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.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Disha Kathuria: SEDS from the eye of a volunteer (Farm maintenence)

Jasper and I came to SEDS with a single-minded mission - create awareness about the NGO and its initiatives; because to us that's what it seemed to lack. Gradually as we began to spend our time at the farm and understand its workings, we realised that it needed a few repairs internally too. What does that entail, one might ask. Well, it's simple. To run a house, or a company or an NGO, there's one requirment that beats all. Meticulous organisaition or management. And this is what we found lacking. An important aspect that could no longer be ignored. We decided to discuss it with Manil. And she agreed with the loopholes we pointed out. But underlining the problem was only half the work done. An active solution was needed to be put into effect immediately. Jasper came to the rescue with an ingenious plan. He called it the Farm Maintanence Program. 

The best answers are most simple. Simple to devise, simple to execute and perhaps simpler to follow. To help SEDS maximise management, Jasper realised that one must first know all the ares that needed conditioning. The following areas seemed to cry out for such polishing -

1) Farm Vehicle Maintenence 
2) Generator Maintenence 
3) Keys Maintenence 
4) Kitchen Maintenence 
5) Livestock and kennel Maintenence 
6) Driver's Duty Maintenence 
7) Store Keeping and Maintenence 
8) Swimming Pool Cleaning and Maintenence 
9) Overhead Tanks Water Filling and Maintenence 
10) Office Cleaning and Maintenence Organize
11) Office/water/coffee/biscuits 
12) Medicine/Pills/First-aid Kit Maintenance
13) Guest Room Maintenance
14) Stock keeping of Diesel
15) Watering trees and plants

Once the problem areas were recognised, it was followed up by drawing out charts/forms that detail out everything that these departments must undertake to ascertain smooth functioning. Next, we chose a supervisor to represent each department and oversee its functioning. Once we had the charts ready, a meeting with the staff was called in. Here's a glimpse.

Jasper and Manil, informing the staff about the need of the hour.

Jasper explaining to the staff the current state of affairs at the farm and what needs to be done for improvement. In short, each man and woman was informed of their duties and their role as a SEDS's staff member.
Pallavi, an ex-student of Anand Vidyalyam, and the incharge of guest room maintenence seems to have struck a lighter note. 

Roja, incharge of store keeping and maintenence shares her point of view.

The meeting went well. Soon, the supervisors will be handed over the charts outlining their duties. We just hope our endeavour will help streamline such requirements for the future as well.

Photo Courtesy: Disha Kathuria