Where there is so much illiteracy in rural India, how will the people learn about their rights and entitlements and make social institutions responsive and effective?
Nongovernment organizations such as Sehgal Foundation are making it happen. Sehgal Foundation’s three flagship programs are Water Management, Agricultural Development, and Good Rural Governance. All three are intertwined and directly and indirectly address social justice, most particularly the critical issue of gender equality. The programs strengthen community-led development initiatives to achieve positive social, economic, and environmental change across rural India.
WATER MANAGEMENT ADDRESSES WATER SECURITY
India is a water-stressed nation. Managing water resources is foundational to development and key to achieving each of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to address extreme poverty and achieve basic human rights.
Half of the water supply in rural areas, where 70 percent of India’s population lives, is routinely contaminated with toxic microbes and chemicals
According to the World Health Organization:
• 97 million people in India lack access to safe drinking water.
• 21% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water.
Without toilets, washing facilities, or drinking water in schools, children (especially girls) miss out on basic education.
To address the critical need for water security in India, Sehgal Foundation’s Water Management focus is on the collection, storage, and access to safe drinking water. Ex. rainwater harvesting systems to capture water from rooftops and the creation of many small storage structures (lakes, village ponds, wells, check dams).
AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT ADDRESSES FOOD SECURITY
80 % of the severely limited freshwater in India is used in agriculture. Overuse of marginal lands, imbalanced fertilization, severely deteriorated soil health, diversion of agricultural land to nonagricultural uses, depleting aquifers and irrigation sources, salinization of fertile lands and waterlogging all require urgent attention.
Sehgal Foundation’s Agricultural Development program is focused on soil health, nutrient management, balanced fertilization, good seed, management of pests and diseases, and water management—the keys to sustainable agriculture. Educating and engaging women farmers are essential in this process.
Good quality-improved seed is critically important to crop yield. Sehgal Foundation is committed to finding improved varieties and hybrids that will give high yield.
SOCIAL JUSTICE IS THE GOAL OF GOOD RURAL GOVERNANCE
The rural poor in particular are often not even aware of their entitlements and rightful portions of certain programs therefore keeping them away from the benefits.
Sehgal Foundation’s Good Rural Governance program has a two-pronged strategy to deal with these challenges while understanding the development must be community led and there is power in empowerment.
Good Governance Now! is an initiative to empower individuals in the community by making citizens aware of their legal and constitutional rights, entitlements, and accountability mechanisms, so that they can take part in their own development.
The Strengthening Village Level Institutions initiative works with panchayats and local committees to create and active and involved citizenry who are empowered to create change in their communities. Citizen participation is the key to the democratic process. Change will only come when people demand their rights.
Key to success in this area is the involvement of women in each endeavor. Sehgal Foundation has committed to engaging at least 50 percent participation of women in each governance initiative.
For further details, email: [email protected]
Our website:- http://www.smsfoundation.org/