SEDS, the Social Education and Development Society, was founded in 1980 by Rajen Joshua and Manil Jayasena as a grassroots development NGO, motivated by the desire to help the poorest of the poor in the drought-prone area of Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh. In the early days, the main focus of the work was on community development by way of non-formal education and small loans to skilled target communities like cobblers, basket weavers, blanket weavers and others.

As Anantapur is the second most drought prone area in India and much of its natural resources are depleted, it soon became clear that environmental problems would have to be tackled first, if peoples’ livelihoods were to be made sustainable. Starting in 10 villages near the small town of Penukonda a scheme of pioneering work was developed which aimed to empower local communities and improve their environment. Initially small nurseries were started for homestead plantations and planting of avenue trees along village roads. Re-a-forestation and more sustainable agricultural practices were introduced. From 1990, SEDS started using a more participatory approach, through the formation of Community Based Organizations. Involving the communities more in the effort made them actual stakeholders in the development process of the region. Throughout the years the scope and area of the work increased and the fruits of the sustained efforts became visible in the greener environment and the enthusiasm of the communities.

Today, SEDS is working through an integrated rural development approach with an emphasis on women’s empowerment, watersheds, re-a-forestation and natural resource management. This is within five Mandals in the southern part of Anantapur District, in south western Andhra Pradesh namely, Penukonda, Roddam, Gorantla, Somandepalli and Chilamathur. In these 5 mandals SEDS currently supports 125 villages, being some 12000 women and their families, 980 Self Help Groups (SHGs), 120 Village Organisations (VOs) & 5 Mandal Samakyas (MMSs) .

Through its sustained efforts SEDS has made a significant impact on the lives of the people in the area and the local environment. The SEDS slogan “Towards a greener tomorrow” has become a reality.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SEDS training of rural youths

One of the projects of SEDS’s education programme is the schooling of rural youth. In order to give them employment opportunities outside the agriculture environment we offer them a wide range of activities from which they can choose.
VTC Penukonda
This year we have eight students, for domestic wiring and for mechanics. SEDS provides these courses free of cost but a registration fee Rs. 100 is charged– so that the students (and parents) will feel themselves inclined to complete the whole course instead of walking away in the middle of the semester. The boys sometimes come from far away to the VTC they reside in the SEDS hostel on top of a hill in Penukonda. There they stay the whole week and receive their meals, also free of charge. The courses in Penukonda will take three months to complete. By then the students will be thoroughly educated in electrical wiring and motor mechanics. The students of the motor mechanics classes get educated in fault finding, electrical wiring of the bike, general maintenance, changing components of the bike and repairs. In the Electrical training courses the pupils learn general things. They see how to repair common household appliances, detect faulty wiring and learn how to wire a house.
The students attend class from nine in the morning till five in the afternoon with a lunch break for one hour. This is from Monday to Saturday, Saturday evening they go back to their villages. After class it is time to relax and what is better than a game of volleyball!

Campus Anandapuram
In Anandapuram the computer and tailoring classes have been running non-stop. At this moment Lilani’s production centre is providing tailoring classes for six girls. They begin their education with stitching on brown paper to learn how to use the machines. After that they get taught in how to take measurements, patterns making and cutting and stitching. They make long Indian skirts(called langas), long blouses, sari blouses, churidars and other women’s clothing. Their training lasts about three months and the girls come from the surrounding villages. Girls who are located further away can go to the tailoring centres in their neighbourhood, see http://sedsngo.blogspot.com/2010/03/tailoring-centres.html.
Above the production centre there is the computer class where momentarily a total of eight youngsters receive training. There are three different courses. First there is basics for the ones who do not know anything about a computer. Here they learn how to type and the basics of handling a computer. This course takes three months. Then there is a Diploma in Computer Application (DCA) where the students receive an introduction in MS-DOS, the operating system and learn how to use all the MS office applications. This course also takes three months. Finally we offer them an extra two months course, Post Graduation DCA where they get a deeper understanding of networking and internet usage.
By providing these classes SEDS wants to give the village youth an additional skill. Employment is scarce in the region and each extra skill they posses can help them in their lives. These skills will not only assist them in their future but also dissuade them from anti-social activities. In this way SEDS hopes to contribute in a non-violent way to support the countrywide problem of the government against disruptive forces of youth joining up with anti social elements and political factions.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Exposure and visits from other organisations

In April SEDS received a visit of the Rural Education & Development Society (REDS) in the program of the Empowerment and Entitlement Coalition (E&E coalition) The E&E Coalition comprises of many civil society groups in India. Each group and organisation in the coalition is involved in different activities in order to build a better India that will provide humanly possible equal and dignified space to all her citizens.


The purpose of the visit was to show the staff of REDS how SEDS is active in its working area. In total 13 people came from all cadres within REDS. The visit lasted three days and the participants got a broad overview of all the activities within SEDS. Because of the nature of the E&E coalition most visits saw our community organisation programs. They attended meetings with our Village Level Volunteers (VLVs) and Village Health Workers (VHWs), saw two of our tailoring centres and the Balwadi centre. In order to see how we work in the villages they went to a Village Organisation (VO) meeting in Thungodu to see the working of our village structures. The last day there was a visit to the VTC, where local youth are trained in electrical wiring and motor mechanics, and the MFC where legal advice is distributed.

Naturally they also saw our natural resource management, the project which constitutes as a major component of all our projects. The development of watersheds in our area is an immensely important aspect of the whole development of our area of work, as without it SEDS believe that sustaianability of programs is not possible without a livelihoods enhancement process.

This was also the reaction of Vibhawari Kamble, consultant with ICCO, who came to visit SEDS from the 20th till 22nd of May. On the first day she was taken to Gonipetta. The village is located between the rolling hills east of Penukonda where farming is a precarious occupation. During a meeting with the VO and some farmers the villagers were adamant that the watershed programme, introduced in 2002 with ICCO/EED funding, has brought the village a lot of relief. The water table has risen considerably, the landscape became greener and as a result of SEDS’ operations in the area, a lot of new Community Based Organisations (CBOs) have seen daylight. Vibhawari showed a lot of expertise in the field as her questions highlighted the different problems communities can face. Education, transport, youth development, employment possibilities, domestic violence, healthcare and general problems the community can face. The people themselves responded and gave her an adequate amount of information. Of course delicate subjects as in the cases of domestic violence will not receive a straight forward answer, but the reply of the women that every man who beats up his wife gets a beating himself shows that they are able to deal with this now.

Other places she visited was a tailoring centre, she saw the tank desilting, visited the VTC and attended a night meeting in Konapuram with the VO and SHGs. For our projects on watershed areas we took her to Thungodu and Sanipalli where she witnessed the first stage of such an undertaking and the astounding result that is only visible after thirty years of hard work.

Both visits, although different in nature and undertaking, fulfilled all the needs and wishes of the participants. REDS was highly interested and appreciative in implementing watershed structures and tailoring centres in its working area. The ICCO representative saw many good points in our work and was quite satisfied with our projects.