Gram Vikas founders came to Orissa in the early 1970s as student volunteers with the Young Student's Movement for Development (YSMD), Chennai, to serve victims of a devastating cyclone. Under the leadership of Mr. Joe Madiath, the extensive activism and relief work by these volunteers over next 8 years motivated them to create and form Gram Vikas, which was registered as a Non-Profit organisation on January 22, 1979.
After its inception, Gram Vikas started by focusing on education and awareness, secure sources of income, improve health and living conditions of the tribal communities. Interventions and work with these communities led to The Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP). The campaign to recover mortgaged land was a major step both in the history of Gram Vikas and in the tribal people's life. In addition to interventions in these areas, we started a campaign for Community forestry, encouraging people to plant fuel, fodder, fruit and timber species over all private and common wastelands. In collaboration with the National Programme for Wasteland development, over 10,000 acres of wasteland were regenerated between the years 1985-1996. Further, Gram Vikas assisted communities to obtain legal titles over the revenue wastelands regenerated and protected by them
In Parallel to The Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP), the other significant programme intervention of Gram Vikas was in the area of "Biogas". In the initial days of its operations, the organisation noticed the threat to the forests in the vicinity due to indiscriminate cutting of trees, both by the locals and by timber traders. This is when Gram Vikas stepped in and decided to take the biogas technology to the rural communities as an economical alternative means of energy. By the year 1983, even the Indian government took up the promotion of biogas through the National Biogas Development Programme across India. Between the years 1984 and 1994, Gram Vikas constructed 54,047 plants in over 6,000 villages spread over 13 (undivided) districts of Orissa, including the tribal dominated districts such as Ganjam, Koraput, Sambalpur and Mayurbhanj. These plants, during the period accounted for about 80% of the biogas plants in Orissa and about 4% of the plants in India. From the year 1994, Gram Vikas started the process of spinning off the biogas programme by leveraging the capacities of our supervisors and trained masons to turn into independent turnkey operators and entrepreneurs. In a survey conducted by us in the year 1997, we found that 82% of the plants constructed by Gram Vikas were still in operation.
In the area of rural Social Housing, Gram Vikas has provided financial and technical support for building permanent, disaster-resistant houses. The houses are designed such that toilets and bathing rooms can be built alongside each house. Gram Vikas also provided training, technical guidance, masons and support for bulk purchase of building materials. The housing finance activity evolved over the past two decades from a full grant approach to a loan approach.
In the early '90s, we realized that the overriding problem of rural communities was health. This realization formed the backbone of the Rural Health and Environment Programme of Gram Vikas. Through RHEP, we began by dealing with the immediate problem of hygienic sanitation practices. We started by building toilet and sanitation units, which was a difficult concept for rural communities to accept. We started in a small way in five pilot villages covering 337 families, building on the credibility of our interventions till then. We scaled our programs year on year and by the end of March 2014, 75,087 families in 1250 villages have been covered (from the year 1992 to 2014).
Since 2004, Gram Vikas strategized its approach - MANTRA (Movement and Network for the Transformation of Rural Areas), which defines the strategic orientation that Gram Vikas has chosen to adopt, seeking to unify the parallel approaches being followed in the Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP) and the Rural Health and Environment Programme (RHEP). It is an approach towards holistic and integraged rural development in different states across India and few countries in Africa.
VISION & MISSION
To build an equitable and sustainable society where people live in peace with dignity.
To promote processes which are sustainable, socially inclusive and gender equitable to enable critical masses of poor and marginalized rural people or communities to achieve a dignified quality of life.
Understanding key terms in the Vision and Mission Statements:
What do we mean by Community?
'Community' is defined as a group of families living within a defined geographic area. This group is governed by social, cultural, economic and political bonds or norms. Gram Vikas works at the 'community' level within these boundaries to initiate processes that are socially inclusive and gender equitable. The 'community' has a critical role to play with regard to engaging with the State. In Orissa's context, the members of the Palli Sabha comes closest to Gram Vikas' definition of a 'community'.
