Chilakaluripet, Andhra Pradesh
ASSIST is a registered non-governmental organization working for the development of poor and marginalized communities in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh Read more and Telangana, India. ASSIST was founded in 1985 on the premise that development in India can only take place in proportion to the development of Village-India. For more than three decades, ASSIST has transformed thousands of lives by committing itself to the poorest of the poor, in areas where no other NGO has gone before. ASSIST helps the most underprivileged members of society, but it does so with a difference. The organization’s proven and sustainable approach focuses on the comprehensive development of its target communities. A unique feature of this approach is the development of innovative and adaptable strategies based on continuous communication at the community level . ASSIST helps communities to find answers for themselves by giving all its members an active and participatory role right from the beginning. ASSIST does not work for the people, but with the people in order to achieve the overall objective: making a community a viable unit for its own development. ASSIST is a secular NGO founded in 1985 by J. Ranga Rao (Operational Director) and K.S.R. Murthy (Executive Director). They were inspired by the ideology of the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi. He once said that “there is no freedom for India unless its villages are free” and that “independence must begin at the bottom”. ASSIST’s work strongly reflects this ideology. ASSIST is convinced that development in India can only take place when its most underprivileged members are able to fight with strength, courage and confidence for their own political, economic and social needs. It believes that rural communities, when given a chance, can find solutions for their problems and bring positive change to their own lives, and to those of the future generations.
Water conservation, usage, and management
Immediate actions such as delivering water trucks or drilling bore wells, without educating people on proper utilization, offer only short-term fixes. It is vital to create awareness regarding safe drinking water's significance, as well as the conservation, utilization, and upkeep of all water sources, ensuring lasting improvements. Community-wide engagement is crucial right from the start for success.
ASSIST collaborates with villagers to assess their community's needs and plan water source renovation or construction. Village Development Societies and dedicated committees take charge of implementing and maintaining these water sources. Additionally, it trains two or three adolescents per community to serve as mechanics and caretakers for these water sources.
Over the past 35 years, ASSIST has overseen the installation of 276 water treatment plants, with each one being installed and maintained by the rural community themselves.
Comprehensive Community Development Project (CCDP)
CCDP spans three to five years, encompassing diverse development efforts within a single community. After conducting a thorough needs assessment led by the community, the initial six months prioritize awareness building, mobilization, and group formation. It concentrates on implementing and overseeing development initiatives with active community involvement.
At the heart of ASSIST's methodology lies the empowerment of impoverished individuals through the establishment of self-sustaining People's Organizations. During the initial phase, the focus is on assisting communities in achieving legal recognition by registering with the local government. Through this process, democratically elected leaders undergo training to assume responsibility for all forthcoming endeavours. The 5 principal activities are:
After the People's Organizations are actively addressing their community's issues, they are encouraged to undertake infrastructure development projects with ASSIST's guidance and local government financial support. ASSIST combines external assistance from donor organizations with strong community involvement and, whenever feasible, government grants and loans.
This phase offers villagers the chance to enhance their living environment. Typically, communities prioritize securing proper shelter, household sanitation facilities, and sustainable water management and conservation. These initiatives empower each village to enhance their living conditions under the community's supervision, fostering increased pride, confidence, and dignity among the population.
In this third phase, the primary objective is to enhance the economic well-being of the targeted families by identifying sustainable sources of income. While motivating parents to withdraw working children is crucial, the sustainability of this change necessitates the advancement of livelihood opportunities.
Activities in this phase are diverse and are tailored to the typical income-generating practices in the regions where ASSIST operates. Ongoing projects encompass support for weaving cooperatives, training in organic farming techniques, household-level income generation initiatives, and vocational training in IT, fashion design, and healthcare administration.
ASSIST strives to facilitate the establishment of viable, long-term income generation schemes within communities, ensuring their sustainability.
Housing and sanitation
Families within ASSIST's rural target communities often reside in straw huts lacking basic amenities like electricity, water, or sanitation. Housing and sanitation improvements not only enhance hygiene and prevent diseases such as cholera and typhoid but also instil a sense of pride and dignity. This transformation is vital for rural development as it empowers communities to address other quality-of-life aspects confidently.
ASSIST actively encourages community participation and ownership in housing projects. ASSIST motivates communities to seek Government support, and it complements this with a matching grant. External support is provided in the form of materials, with the beneficiary family leading the planning and construction of their houses and household toilets.
As a crucial initial step, ASSIST raises awareness about hygiene, personal and environmental sanitation, drainage systems, and eco-friendly waste disposal within each project.
The primary beneficiaries of ASSIST are predominantly daily wage laborers, marginal farmers, and artisans. Many of these laborers rely on seasonal agricultural work in an area where annual rainfall is steadily decreasing. To break the cycle of dependence on agriculture and low-paying jobs, ASSIST is dedicated to enhancing the economic status of impoverished communities. This involves identifying sustainable income sources and providing relevant skill training.
Adolescents are equipped with vocational training in various profitable fields, including tailoring, fashion design, computer applications, masonry, motor mechanics, and leatherworking. To facilitate their journey into entrepreneurship, they receive loans from Mutually Aided Cooperative Thrift and Credit Societies (MACTS), managed by People's Organizations. This financial support empowers them to establish micro-enterprises such as workshops and small stores.
ASSIST's sustainable farming initiatives encompass the establishment of showcase farms and education in crop rotation and organic farming techniques. These methods enable the cultivation of crops with minimal investment while preserving soil fertility for the long term. Utilizing nursery demonstration plots, farmers gain valuable insights into seed treatment to combat fungal and bacterial diseases, significantly reducing the necessity for pesticide application post-transplantation. Given the growing consumer preference for organic produce, farmers can command higher prices in the market for vegetables, pulses, and various cereal grains cultivated using organic farming practices.
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229 of 1985
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