Member Profile: Gram Vikas

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Gram Vikas is a rural development organization, working with poor and marginalized communities of Orissa, India toward sustainable improvements in the quality of life of the rural poor since 1979.

Date Founded 1979-01-22
Primary Focus Drinking Water - Households
Secondary Focus Sanitation - Households
History of Water Projects
Related work not on PWX.

Through the MANTRA programme, Gram Vikas facilitates access to safe water and dignified and hygienic sanitation in Orissa's rural communities.

Gram Vikas aims to mobilise communities to build their own water and sanitation systems. A direct link between safe water and sanitation exists, and clean water will remain a distant dream until open defecation is eradicated throughout the community. Therefore, toilets and shower rooms are built first before the water is turned on.

As part of the programme, every household is provided with a toilet and bathroom along with running water supply via an overhead water tank. The programme emphasises sustainability of such a system without outside intervention hence, community contribution and management of the system are essential. Gram Vikas provides skill building, training and education. Furthermore it creates the financial and institutional mechanisms that ensure that the facilities are available to all families without exception. Future growth in the community is also planned for in the creation of a corpus fund consisting of on average, Rs. 1000/- per family. Once collected from every family the Corpus fund is invested and, the interest is used to ensure that new families that come up in the village in later years get the same incentives to build their toilets and bathing rooms, thus ensuring 100% coverage of all families at all times in future.

The current social structure that exists in villages would not enable all the members of the community to access clean water; rather it would restrict this commodity to the exclusive use of the most powerful members in the community. In order to ensure that there is universal access, Gram Vikas challenges the established social order, and mandates that all households are included in the programme and all female heads of household are also involved in the decision making process. The concept of 100% inclusion keeps villages clean and eliminates sources of water contamination. This is also the first step in the process of breaking down caste and gender barriers in a community. Furthermore it is the first step in giving marginalised people a chance to have self esteem and think of themselves on the same level as any other person in the community.

MANTRA facilitates united and capacitated communities to undertake development activities, in the following focal areas: self- governing people’s institutions, health, education, livelihoods and food security, livelihood enabling infrastructure.

MANTRA core values:

1- 100% Inclusion
All households must be involved in the development process and must benefit equitably. Participation of all households is a non-negotiable condition of the programme.

2- Social Equity
Representation of all sections of the community in decision-making processes across caste, economic status and other barriers to ensure that a level playing field is created.

3- Gender Equity
Equal representation and participation of men and women in community level decision-making and control.

4- Sustainability
Development processes have built-in institutional and financial mechanisms for sustainability, and are necessarily based on sound environmental values.

5- Cost sharing
Poor people can and will pay for beneficial development services, but there are some social costs which society at large must meet.

Under MANTRA, Gram Vikas facilitates village communities to establish, operate, and manage their own habitat including disaster-proof housing, water supply and sanitation systems, and appropriate water recharge mechanisms. The facilities are created with their own efforts and resources and with some assistance from external agencies.

MANTRA uses water supply and sanitation as an entry point and core-rallying element for all families in a village to come together, cutting through social barriers. MANTRA is undertaken with clear social, economic and environmental sustainability mechanisms. A typical programme cycle is between three and five years, after which Gram Vikas withdraws from the habitation. Thereafter, the community takes full responsibility for the management, operation and maintenance of all systems.

The MANTRA is designed in such a way, that it enables the community to be self-reliant. Once the development of physical infrastructure is completed, Gram Vikas staff accompanies the village committee to take care of the system, develop norms for operations and maintenance and support participation of all sections in the decision making process.

Organization Background

Gram Vikas, literally meaning “village development” is a non-governmental organization, working towards making sustainable improvement in the quality of life of poor and marginalized people of Orissa. Founded by a group of student volunteers from Chennai, under the umbrella of the Young Students Movement for Development (YSMD), Gram Vikas has been actively involved in development since 1979 and has grown to be the largest NGO in the region.

It operates through one Head Office and 22 field offices. With 522 employees, Gram Vikas reaches out today to 895 habitations in 22 districts in Orissa state. It has also initiated the programme in 2 districts in Madhya Pradesh state and one district in Jharkhand state.

Our mission is realized through MANTRA - Movement and Network for the Transformation of Rural Areas, an integrated habitat development programme, guided by the belief that, all people deserve to live in peace, with dignity.

Through this approach, Gram Vikas has supplied 701 villages throughout Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand with bathing rooms, toilets, and 24-hour piped water supply to every household within the community.

The Gram Vikas Vision:
An equitable and sustainable society where people live in peace with dignity.

The Gram Vikas Mission:
To promote processes which are sustainable, socially inclusive and gender equitable, to enable critical masses of poor and marginalized rural people or communities to achieve a dignified quality of life.

The Gram Vikas Definition:
In our perception ‘dignified quality of life’ of people or communities is characterised by:

- Options for appropriate family and community infrastructure and sources of energy;
- Sustainable use and management of natural resources;
- Food security and access to secured livelihood opportunities;
- Assured access to basic education and adequate health services;
- Strong self-governing people’s institutions with equal participation of men and women;
- Conscientisation, self reliance and self-esteem.

The Gram Vikas Logo:
Two hands together forming a heart is how we believe our logo defines us: cooperation with concern and care for people.