What do we mean by dignified quality of life?
In our perception 'dignified quality of life' of people or communities would be characterized by:
A minimum or 'threshold' level of quality of life is essential for communities to be able to govern themselves - politically, economically, socially and culturally, and achieve what is rightfully theirs, both from the State and the Market, in a sustainable and self-perpetuating manner. 'Communities' having reached a 'threshold quality of life' must be able to bring their energies together to form 'critical masses' to be able to bargain with the Market and the State, for effective returns and for demanding their rights.
What do we mean by 'critical masses'?
'Critical masses' are defined as groups of 'conscientised' people who have developed pressure-group mechanisms and democratic governance systems within their own communities. They draw strength from such experiences and encounters and develop sufficient strength to bargain with or influence their external environment. They collectively demand their rights and are capable of bringing about changes that they desire. Critical masses are sought to be energized from the village level through Gram Panchayats, upto the state level. 'Critical masses' are driven by quality as well as quantity, signifying that they are contextually defined, comprised of physical numbers, but also effectiveness and strength. Critical masses are sought to be energized from the village level through Gram Panchayats, up to the state level. 'Critical masses' are driven by quality as well as quantity, signifying that they are contextually defined, comprise of physical numbers, and are effective and strong.
2014 Bihar Innovation Forum-II : Gram Vikas has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence and 1st Prize in recognition of its innovative work in the area of Aceess to Service on 31st January 2014 at Patna.
2013 STARS Impact Award - 2013 : Gram Vikas is selected as a 2013 STARS Impact Award Winner in the category of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).
2012 Gram Vikas' MANTRA Programme was chosen by the GLOBAL+5 Selection Committee among the projects submitted for GLOBAL+5 and won the Grand Prize.
2012 Think Leadership Award 2012 : Gram Vikas is selected for the Think Leadership Award instituted by The Times of India & Tefla's for an organization that has emerged as a role model for others by motivating people for the socio-economic development as well as promotion of peace and social harmony.
2012 Corporate Odisha Award 2012 : Gram Vikas is selected as one of the 10 Recipients of the "Corporate Odisha Award – 2012" for Local Business Leaders/Entrepreneurs for their outstanding performance and Exemplarary Leadership Skills.
2012 Top 100 Best NGOs - 2012 : Gram Vikas is selected as one of the Top 100 Best NGOs ranked by The Global Journal-2012, recognizing the significant role of NGOs as influential agents of change on a global scale.
2011 Best Social Worker Award – 2011 : Vivekananda Institute of Social Work and Social Sciences (VISWASS), Bhuabneswar awarded Dr. Madiath with Best Social Worker Award – 2011.
2010 Lok Mitra 2009-2010 : The common people of Orissa, conferred their LOK SAMMAN for the year 2009 on Sri. Joe Madiath, Executive Director, Gram Vikas for his long 40 Years of dedicated service in Socio-economic Development of the Rural Poor.
2010 Water Award 2009-2010 : Gram Vikas has been awarded the "Best Water NGO - Water Supply" for outstanding contribution in the field of Water in India on 9th January 2010.
2007 Mr. Joe Madiath, Executive Director of Gram Vikas has received the JISSR Awad for his Lifetime Achievement in the field of Social Enreprenuership and Empowering the poor, from Jayadev Institute of Social Sciences and Research, Bhubaneswar on 08/10/2007.
2007 Skoll Award : Gram Vikas is one of the 10 organizations who have received the 2007 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship for its objective to bring water and sanitation to 100,000 families by 2010.
2007 Gram Vikas has been awarded the India NGO Award and received the title of NGO of the Year -2006! The National Winners were announced at the Awards ceremony on March 1st, 2007, in Delhi. Gram Vikas and PRADAN, New Delhi were declared joint winners, receiving the title of "NGO of the Year 2006", a trophy and a prize money of $ 15,000 each
2006 Ashoka Changemakers Innovation Award Competition : "How to Provide Affordable Housing" awarded to the top 3 winners by voting of On-line Community and one of the TOP 3 Winners is Gram Vikas. The Changemakers Innovation Award includes a cash prize of US$5,000 for the top three winners.
