The birth of Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), a voluntary development organisation, in the year 1984 marked the beginning of a journey of empowering the oppressed and marginalised n urban areas, and later in rural areas. Since 1984, YUVA has questioned social structures along the side of the poor, with the aim of empowering them to participate in a process of meaningful change. At the heart of YUVA’s mission lies the conviction that the collective destinies of the human race are bound together. For a genuine, sustainable and lasting social system, sharp differences in income and opportunities must give way to a more equitable distribution. Thus, YUVA has focused on creating access and enabling processes to a gamut of rights and opportunities within the human rights framework for the marginalised and vulnerable sections of the society.
YUVA’s engagements of the last twenty seven years are derived from the Paradigm of Human Rights. The foundation of engagement lies in defending, promoting, restoring and creating the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of the poor, at the levels of both the individual and the collective. The scope of our intervention spans the relationship between the three fundamental and interrelated themes of Poverty, Environment and Governance, YUVA’s interventions can thus be read within the frame of: Poverty is seen as a violation of human rights with recognition that it is structural and that there are social causes that create and perpetuate the impoverishment of communities and specific groups. The theme of environment focuses on issues of quality, equity and sustainability in relation to the development and management of natural resources and infrastructure. Work on governance centers around facilitation of the democratization of power and decentralized access to and management of public resources.
YUVA follows a strategy of balancing its work of securing rights with building assets for the poor. This has been labeled as the People’s Organization-People’s Institution (PO-PI) model. YUVA believes that these organizations and institutions are vital mechanism to enable people to negotiate with the state and market, the two overarching forces in today’s political economy. YUVA believes that people’s institutions are needed to protect existing assets, enhance assets by making them more productive, and create new assets; people’s organizations are needed to protect existing rights, expand existing rights, and create new rights.
Eleven Levels of Intervention
YUVA believes that the process of social change has to be composite while seeking to deal with the root causes of inequity. YUVA has identified eleven levels of engagement which ensure a composite, multi-pronged approach towards the development agenda.
These eleven levels of engagement provide a significant focus to YUVA’s work in urban and rural areas. These are essentially an indication of the nature of roles that a development organization must play in its role as a catalyst, enabler and advocate for addressing concerns of the poor and achieving socially relevant objectives. The following are YUVA’s eleven levels of intervention :
• To build organizations for direct action
• To conduct popular education for building awareness
• To undertake conscientisation through training processes
• To ensure access to basic human rights such as education, health, nutrition, water and energy
• To engage in experiments towards sustainable and people-centered alternatives
• To conduct research aimed at formulating and influencing policy
• To engage in advocacy and lobbying activity aimed at participatory governance
• To undertake documentation and strategic information dissemination in the promotion of the right to information
• To participate in initiating and building networks and alliances for social transformation
• To undertake support and consultancy work aimed at capacity building of people’s organisations and grassroots groups
• To engage in solidarity action, nationally and internationally to highlight people’s causes