Environment

1.Sustainable water resources development projects

Maharashtra has been caught in the vicious cycle of drought since last 3-4 years. This has resulted in severe shortages of drinking water in both rural and urban areas. Drinking water was supplied by tankers as a temporary measure. However, such measures are not sustainable in the long run. There has been a continuing dip in water tables over the last five years. The ground water level in some of the districts has gone below 80 metres, which indicates excessive removal of ground water without adequate measure to recharge it.

The indiscriminate use of groundwater for irrigation is unsustainable in the long run. In addition to the drinking water scarcity, scarcity of water and fodder for the livestock is also an issue. Small and marginal farmers whose main source of livelihood is farming are the worst affected. Therefore, there is a need to provide sustainable solution to face the drought in Maharashtra.

With encouraging outcome of Sustainable Water Resources Development Project implemented in 5 villages in drought affected Ahmednagar and Jalna district since last 3 years, additional 5 villages namely Mandavgan, Bhootetakali in Ahmednagar district and Padali, Najik Pangari and Dhoksal in Jalna district were identified for implementing project activity. The project comprised broadening, deepening and de-silting the streams flowing through these villages and was undertaken before the monsoons. Local villagers not only contributed funds but also helped in implementation of the project activity.

4.5 lakh cubic meters of silt was removed from the 5 projects implemented during current year. This resulted in storage of 2580 million litres of water both on surface as well as underground. In these 5 villages, 235 open wells and 132 bore wells were recharged and have sufficient water for drinking as well as agriculture purpose. Most of the agriculture and horticulture crops have recorded higher productivity due to the use of silt and availability of water for irrigation. After a gap of 4 years farmers have cultivated wheat and recorded 15 quintals/acre of productivity. The crop productivity of cotton has also gone up from 5 quintals under rain fed condition to 15 quintals per acre. An area of 1830 acres in these 5 project villages was brought under irrigation benefitting 770 families.

 

2. Decentralised bio-degradable waste management

Praj Foundation in association with Knowhow Foundation initiated decentralised Waste Management Program in 2008 for handling the biodegradable waste generated in Pune.
Last year, our Social Entrepreneurs installed composting projects in 17 institutes and 14 housing societies covering 760 families. Since inception of the project, these social entrepreneurs have installed more than 300 projects in various institutions and housing societies converting 45 tonnes of waste per day.

Education

1.Introduction to Basic Technology (IBT) Schools

Introduction to Basic technology (IBT) programme is one of the pioneering programmes of Vigyan Ashram. Under this programme, students from 8th to 10th Standard are exposed to various life skills through ‘learning by doing’ methodology. The course content covers Engineering, Energy, Environment, Agriculture, Home and Health.

With an objective to upgrade this program, Vigyan Ashram and Praj Foundation created ‘Model IBT Schools’. It also aimed at generating income for IBT instructors and eventually make them Instru-preneur (Instructors cum Entrepreneurs).

IBT schools with proven track record and having committed school management and staff are shortlisted for support. These 13 schools are provided with financial support for infrastructure creation and mentoring and cover 1137 boys and 963 girls spread over Pune, Satara, Sangli, Palghar, Nasik, Ahmednagar, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts in Maharashtra.

The ‘Design Thinking’ approach adopted in the Model IBT schools is shaping cognitive development of the students with ‘Learning while Doing’ methodology making it more pleasurable. Students organised “Scrap Rally” in their villages and collected material which was used for conducting lab practical.

 

 

Community Service is key for sustainability of any IBT program. Innovative and creative projects identified for providing community services have improved the quality of products and variety of services offered to the community. During the year, IBT schools provided community services such as cultivation and sale of fresh vegetables, prepared and sold agriculture tools, furniture, LED lights as per customer requirement. These initiatives have helped in strengthening healthy relation between school and community.

Health

1.Preventive health care for women

Lack of healthy diet and insufficient nutrition are major causes of chronic diseases. In rural India, most health issues are linked to socio-economic conditions and cultural practices related to health and hygiene. Our preventive healthcare programme focuses on improving health status of women through various interventions such as creating awareness through health sessions, promoting kitchen gardens, lifestyle improvement etc.

The program initiated in 2008 in 3 villages covering 250 women in Mulshi taluka in vicinity of Matrix R&D Centre, has spread to 12 villages in Mulshi and Velhe taluka of Pune district and 10 villages in Wada taluka of Palghar district covering 1350 women.

Imparting knowledge on health: Health education is an integral part of the program. During these years, as many as 89 health sessions were conducted in 22 villages covering 950 women. The objective was to improve awareness on importance of nutrition and health. The use of animation films and case studies made the subject more interesting and facilitated early adoption of the healthcare practices.

Nutritional security through kitchen gardens: Kitchen gardens were planted in the backyard by almost 75% of the beneficiaries. They were nurtured using compost while the grey water took care of irrigation requirement. The beneficiaries regularly followed biological, cultural and mechanical methods for controlling pests and diseases. At least 8-10 types of leafy and other vegetables were grown throughout the year. This has helped increase availability of vegetables, thereby increasing the frequency of its consumption in their diet and contributing towards better nutrition.

Nutritious recipe demonstrations: Nutritious recipes demonstration sessions were organised in each of the selected village. Women prepared tasty recipes using low cost, nutritious but locally available ingredients. During the year 80 recipe demonstrations were organised in villages which helped in adding variety and nutrition to their daily food intake.

All these interventions have positively impacted the women beneficiaries. There is a positive trend in haemoglobin levels and other health parameters.

2. Mahila Melava

Programs focused on women’s health (महिला मेळावा) were organised in Mulshi, Velhe and Wada. The objective was to share knowledge and experiences about preventive health care programme and lifestyle changes adopted by beneficiaries leading to improved health.

Over 750 women participated in these programs. During these Melava’s, skits based on information covered during health session were presented by each village level women’s group. Beneficiaries shared their experiences on improved health due to consumption of nutritious food. Exhibition displayed nutritious recipes prepared by them while they explained the nutritional benefits of each of them. Seeds of native varieties of vegetables with high protein content were also displayed and information on these was shared with participants.

Sustained efforts in promoting preventive healthcare initiatives over a period of 8 years have led to very encouraging results.

3. Safe sanitation for rural secondary schools

In India, open defecation is one of the major reasons for numerous diseases and malnutrition among children. Safe sanitation facility is an important prerequisite of schools. Unavailability of toilet facility is one of the major reasons for girls to drop out of the schools.

During the year, Praj Foundation constructed toilet blocks for boys and girls in 3 secondary schools. So far, such 7 hygienic toilet blocks have been built in the secondary schools in Velhe taluka. Awareness sessions for students and teachers on maintaining the cleanliness were also undertaken. The project benefits 373 girls and 834 boys from these 3 schools.