2006 Ashoka Changemakers Innovation Award Competition : "How to Improve Health for All" awarded to the top 3 winners by voting of On-line Community and one of the TOP 3 Winners is Gram Vikas.
2006 The Kyoto World Water Grand Prize awarded on 22nd, March 2006 at the 4th World Water Forum at Mexico addressing critical water needs of communities and regions of Orissa.
2006 Dubai International Award : MANTRA (Movement and Action Network for Transformation in rural Areas) was selected as a Best Practice by an International Independent Jury for the Dubai International Award for Best Practices in the year 2006 for its outstanding contribution towards improving the living environment.
2005 Social Lifetime Achievement Award at the Godfrey Philips Red & White National Bravery Awards 2004-05 to Mr Joe Madiath, Executive Director, Gram Vikas
2004 World Bank Development Marketplace 2003 funding in collaboration with CTx GreEn, Canada for a project for development of carbon-neutral biodiesel-fuelled energy systems to enable the delivery of new energy services to remote, adivasi villages
2004 UN-Habitat Award : The Rural Health and Environment Programme of Gram Vikas was selected as a Good Practice by the Un-Habitat and Dubai Municipality for the year 2004.
2003 Laureate in the Economic Development category of the Tech Museum Awards 2003 for the community managed Vertical Shaft Brick Kilns, awarded by the Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, California.
2003 World Habitat Award 2003 for the Rural Health and Environment Programme awarded by the Building and Social Housing Foundation, UK.
2001 Most Innovative Project Award 2001 from the Global Development Network of the World Bank for the Rural Health and Environment Programme.
2001 Joe Madiath, Executive Director, Gram Vikas, selected Outstanding Social Entrepreneur 2001 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Geneva
1998 Dr. K S Rao Memorial National Award to Mr Joe Madiath for outstanding Lifetime contribution to the Development of New and Renewable Sources from Solar Energy Society of India.
1996 1996 Allan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award from Brown University, USA for efforts towards prevention and reduction of world hunger.
1993 K P Goenka Memorial Award from the Asian Cables Foundation for significant efforts in renewable energy technologies
1990 Award from DNES, Government of India for contribution towards popularisation of biogas in the voluntary sector
1986 Prakruti Mitra Puraskar (Friend of Nature Award) from DSTE, Government of Orissa
Water & Sanitation
Our water and sanitation programme addresses the root of why rural populations in India remain impoverished. Most rural communities lack access to clean water and sanitation facilities and are therefore more prone to disease and thus demoralized and unable to defeat the cycle of poverty. The water and sanitation programme at Gram Vikas links common health concerns to poor sanitation and empowers communities to construct, manage and maintain their own sanitation facilities and launch development initiatives that improve community health and quality of life.
Gram Vikas mobilizes, educates and trains communities on how to construct, manage and maintain their own sanitation facilities. As part of the programme, community members pool resources to construct identical toilets and bathing rooms for each household, with clean piped water from a community-constructed water tank. The programme awakens the community's ability to independently sustain their own sanitation network through cooperative contribution and management systems such as financial training, construction skill building, and hygiene education workshops. Equitable financial and institutional mechanisms ensure that all families have access to sanitation facilities. A core fund (also called corpus) is established that plans for the future growth of the community by collecting an average of Rs. 1000/- per household, which is invested for future expansion of the sanitation system to deliver water and sanitation services to new households in the village.
The current social structure in many villages does not enable all community members to access clean water. To address this challenge and ensure universal access, Gram Vikas transforms the established social order making it mandatory that all households are included in the programme and that the female heads of households are involved in the decision-making process. The practice of 100 percent inclusion keeps villages clean and eliminates sources of water contamination as each and every member of the village is involved in establishing, maintaining and benefiting from the sanitation system. The policy of 100 percent inclusion is the first step in breaking down caste and gender barriers and allowing the marginalized to regard themselves as equals within the community. This development process is based on MANTRA governance programme's values of inclusion, sustainability, cost sharing and social and gender equity.
