the soil in Ulatu village. With the community adopting practices like preparing and using organic compost and pesticides, the land’s fertility is slowly getting restored. Over the next five years, Gomeshri wants to completely eliminate the use of commercially sold chemical pesticides and fertilizers in his village. He dreams of his community steadily progressing on the path of social and economic empowerment. 


Strengthening Existing Partnership


Our partnership with Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (BRLPS) locally known as JEEViKA was recently extended for another year. This was an opportunity for us to extend our support to new verticals within our partner organization.


We started working with the Institutional Building & Community Building Team (IBCB) of JEEViKA, which seeks to ensure greater involvement of the community to build village and cluster level institutions. They are the first entrants in a new area so that self-help groups and other such institutions can be formed through mobilization, awareness and training. The idea envisaged creation and dissemination of information related to the processes and norms of institution building in a more effective manner to empower the community and its grassroots institutions.

To conceptualize and implement this plan, we organized a two-day training programme for IBCB Managers and Training Officers at Patna on the 14th and 15th of October 2015. There were 27 participants at this training programme who look after the IBCB operations and capacity building at their respective districts.



















We started the training by explaining the DG approach and the evolution of our partnership with JEEViKA in Bihar. We used the new training module that we use to explain our approach called Pico Seekho (learn to operate pico), which covered the basics of video production and dissemination, and some videos on non-verbal communication, which proved to be very engaging for the audience. We also shared the current status of videos produced, disseminations and adoptions and the goals ahead, which was in line with the project goals envisaged by IBCB team of JEEViKA. We also focused on IBCB videos that had been already shot and how they would be evaluated in terms of the success of adoption. The discussions were aimed towards improving the quality of videos and processes and eventually making them more interesting and appealing to viewers, and improving adoptions.


The IBCB managers also shared their current roles and responsibilities, which was followed by an interesting dialogue about the possibilities they saw of contributing towards the Digital Green and JEEViKA partnership model. The participants also identified how crucial their role is in this entire process of adapting our approach into IBCB. For sure, they play a crucial role helping the video production team develop the content, approving the storyboards and videos. This sense of ownership among the staff of JEEViKA is crucial for achieving our goals. The participants were quite enthusiastic to learn the basics of video production and photography especially about different ways of framing their shots and photographic rules.


During the course of these two days, we screened four IBCB videos on different topics such as SHG formation, Social inclusion in VO, VO Meeting Process and Sub-committees in VO. The participants were very happy and surprised to see the videos on IBCB topics and on hearing that there are plans for more such content. They were also surprised to know that all these videos were shot by cadre staff (village and cluster level staff deployed by JEEViKA). This helped dispel misunderstandings that Digital Green shots all videos on their own. They understood how Digital Green facilitates the entire process and supports the trained cadre staff whenever required. The participants also got hands-on experience of operating a pico projector, learning its functional aspects.


















At the close of day two, some of the participants shared their feedback using an innovative medium -a video. The IBCB Managers and Training Officers of JEEViKA assured their cooperation to our community-led video production and dissemination processes. They also showed a keen interest in the technology part of our approach and learnt the use of COCO (our online and offline data management tool) and analytics dashboard. The participants unanimously agreed that these videos will reduce their efforts while training the block and cluster level staff also.


















Overall it was a great learning platform for both the participants and our staff where knowledge and information were exchanged. As they say ‘Well begun is half done!’ So hope this partnership will reap sweet results for both IBCB and JEEViKA as well as Digital Green.

All about partnerships

Digital Green works in partnership with a diverse set of public, private and civil society organizations, which requires us to have appropriate skills to handle such partnerships. Sometimes it becomes very tough to deal with partner staff when they treat the collaboration as extra work. We, however, have to focus on achieving our targets within the stipulated time period with quality while working with the partners. That compels us to think of numerous ways in order to accomplish the goals. The particular skills and knowledge may work at one place or with one person but the same can’t be applied everywhere or with everyone. Our staff needs to be equipped with various skills of negotiation and persuasion. I am glad to share some of the learnings I have acquired from the field over the last couple of years as a program manager.

1. Be well-versed with the matter at hand

First impression, they say, is the last impression. With respect to the initial discussion/interaction with partner staff, be sure to discuss topics you have in-depth knowledge on along with the agenda for the meeting. When we first meet a person who has profound knowledge on a particular subject or exhibits effective communication skills, the first meeting has a lasting impact on us and sets the tone for the relationship.

2. Be confident and in control

Try to remain confident and in control even if things are not moving as per your requirement. It is important to establish respect between partners at the outset. In one of our program blocks a partner representative tended to take things lightly and paid less attention towards our work because of some misgivings regarding our approach. Things gradually changed as we continued to engage with him and other staff with confidence. One needs to be cool and calm while situations change around you.

3. Be polite but firm

Being polite is a way to respect people and the most disciplined way to present things even if harsh in nature. Whenever we get respect from the community, we tend to feel obliged. It is respect which makes people feel better and leads to do something in reciprocation.

We also have to keep in mind that we don’t compromise on our decision related to our common targets where there are chances of disagreement. If we continue to put our things rationally and politely, it would help in convincing others to our decisions.

4. Always present your work as part of the collaboration

Highlighting the collaborative nature of the intervention and how our vision and plan is aligned with that of the partners is essential for the partnership to work. It also leads to greater ownership of the intervention by the partner staff and they feel responsible for the execution of the tasks even without constant follow-up. We need to set partner targets as ours. Projecting mutually agreed upon targets brings minds together to plan, strategize and implement better which can reduce time, energy and other resources with outstanding results.

5. Share examples of partner staff’s supportive nature and exemplary work

Cases where partner staff has been supportive and their contribution has led to positive results need to be acknowledged and appreciated at a larger platform. We can also use our data management system to reflect the progresses made in different blocks. This could drive healthy competition within the blocks and the staff’s attention will be drawn to the weak areas.

6. Be patient

We all know that waiting can be challenging, especially when you are supposed to accomplish a task within a time frame. But if we manage not to lose our composure and remain patient, it pays off at last. The same theory applies here while working with partners. We have to be patient even under extreme pressure. Whatever task has to be finished with the help of partner staff needs to be continued. Regular follow-ups can ensure the responsible partner staff executes the task even if s/he tries to shirk the assigned work. Just to avoid being followed up on a regular basis, the task will be finished. The more rigorous follow-ups, the better the results will be.