Sustainable Community Development
Self-Help Groups (SHGs)
Women in the Tansa Valley generally have little to no education, are reliant on their husbands to support the family and are traditionally not leaders within their villages. The poverty and illiteracy of the region leads to numerous family and community concerns. The creation of self-help groups has allowed women to unite and become empowered to learn new skills and become leaders within their communities.
SHGs help their members tackle the innumerable problems they face, including indebtedness, alcoholism and illiteracy. When individuals come together to form a SHG, they each agree to contribute a nominal sum of money every month to a common pool. PRASAD Chikitsa volunteers then help the group to set up systems and processes to manage their finances, decision-making, and planning, as well as to help them maintain discipline.
SHGs are involved in a range of projects, including running small businesses, improving the condition of roads and schools, organizing village cleanups, promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and accomplishing environmental initiatives.
In 2001, there were 11 PRASAD Chikitsa SHGs in the Tansa Valley. Today, there are 256 SHGs, with more than 2,900 members among them. The success of these SHGs is inspiring more and more women to form their own groups.
Farming is the main livelihood for many people in the Tansa Valley. However, there are numerous environmental challenges, a limited growing season and significant associated costs that made sustaining a family with traditional farming alone difficult. PRASAD Chikitsa addresses this need by educating farmers about a range of issues, including how to increase crop output, conserve water, and implement year-round farming techniques. Since 2012, PRASAD has focused on organic farming and has committed to working only with farmers who pledge to use organic farming techniques.
In 2007, PRASAD Chikitsa Self-Help Groups (SHGs) took the lead in implementing a tree-planting program in the Tansa Valley. The SHGs have planted thousands of trees around villages and schools throughout the region. The trees they have planted are helping to restore the environment. In the case of fruit trees, they also provide food and a cash crop.
Orchard (WADI) Project, Second Crop Initiative
and Kitchen Gardens
With PRASAD Chikitsa’s support, farmers in the Tansa Valley have planted mango and chikku trees – popular fruits that are easy to sell. Amidst the trees, they are also planting cash crops such as colorful marigolds or chamomiles, and vegetables such as spinach, beans, cucumbers, peppers, and squash.
Through our Kitchen Garden project, we have helped more than 10,700 families cultivate small gardens big enough to help diversify their diets with nutritious vegetables and provide a surplus to sell at market, generating income to purchase protein-rich foods to supplement their diets, increasing family food security.
Arts and Crafts Program
PRASAD Chikitsa also helps young people in the Tansa Valley find vocations that are rooted in the local culture. PRASAD began the Kalakendra Arts & Crafts Program in 1998, to preserve the cultural heritage of the Tansa Valley region. It provides the youth with opportunities for self-expression and employment. Since 1998, 155,000 children have participated in the program.
Many of us take access to clean, safe water for granted, yet, in India, the second most populous country in the world, it is estimated that three-quarters of its drinking water is contaminated. According to World Bank estimates, one in five cases of communicable disease in India is attributed to contaminated water. In the rural Tansa Valley, the health of the residents is often adversely affected by waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid.
The situation worsens with the deluge of monsoons, which muddy and further contaminate the water, increasing the possibility of waterborne illness. The impact goes beyond compromising health, livelihoods are also threatened among people who cannot afford to miss a day of work.
Since launching the Clean Drinking Water initiative in 2014, PRASAD Chikitsa has emphasized the importance of clean water and distributed 1,900 water purifiers throughout the Tansa Valley, educating villagers on their proper use. The easy-to-use filters are life-changing, making water, a basic human need and right, safe for consumption.
Sanitation & Wastewater Purification
According to the World Health Organization, more than 2 billion, or 26%, of the world’s population of 7.7 billion live without access to basic sanitation facilities. In rural India, many people don’t have toilets and they practice open defecation, which can cause diseases and put women at risk for assault.
To improve the lives of residents of the Tansa Valley, PRASAD Chikitsa launched the Sanitation Project in 2014. Promoting easy-to-build, environmentally friendly toilets, to date, PRASAD has helped villagers install 895 toilets.
In conjunction with the Sanitation Project, PRASAD Chikitsa is working to purify wastewater. In the Tansa Valley, lack of proper drainage systems and untreated wastewater results in polluted soil and groundwater, contributing to the spread of diseases like malaria.
PRASAD Chikitsa is providing villagers with instruction and assistance to construct soak pits, or cesspools, for hygienic disposal of wastewater, a great benefit to community health.