ACCORD was started in 1986, by Stan & Mari Thekaekara along with a group of young tribals. ACCORD has taken a holistic approach to the development of the adivasis, which includes education, community organisation, economic development, health, housing and cultural development. ACCORD`s overall strategy is to empower the adivasis to the extent that ACCORD`s role would gradually diminish as the community gains more control over the process of change. ICA supported ACCORD in the construction of a community center in the forest for the tribals. This community center facilitates the tribals to get together for various activities like women`s group related, health camps, training, education etc.
People belonging to the tribes of Panya, Bettakurumba, Kattunayakan, Irula and Mulla Kurumba of the Gudalur Valley used to survive with hunting, gathering and subsistence agriculture. During colonial period, Britan nationalised the forests and vast areas were handed over to tea companies. This forced a number of adivasis, especially the Paniyas into working as bonded labourers for the Chettys – an old farming community. In the late 60`s a number of migrants from Kerala moved in. They enticed the adivasis away from bonded labour system offering wages but entrapping them into a neo-bondage based on debt. Through this they began to appropriate all the traditional lands of the adivasis.
Around the same time the government initiated a resettlement exercise and title deeds were given to many farmers in possession of government land. The vast majority of adivasis were excluded from this exercise. In the 70`s and 80`s came the Sri Lankan repatriates and they started taking away whatever little land remained. As wave after wave of migrants moved into their lands and as government legislation over access to forests became more and more stringent, the adivasis soon found themselves completely at a loss – at the bottom of the heap in a land which once was theirs.
Objectives & Accomplishments
In the area of Community Organisation, ACCORD helped form the now officially recognised `ADIVASI MUNNETRA SANGAM` which is a federation of 167 village sangams; They helped conduct Legal Training Programmes to spread awareness about the legal system among the adivasis; They set up ASHWINI” a health welfare association; They opened an alternative education school.”