S M Sehgal Foundation hosted a conference to share good practices and challenges in rural development initiatives in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, on December 16, 2021.
The government, corporates, and NGOs have been working together to address the development challenges in Aurangabad district, located in the heart of Maharashtra, also known for world-famous tourist and heritage sites. The district often hits the headlines due to frequent droughts, errant rainfall, and distress migration. Poor rainfall affects agriculture severely, which ultimately affects the income of families. These challenges can only be tackled by appropriate development initiatives around water, soil conservation, and awareness of farmers on suitable agricultural practices.
S M Sehgal Foundation has completed a number of development initiatives in Phulambari, Sillod, and Paithan blocks on improving rainwater-harvesting capacity of the villages through resource augmentation, creating facilities for better access to clean drinking water, transforming schools, increasing crop productivity of farms through adoption of better agriculture practices, and building the capacity of communities to manage the development initiatives. The conference brought together stakeholders who shared their experiences given the geographical challenges, solutions implemented, and the impacts.
From S M Sehgal Foundation, Anjali Makhija, COO, opened the event and shared the journey of the foundation team in Aurangabad from 2018–present, and also dedicated a video showcasing the impacts to the community. She remarked, “Our journey so far in Aurangabad has only been possible with the support of partners, including government and corporates. We are thankful to them for partnering with us in this process of development, working with communities to address the most pressing needs of the region.” Overall impacts in the district include 270 million liters of water saving; 1,500 farmers made aware of agriculture practices; 200 villagers actively participate in committees for village development, school management, and water management for sustainability; 1,000 children in two schools have enhanced learning environment; and 200 women leaders now act as change agents in their villages.
CSR representatives of various companies working in Aurangabad and Maharashtra, progressive farmers of the district, government officials, faculty from universities and women-elected representatives of gram panchayat spoke at the event. A thematic session on water management and local participation was facilitated by Anjali Makhija. The speakers for the session included Vishnu Khedkar, program lead, Sehgal Foundation; Prafull More, chief associate manager, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd; Deepak Lalwani, regional manager, Mahindra & Mahindra Kirsh-e, Maharashtra; Shailesh Parte, lead CSR, Canpack India Pvt. Ltd.; Professor P.M. Shahapurkar, College of Social Work; Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, and experience-sharing by villagers. The other session, on agriculture development, was facilitated by Pooja O. Murada, principal lead, Outreach for Development. Speakers included Prof. Tulshidas Baliram Bastewad; Dr. Annasaheb Shinde College of Agricultural Engineering & Technology; Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri, Ahmednagar; Tushar Chavan, Subject Matter specialist, Mahatma Gandhi Mission, KVK, Aurangabad; Sumit Patil, Hytech India; and experience-sharing by farmers.
Dr. Vikas Jha, principal lead, Local Participation and Sustainability, S M Sehgal Foundation, gave the concluding remarks. Also present at the event were Subhransu Bebarta, manager, Project Development; and the implementation team in Aurangabad.
S M Sehgal Foundation (Sehgal Foundation) was established in 1999 as a public charitable trust to strengthen community-led development initiatives to achieve positive social, economic, and environmental change across rural India.
Sehgal Foundation has five main program areas: Water Management, Agriculture Development, Local Participation and Sustainability, Transform Lives one school at a time, and Outreach for Development. These programs are supported by a skilled research team that engage in participatory research, impact assessment, and interactive dialogues to determine informed actions to achieve sustainable results. The foundation has entered its third decade in rural India with presence in over 1,348 villages across forty-six districts in eleven states of India (as of September 2021), and the work continues to grow.
Sehgal Foundation’s partners, in the corporate, government, academic, social sectors, and on the ground in rural communities, are key to the success of its rural development initiatives and consistent growth. Visit www.smsfoundation.org for more details.
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