Manavlok mobilises rural men and women to become beneficiaries by putting in equal time and energy in the current Marathwada drought
How many of us are unaffected by reports of the awful water shortage and widespread drought across large parts of the country. Most people are looking to do their bit, at least by contributing to genuine NGOs working to mitigate the plight of people in this crisis and to find solutions for the future. Some, like V Vaidyanathan, chairman of Capital First, chose to hop on to a bus, visit the drought-hit areas, eat at the community kitchen and see for himself the work that was being done before contributing an undisclosed amount.
The NGO he visited is Manavlok, which stands for Marathwada Navnirman Lokayat. The current Marathwada drought is among the most severe droughts in recent years in Maharashtra; but the problems are not new. Manavlok, which works at Beed district, calls itself ‘an experiment in rural reshaping’, which is what is truly required to bring about changes that last beyond one drought year, or are forgotten after a bountiful monsoon.
Manavlok has an interesting approach to welfare– it believes in providing people with the means for development rather than doling out money to them. Its work is not new nor of recent vintage. The thought behind the organisation dates back to the early 1970s when a young group of socialists began to seek solutions to social and political problems of the rural community and concluded that it can only be achieved with economic change. In 1982, they established Manavlok as a voluntary organisation for the socio-economic upliftment of the rural poor.
Over the past 33 years, its activities have grown considerably, but never strayed from the tenet that programmes should be based on the specific needs of the people. Based in the Ambajogai Tehsil of Beed district, Manavlok works in 151 villages of Ambajogai, Majalgaon and Kaij Tehsils.
Dr Dwarkadasji Lohiya laid the foundation of the voluntary organisation when he was studying in an Ayurvedic college in Nanded (Maharashtra). His close association with marginal farmers, landless labourers and traditional village artisans helped him understand their problems and it led to his committed work with Manavlok in the early stages, as the founder. The work is continued by Aniket D Lohiya, his son.
In the past few months, drought relief and preparing for the monsoon has been an important part of its ongoing activities. It has started community kitchens in 11 of the worst drought-hit villages to ensure one free meal a day to the needy. In return, at least one member of each family has to do voluntary work (shramdan) for water conservation work in that particular village. Over 167,264 needy villagers had been provided meals until 31st March. This activity is sustained through donations from people.
As a long-term water conservation activity, the project ‘Revival of Holna River’ has been undertaken and over 7.5km of de-silting has been done already. The silt acts as soil regenerator for nearby farms. The effort will directly benefit 12 villages through which the Holna River’ flows; other villages around this river will also indirectly benefit by increase in water table and moisture maintenance. A major effort is also on in three villages to build bunds and dig deep trenches to capture rainwater to percolate and recharge the groundwater.
Other than this, Manavlok runs 37 balwadis and conducts night study programmes at 35 centres to help students, especially school dropouts. Manavlok is also running a Master of Social Work College Beed.
You can do your bit by joining these efforts or sending a donation to help people in their hour of need.
Dhadpad, Post Box No - 23, Ring Road,
Taluq Ambajogai, District Beed
PIN 431517, Maharashtra.
Mobile No: +91 9823030005
Phone: 02446 247217
E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: 91 02446 248888