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: Technology for rural transformation

What does SEDS have in common with a 25-billion dollar petroleum giant, the largest Indian private insurance company, a pharmaceutical multi-national, and the third biggest steel company in the country?

They are all winners of the Silver EDGE award at Interop, a renowned information technology conference and exhibition held at several global locations every year. Past awards have been given to the likes of Hindustan Petroleum, ICICI-Prudential, Allergan, and Jindal Steel. SEDS is the first NGO, and Manil is the first woman to win this award which recognizes enterprises that use IT effectively to drive growth.

SEDS collaborated with Wolf Frameworks to put a Census Information Management System in place. The system that took just 120 hours to implement, maintains details of thousands of people from the 250 villages that SEDS helps. Using this system, SEDS can track and effectively direct development effort in each of these villages. The technology used also makes it easier for supporting organizations all over the World to contribute to the various development projects in Anantapur.

While Silver EDGE winners usually harness the power of IT to drive their capital inflow, SEDS uses it to nurture a far more valuable resource, human capital.

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