Rural Development Hub


Rural development and empowerment -A way forward to build a developed India

POSTED ON:2022-09-16, BY:Dipanjan Das

On my recent visit to Raigad, Maharashtra, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a group of tribal women from Siddheshwar gram panchayat who had started practicing plastic waste management in their hamlets. Their zeal was inspiring, and the sarpanch supported their initiative by engaging with a nonprofit that collects this waste monthly for further management. When I asked them how and why they started plastic waste segregation, they replied, “This is our village; if we won’t, then who will. Earlier, we did not know the hazards of plastic for us, children, cattle and stray animals. When we understood the importance of plastic waste management, we all (women) got together for the betterment of future generations. Although initially, it started with one hamlet, soon, all women from the village joined in.” These tribal women from Siddheshwar have been practicing this for the past eight months and now all community members – youth, children, men, and elderly contribute to plastic waste management. This incident strengthened our conviction that relevant, helpful information and a can-do attitude in rural community members can make rural India thrive and make every Indian village a Dream Village. However, it is a tough road to walk. Until the basics of a quality life – water, toilet, health, education and livelihoods are not met, communities cannot visualize a better life for themselves. Hence, poverty can be both – material and mental. While material poverty is a lack of basics for leading a quality life, mental poverty is acceptance of the current circumstances and hopelessness, believing that there is no way out. In both forms, poverty robs people of choices and free will, making it a terrible form of violence. Over 65% of the country’s population resides in rural areas*(1) where the poverty ratio is as high as 32.75 percent against 8.81 percent of the population in urban areas*(2). Thus, rural development needs an exclusive focus by ALL to make India realize its true growth potential. A holistic model for an empowered future for Indian villages When we began our philanthropic journey, I addressed a group of women in Raigad addressing the importance of education for their daughters. One woman from the group raised the question, “If our daughters attend school, who will help us get water for our families.” It made us realize that to build empowered communities; we cannot only work on one issue. Poverty penetrates deep and impacts all aspects of life. To uplift millions out of poverty, we suggest a holistic rural development model that is accepted by the community, which addresses their concerns, empowers them to take charge of their village development and builds aspirations for a better life. A holistic rural development model addresses the community’s basic needs like water and sanitation, health, livelihoods, and education. In parallel, using PRA techniques, communities are empowered with information and practices that will enable them to continue meeting their challenges and emerge as empowered rural communities. Ghotawade Kasarwadi, a tribal hamlet in Raigad, Maharashtra, formed a Village Development Committee (VDC) and, with support from a nonprofit secured drinking water and toilet for each household. To ensure the ownership by the community, the VDC collected a nominal fee from each household and contributed to the drinking water scheme through Shram Daan (sweat equity).

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