Since 2008, SEWAK has been conducting training programs for Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) Members of the districtas district partner NGO (DPNGO) of the State Institute for Rural Development (SIRD), Odisha. The 3-5 day residential trainings are organized on the SEWAK RRC premises at Bandhapali, near Sundargarh district headquarters. Empanelled resource persons, and occasionally officials from district administration teach in these classes following a curriculum developed by SIRD. The curriculum covers topic likeevolution of Panchayati Raj institution in India, democratic decentralization,role of PRI representatives, function, and role of standing committees, co-ordination among elective body and official staff,resource mobilization for grass-root level institutes, transparency,PRIs and rural development and role of PRIs in preparing blueprints for developmental planning and so on. Governmental schemes like, MGNREGS, IAY, SGSY, BRGF and GopabandhuVikashYojana are also discussed in detail.SEWAK’s earliest experience in conducting one similar program dates back to 1998, when DRDA, Sundargarh provided support for training of the then PRI members.

The devolution of substantial power and autonomy to Panchayati Raj Institutions postulates that the persons who are mandated by the people to runthem are fully aware of the scope, extent, and limitations of their authority, and can utilize it in the best interest of the community and people. But this is not so for all cases, as most of the representatives in rural areas have either low level of education, or little knowledge of administrative policiesand procedures, or both. The situation is more desperate for remote and tribal area, where the elected candidates have little experience of administration and politics.

SEWAK has built an impressive training infrastructure at its Rural Resource Center with AC conference room, training hall, gents and ladies hostel, library, and mess. The trainings are usually remedial allowing for interactions and recaps. Informative video-clips exposing the trainees to real-life situations are displayed in the evening sessions. The training organizer who notifies the members of the training schedule by post and over phone, sometimes find it tough to persuade few members from remote areas into joining a particular session. However, the members initially unwilling to come to the training express their satisfaction over the usefulness ofthesession, at the time of their departure.

In 2009 PRI members from Sadar, Tangarpali, Lephripara and Hemgir Block received training at SEWAK, RRC. About 442 members from 65 Gram Panchayats and 4 PanchayatSamitis were covered in the program.

Between May and October 2010, PRI members from the Tangarpali, Lephripara, Hemgir, Subdega, Balishankara, Bargaon, Rajgangpur, Kutra and Kuanrmunda Blocks of Sundargarh district participated in the training programs. A total of 1171 male and female representatives from these blocks were trained by State and District Level Trainers (SLTs/DLTs) paneled by SIRD. They were given boarding and accommodation at the RRC during the tenure of the training.

Block-Wise Participation of PRI Members
Block PRI Members Total
2010-2011 Male Female  
Sadar 84 72 156
Tangarpali 73 42 115
Lephripara 67 53 120
Hemgir 78 40 118
Subdega 61 36 97
Balisankara 63 50 113
Bargaon 81 48 129
Rajgangpur 60 52 112
Kutra 65 78 143
Kuarmunda 32 36 68
Total 664 507 1171