We know of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that devote themselves to uplifting the poor, providing education to underprivileged children, working with special-needs/mentally challenged children and adults, improving the lives of destitute women and old people who need care. Many of us may have also heard of (NGOs) that are working to conserve water, to save the dwindling tiger population, to save forests and the lives of indigenous people who inhabit these forests.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to find Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) of different genres (from those mentioned above) when I was recently involved in a HCL Foundation initiative, as a sub-jury on one of the tracks. I was especially heartened to find that:
Without taking any names, I want to share with you some of the unique NGOs I came across:
In the recent years we have seen floods strike at many places. Floods bring untold miseries to people and their lives, while derailing economic activities and affecting growth. Today, we have NGOs that focus solely on Flood Management. These NGOs that focus on Flood Management have mapped out flood prone regions in the country. They work to reduce the risk when a disaster or emergency occurs. Their response is aimed at the core humanitarian needs of children, youth, and the elderly, with quality programmes and continued support in their recovery and rehabilitation. Among the various lifesaving programmes, these NGOs accord priority to Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Food Security, and Nutrition.
Apart from floods, soil degradation is a major issue that we face the world over, and is a result of overgrazing, urbanization, and other unsustainable practices. Soil degradation affects the environment, agriculture, and food security, and can be contained only if more sustainable practices are promptly implemented. It’s therefore reassuring to see an increasing number of NGOs in India focus on this issue. These NGOs run programs composed of watershed groups, irrigation and groundwater recharge systems, and river basin management. Some of these NGOs run Forest landscape restoration initiatives, some use a social business approach to produce organic fertilizer for small farmers, and some teach about the soil food in the hope of facilitating a transition back to organic, natural farming methods.
Solar energy as a renewal energy source for farming is another area that is quickly emerging. There are NGOs that set up village solar energy centres, while also offering employment to women from these villages to manage the centres. These NGOs collaborate with manufactures (of solar equipment) and with banks (for loans to fund the set-up of the centre). There are some NGOs that go beyond farming, and promote the use of renewable, green, solar energy to run home appliance such as fans, light, water heaters, and even rice cookers.
Yet another eye-opener were those NGOs involved in the battle to defend Land Rights. Today, we have many NGOs and think tanks that call attention to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues that come with Land Grabs. Like these NGOs, organizations are working hard to fight land grabs, by working with governments to facilitate the necessary reforms, by morphing into social justice organizations that mobilizes people to fight against Land grabs, and support the right to land, food, and water for individuals.
As these initiatives become more widespread, I see NGOs making significant contributions to society.