Clean drinking water and access to sanitation has resulted in over 80% reduction in incidences of waterborne diseases. A healthy community and habitat acts as a catalyst for sustainable development. Our Impact Assessment studies also suggest behavioural changes in communities with respect to hygiene and sanitation and increased involvement of women in decision making.
The majority of tribal communities that Gram Vikas' works with are un-electrified. To bring 24-hours of piped water supply to un-electrified villages, water from perennial springs are harnessed and diverted through pipelines, from as far as five-six kilometres. Principles of gravity flow and siphoning are used to traverse over small hills to ultimately reach a storage tank in the village and from there, to individual homes.
Gravity flow design for water-supply systems requires zero operating energy making the project financially attractive and easy to maintain. Another method that is used is called "Induced Gravity flow". This method involves harnessing the topography and natural gradient of the area, identifying a suitable location for a water source at a higher elevation from the village.
Intensive work has been carried out by our organisation in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for rural communities and regular training for continous skill development. We have trained & motivated villagers to enhance their income sources through alternative livelihoods such as fish farming, horticulture and livestock development. We have also facilitated skill development of village communities in sustainable natural resource management through community forestry, horticulture, land development and water conservation through the medium of self-help groups and small community businesses. Recently, we have been training thousands of rural youth on various skills construction related skills such as masonry, wire-bending, stone dressing, carpentry, plumbing, electrical fittings, painting trades.
Gram Vikas has facilitated both financial and technical support for building permanent, disaster-resistant houses for tribal and rural communities. In the past, we have helped communities access loans from Housing Development Finance Corporation, Mumbai and Stichting DOEN Foundation, for the construction of low cost houses. We also provided training, technical guidance, masons and support for bulk purchase of building materials. Our social housing involves people at each level and they spend a considerable amount of time collecting materials and contributing labour towards construction of the house.
Due to the substantial impact in the space and after persistent efforts in lobbying with the state and para-statal institutions, Gram Vikas was recognised by the state government as the nodal agency for propagation of the 'credit-cum-subsidy' housing programme. Operationally, In the plain regions, houses are made of brick and cement, with filler slab concrete roof. In inaccessible areas where cement cannot be transported, GCI sheets or tiles are used for the roof. In hilly areas houses are built with locally available stone. As a rule Gram Vikas promotes construction of houses with toilets and bathing rooms alongside each house.
Most recently, Gram Vikas partnered with Orissa State Disaster Management Agency (OSDMA) as their socio-technical partner to build disaster resilient houses for cyclone "Phailin" impacted beneficiaries. The program is known as Orissa Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP) and is the largest project of its kind in India and possibly the world. Over 22000 houses are being built in the worst impacted districts of Orissa over a 2 year period time via Owner Driven Construction of Houses (ODCH) methodology.
Lack of access to safe drinking water is a major cause of ill health and loss of productivity in impoverished rural communities. It is also the principal cause of life-threatening diseases among infants and children. Access to safe drinking water and a healthy living environment are overarching goals that shape Gram Vikas' health development programmes. Gram Vikas works with government Primary Health Centres and follows a threefold approach, which includes preventive, promotive and curative health care services leveraging traditional knowledge in medicines and health practices.
Gram Vikas couples the establishment of sanitation infrastructure with school & community based hygiene education programme. Children that adopt hygienic practices encourage their parents to do the same. Additionally, children who are raised using toilets are comfortable with this practice and help to influence the sanitary practices in the community.
In order to ensure that communities can access government health services, Gram Vikas organizes health camps in cooperation with the staff from the village's primary health centre and other village level health staff in remote regions. As malaria is endemic in many areas of the state, Gram Vikas prioritizes measures against this disease. For example, health committees distribute mosquito nets, promote early blood testing to prevent death, establish drug distribution centres, chlorinate wells and advertise government treatment programmes. Gram Vikas also facilitates government health programs for maternal health care and for immunization through the Pulse Polio campaign. Health Committees in villages also push government officials to provide regular basic health services.
