ACTED has been working in India since 2006. Active in vulnerable areas of North East India, in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, ACTED works to facilitate local authorities and service providers in increasing and improving access to information of public schemes and initiatives in backward districts, right down to the village level.
With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is currently the world’s third largest economy. Over the last two decades the country’s per capita income has more than tripled. While these improvements are far from just numbers and graphs on economist spreadsheets, the rising tide has struggled to lift all boats: high levels of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition remain, and the gap between rich and poor continues to increase. Women and girls are particularly affected due to high levels of social exclusion.
Civil society organisations and social enterprises have the potential to tackle these challenges by restructuring local economies to support pro-poor economic growth. Yet, both of these manifestations of civil society lack the capacity to advocate for the needs of their communities or scale-up the solutions which they can offer.
Strengthening civil society to act as a catalyst for positive change
In India, ACTED is working to build the capacity of civil society actors to represent the needs of their communities. In recent years, the organisation’s work has focused on North East India with the aim of improving access to and the quality of public service delivery. The organisation has conducted social audits of key public services and worked with district authorities to draw up action plans to address shortcomings in public service delivery based on their findings. Through building the institutional and operational capacities of these organisations, these bodies are now better able to support the communities which they serve in accessing key public services and entitlements. ACTED’s work has also increased the confidence of these communities, allowing them to approach and lobby government officials to address gaps in service delivery and quality.
Promoting zero exclusion through collaboration between civil society and social enterprises
Looking to the future, ACTED is seeking to take its work with civil society to the next level through linking these organisations to social enterprises in order to co-build innovative solutions to social problems. ACTED’s work in India will focus particularly on fighting the exclusion of women and girls from socio-economic activity.
Through this approach, ACTED will encourage the exchange of ideas and community-level knowledge between civil society actors and social entrepreneurs in order to ensure solutions are context specific and meet the specific needs of Indian women and girls. Furthermore, the involvement of civil society in this process will ensure that solutions provided by social enterprises have the network through which to scale up such solutions and ensure the maximum number of people benefit.