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.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Re-using plastic!

From months of collecting plastic bags on campus and storing them in bags, I finally came up with a useful idea I thought would be worth trying.On the 15th  of July we had the first of the few heavy showers we have had for the year and it was a welcome gift from the heat and dry from the first half of the year. So,  for all of us who had to go about our usual daily chores, it seemed like we were in need of something to cover and protect us while allowing us to enjoy our daily routine in the rain.
And I thought about all the plastic collected and wondered if we could turn them into hats and rain coats and shoes! I also came across  this webpage of some designers in South America who made boots out of recycled plastic bags and were quite fashionable and it inspired me to think of simple useful products for the people in rural areas who are really not equipped for the once in a year rains. 
 So, without wasting any time we got to it and made a couple of hats. Initially the girls at the centre were a bit apprehensive but once the samples were done they seemed really excited by them and it encouraged me to seriously want to take this idea forward. So we made a raincoat next. Next in line may be the possibility of making gum boots based on the same idea.

 By working with recycled plastic bags I hope to be able to find an alternative for all the plastic waste that goes into the dumps in our cities and towns. I would really like to target the villages around the SEDS campus, and on the campus itself as a start.

As of now collection for the plastic is something that needs to be looked into on a more defined manner, and using them in more innovative ways. We will look into areas where we can introduce a system of collecting plastic from homes that would otherwise just be thrown  into a bin for the garbage trucks to collect.