Training and capacity building are core components of the MANTRA health strategy. Local health workers are trained to diagnose illnesses, such as tuberculosis and malaria, and dispense medication for . To increase the safety of childbirth, traditional birth attendants are trained in improved delivery practices. The Koinpur office of Gram Vikas is an authorized centre for testing of Tuber Culosis under the Rev National Tuberculosis Program, and liaisons closely with the district Health Department in providing access to TB patients in the area. In collaboration with the Rotary Club of Berhampur, Gram Vikas organizes health camps on a need basis. Vision Entrepreneurs have been trained through a partnership with Vision Spring to provide low-cost spectacles for people with Presbyopia in rural areas.
Access to education is an essential component in an individual's development and a country's economic and social development. Gram Vikas' education programme address the lack of access to education to children. Gram Vikas strengthens government-run schools and establishes its own education centres in remote villages where schools do not exist. Gram Vikas also empowers communities to hold government officials accountable for providing better quality educational services.
During the early days, Gram Vikas helped establish village based schools where there were no schools. With the advent of the government run aanganwadi (village crèches) programs Gram Vikas has shifted its focus to cluster based schools and running residential schools for tribal children.
Gram Vikas education methodology focuses on overall development of children through innovative learning techniques and through activities such as playing, singing songs, dancing and storytelling. Children were provided with a daily hot meal. Ecology classes are held to sensitize & teach children interesting and relevant information about their environment. Over the years, With the government playing an active role in primary education in rural areas, Gram Vikas has taken up the role of building the capacities of government schools & teachers.
Gram Vikas Residential Schools
We operate 4 residential schools where tribal children live and learn together under the care & guidance of teachers in these schools. These residential schools provide free education for girls leading to a significant increase in female enrollment. Currently 4 schools are strategically located in different parts of Orissa: Konkia & Rudhapadar in Ganjam District, Koinpur in Gajapati District and Thuamul Rampur in Kalahandi. The school in Konkia is a matriculation school with classes up to Grade X, while the other 3 schools have classes upto Grade VII.
Gram Vikas started working in the field of Energy in 1986 in the form of Biogas program. Through the program, we installed over 54,000 biogas plants in nearly 6000 villages covering 13 districts. In terms of overall achievement, the numbers make GV the single largest organization under the National Project on Biogas Development (NPBD). This distinction was made possible due to the creation of a workforce of nearly 2000 masons and technicians and their development through conducting of over 700 training programs. This experience is significant in the context of the overall paradigm shift that occurred in rural development, the enterprise model that has been the outcome of this initiative was a pointer to the institutional approaches required for sustainable rural energy development.
Gram Vikas also promoted the Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln (VSBK) as a viable rural industry, especially in traditional brick molding communities, who typically work as migrant laborers. We have also been promoting clean cook stoves. Through this program, Gram Vikas helps thousands of villagers to organize themselves to solve a wide range of social and health problems. With the help of various collaborations we have undertaken community based Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) systems for village lighting and water supply. Many villages have been provided with electricity and piped water supply through such systems all over Odisha.
We also promote micro hydro as a cost-effective option for decentralized rural electrification by building the capacity of local village youths and technicians to design, fabricate and manage community or regional micro-hydro systems. Gram Vikas has implemented five community-based micro hydro projects in the villages of Kalahandi district.
Gram Vikas has implemented Village Level Biodiesel (VLB). VLB comprises a package of village-scale technologies to extract oil from locally available oil seeds, and to refine oil, ethanol and biodiesel. A purely entrepreneurial model of interlinked businesses, farmers' cooperatives and women's self-help groups is being promoted. Strengthening of SHGs is an important precursor as they play a very important role in local buying of seeds and selling of oil.