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Community Health Activism, Kerala
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Subject Area="Community participation." Objective="Community advocacy."
Details for Reform Option "Community Health Activism, Kerala"

Background: The Trivandrum Social Service Society, a community organisation under the Catholic Church, has identified three major issues related to health among coastal fisher folk: (i) lack of toilet facilities creating environmental and social problems (ii) lack of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) education (iii) lack of financial independence among women, many of whom have husbands with a serious alcohol problem. Action: (i) construction of sustainable and hygienic community toilet complexes at several locations along the sea shore. (ii) training young, reasonably-educated coastal women to work as activists (one per 20 families) to help identify and solve MCH and family planning problems and to establish links with nearby government and private health institutions as well as health workers (iii) training women to start a variety of cottage businesses to generate income for them and their families.

Cost Information not available.
Place The coastal areas of Trivandrum district, Kerala.
Time Frame On average one year.

Empowering: Builds community self sufficiency (particularly for the women) and involves community ownership and local decision making. Simplicity: Low cost, simple methods. Speed: Comparatively short time to set up.


Community-dependent: Growth and development can be very slow depending on the will of the community and therefore only suitable for communities who are highly unified and motivated. Opposition: Possible opposition from men in the community who resent the growing independence of the women.


A coordinating body in the community – in this case the Catholic church.

Who needs to be consulted

Local leaders, women activists, school teachers and parish priest.



Self-sustaining as there is a cost-sharing element in the project, which is voluntary but binding on all who are involved.

Chances of Replication

Questionable. Requires community will and coordination.


There are several such projects on the seashores initiated and managed by the people in the area, with the Catholic church as the prime mover and motivating force. Other churches are learning from it and are trying to use these ideas.


Submitted By

Dr. Oommen Philip, Former ECTA State Facilitator for Kerala. July 2002.

Status Active
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