TACOMA, Washington — India is one of the most prominent countries pushing to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. As the country rapidly progresses to lessen the 5% extreme poverty rate out of its 1.3 billion person population, it has improved situations through a number of different solutions. Gramonnati Trust, a social enterprise, works to aid rural Indians by providing education, technology or assistance, coinciding with some of the SDGs. The organization focuses specifically on rural women, ex-soldiers and farmers. The company currently has five major projects: providing food provisions to old age homes and orphanages, bringing technology to rural classrooms, working to promote women and ex-soldiers as farming entrepreneurs, training farmers with new techniques incorporating new technology and giving water purifiers to rural areas for sustainable water sources.
Gramonnati Trust, in collaboration with Gratitude Farms, works to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to old age homes and orphanages. The groups have already delivered over 1.5 tons to the current 522 recipients across Chennai and Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu. It costs 400 rupees to provide a person with fresh fruits and vegetables for a month, assuming they have 9 kilograms of these per month.
During COVID-19, this service has become increasingly necessary. Restrictions and safety concerns prevent many from going out, especially those in old age homes. In many major cities, food provisions have become key.
The Vidya-Jyoti Program
This program aims to develop rural classrooms by bringing technology and teacher training to schools. The program has been implemented in 20 schools so far. Under this program, there are six specialty areas: digitizing classrooms, providing interactive virtual classes, training teachers, increasing English proficiency and motivating students through workshops.
As COVID-19 restrictions push schools online, students face an increasing need for laptops, speakers and other portable learning devices. The program aims to provide these resources as it works in collaboration with other pre-existing kits, such as one developed by Children’s Lovecastle Trust.
Additionally, the program also aids teachers by increasing their ability to teach, strengthening India’s education system. Teachers receive training on how to increase student engagement along with learning stronger English skills to pass onto students.
Rural areas in India especially suffer from a lack of funding, preventing their ability to provide necessary training and resources to teachers and students. By providing these resources and motivating students to aspire higher, younger generations in rural areas have a much higher potential to move out of poverty.
The Ravi Kiran Project
This project works with rural women to propel them forward as organic farming entrepreneurs. By increasing the sustainability of farms, all of those working at the farm and buyers benefit.
The Ravi Kiran project specifically works on sustainability by solar-drying many types of produce, providing jobs for low-income rural women while increasing the shelf-life of the produce. Each woman is supplied with a 10-kilogram solar dryer, which lasts for around seven years.
Once provided with a solar dryer, the participant receives training. Every day after this, the participant would receive produce, which she dries using the solar dryer. Around mid-afternoon, when produce is dry, she would weigh and package it, before Gramonnati Trust ships it. Doing this work provides a rural woman with 7,200 rupees per month.
The AuroKrishi program
This program also works in sustainable farming by providing rural farmers with education and new technologies. The goal of this training is to shift rural farmers into more environmentally friendly farming practices that prove to be more sustainable.
Currently, the program has seven different topics it trains on at three sites across Tamil Nadu. The training includes urban (rooftop) gardening, organic farming techniques, mushroom production, bee-keeping, sustainable farming, training for schools and aquaponics.
The final major project, TamRas, is a water purifier that works to create a sustainable source of drinking water. According to UNICEF, only about 50% of Indians have access to safe drinking water. While India has made major strides to reduce this issue, lack of clean water leads to disease, infant mortality and increased rates of dropping out of school, among other problems.
The device requires no electricity or source of energy. It uses copper ions to cleanse the water of disease, a well-known natural way of purifying water. The copper cleanses out diseases and bacteria such as E.coli. Clean water benefits hygiene along with drinking water quality.
With these five projects, Gramonnati Trust has made a large impact on the state of Tamil Nadu. Its five-pronged effort targets many known aspects of rural poverty, bringing up the population in a multitude of sustainable mannerisms. By targeting multiple SDGs at the same time, the enterprise is able to bridge the work of many organizations into different interconnected pathways. This fresh approach proves to be valuable and innovative.
– Nitya Marimuthu