Samerth’s work has had a life-changing impact on marginalised communities in the states of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. A perfect example would be the plight of families in the Rapar block of Kutch district – one of the most arid and drought-prone regions in India – before Samerth’s intervention.
When Rupa Ben Rabari was interviewed, she spoke of the need for villagers to migrate every year: “When it doesn’t rain, we stay elsewhere in Gujarat for eight months with our cattle.” This year has been tough in terms of rainfall.
Samerth understood the dire problem and planned an inclusive approach that would require participation from the people to make the region ‘water positive’. They did so by leveraging government programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which also provided families with livelihoods through building water resources.
As a result, water storage increased by 44% in Rapar’s 20-gram panchayats, impacting the lives of thousands of humans and cattle, ensuring the villagers are well-prepared for even the driest of seasons.
Samerth also realise the importance of sanitation in improving standards of living. They teamed up with IRDF (India Development and Relief Fund) to construct over 1,200 sanitation facilities for over 3,000 impoverished rural families. Most of them are first generation toilet users.
Education is Samerth’s other big focus area. They work primarily with tribal groups in Chhattisgarh, as they are the most vulnerable and deprived of basic rights, and have managed to reach out to more than 50,000 children across three districts. In the Kota district, they specifically address the issue of quality drinking water and have built water resource structures for drinking and irrigation.
They work closely with the Baiga tribe – enhancing livelihoods, enabling access to government health facilities and promoting gender awareness to resolve women’s issues, among other things.
Samerth’s commitment to giving a voice and self-help tools to secure resources, rights and livelihoods for the most marginalised is laudable. They need all the support to help them uplift and empower some of the most deprived and isolated communities in India.