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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SEDS: Lending a helping hand in healthcare

Rajen Joshua's compound fracture, in a way, formed the basis of the SEDS Healthcare program. After that, it was a dog who needed stitches after getting into a fight. And then a child who had a bad fall. Soon, the need for healthcare infrastructure was felt and the healthcare program began to develop.

A lot of the initial training was provided thanks to Dr.Ashley D'Cruz of the St. Johns Medical College, Bangalore. Village Health Workers (VHWs) were taught basic healthcare and now form the backbone of the program.

A lack of basic facilities and superstitions used to plague village births. Female infanticide was an issue and even breech deliveries or the occurrence of twin births were considered unlucky, leading to the death of several babies. An important start was to train village midwives.

SEDS organizes health and awareness camps, implements and monitors government campaigns, and operates mobile clinics. With the basic infrastructure already in place, the focus is now on capacity building. The aim is to supplement government healthcare initiatives, till a time when villages can develop and support their own healthcare programs.

[The article originally written by Amit, for SEDS's 30 years celebration. This is simply a reproduction.]