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: Sustainable engagement for sustainable living

Take a walk to the play area in front of the SEDS office, and you may catch the dogs Zizu and Bacchi at their favourite game. The two boxers love playing with the see-saw and the enthusiasm with which they pull and push the seats has to be seen to be believed.

Balancing the demands of a rapidly growing society against the need to sustain our natural resources is no easy task. On one side, the mounting demands of an urban-industrial lifestyle always threaten push resources right down to depletion. SEDS is tipping the balance towards sustainability and conservation. Watershed management and tank de-silting replenish the water. Sustainable agriculture and vermiculture preserve the soil. Reforestation and clean development cleanse the air.

By training and involving the people of the villages in the areas around Penukonda, SEDS ensures that development is participative and continuous. SEDS brings the expertise and implementation strategies to essential areas and to programs that are on par with conservation at the highest levels the World over.

All aimed at maintaining the delicate balance of sustainable development.     

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