6 December 2014

Solar Wind Hybrid - embracing renewables for rural energy solution

Pragya has set up its third ‎Solar ‎Wind Hybrid System (‎SWHS) in Shyaso village, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, as part of its efforts to enhance energy access in the Indian ‎Himalayas to improve quality of life in rural households. (View Photographs from the installation process) 

The jubilant Shyaso villagers inaugurated the facility in presence of the Block Development Officer. The combination of solar and wind ‎energy would ensure continual generation of power in this high altitude village - day-and-night, summer-or-winter.

The SWHS technology is ideal for stand alone systems for remote rural settlements. This innovation had won The Energy Globe Award (2005) for the pilot in the neighbouring district of Lahaul & Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.

View an update on IUCN quarterly newsletter

30 November 2014

Medicinal plants cultivation in Himalayas - visit from Agarwal Foundation

Ms. Hillary Gumbar of The Agarwal Foundation visited Pragya's field endeavours in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India. Pragya has been working with the rural communities to promote cultivation of medicinal plants as a sustainable livelihood option in the high altitude Himalayas. Women's groups and Farmer Experts are being facilitated in various districts to undertake cultivation and to prevent wild harvest of these rare and endangered plants.

Ms. Gumbar recounted her visit on her Blog ("Tales from the field").

10 November 2014

Reaching out to people in flood hit Jammu & Kashmir

Pragya is currently working to respond to the needs of the affected people in the Himalayan state of Jammu & Kashmir that has been devastated by one of the worst floods in 103 years. With our field officers coordinating efforts from Srinagar and Jammu, Pragya is reaching out to flood-victims in Jammu, Reasi, Kulgam, Srinagar, Pulwama, Budgam, Anantnag, Baramulla and Bandipora districts, which are among the worst affected. (View map)

Our sincere thanks to Aarti Drugs Ltd., Agility India Pvt. Ltd., Amdocs Information Security, BP Foundation , Chambal Fertilisers & Chemicals Ltd, Crompton Greaves Ltd, Godfrey Phillips India, Happy World, Hitachi India Pvt. Ltd., Indian Cultural Exchange - Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, InterGlobe Aviation Ltd-IndiGo, Jet Airways (India) Ltd, Paul Wurth India, Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt. Ltd, SpiceJet Ltd, Vestige Marketing Pvt. Ltd., Young Managers Forum - JK Lakshmi Cement ltd. and all individual supporters who have helped us reach out to those in need. 

Thanks to our supporters, we have reached 9954 items of hygiene kits, 282 packs of baby food, 914 nutrition-packs for children, 102 medicine kits and bulk quantities during health camps, 13332 kg food grains and spices, and 330 ltr of cooking oil,8287 packs of ready-to-eat food items, 1949 blankets, 160 sets of utensils/emergency lights, 2148 ltr water and 22040 water purifying tablets, 914 warm wear kits for children, so far. Current efforts are focused on addressing needs for warm wear before winter sets in. (Read more about our outreach)

To join our efforts, please write to: research@pragya.org or call +91 9810188066.
(More information)

6 November 2014

DEISPI workshop for educationally backward districts in India

The multi-stakeholder consultative workshop on DEISPI (Dynamic Education Information System for Planning and Improvement) ~ An Education Management & Information System for Tribal, Border, Hilly, Forested (TBHF) Districts in India was held on 5th November 2014 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi,IndiaThe workshop was supported by USAID under the 'All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development' initiative, and was conducted by Pragya India. The event shared the learnings from the successful piloting of DEISPI with stakeholders in other educationally backward TBHF districts across India, as well as at the national level, and facilitating its uptake and implementation. The event sought to draw together national, state and district level institutions, governmental and non-governmental, involved in education delivery, with particular focus on TBHF districts, as well as educationists concerned with education policy, research, teachers' training and curriculum development to fine-tune the EMIS.

Along with the Guest of Honour, Prof. Peter Ronald deSouza (Senior Fellow - Centre for Study of Developing Societies, Board Member - NUEPA) and Distinguished Guest Dr. Huma Masood (National Programme Officer - Gender & Education, UNESCO), the workshop had participation from institutions involved in education delivery, with particular focus on TBHF districts as well as educationists concerned with education policy, research, teachers’ training and curriculum development. Participation was elicited from national and international institutions such as NUEPA, ACER, SSA Missions and State Education Departments, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Institutions (SCERTs, SIEs, DIETs), District Education Departments and institutions hailing from TBHF districts. The event also provided the opportunity for key stakeholders from the 11 piloted districts, to share their experience and concerns in implementing DEISPI

The participative process brought out the need for modification in DEISPI Tools / Process / Methods of data collection and dissemination in TBHF districts across the country. Recognising that all TBHF districts are not alike , the participants of the workshop were divided into 5 working groups: TBHF with positive socio-political status, Border/peripheral TBHF, TBHF with chronic poverty, TBHF near mainstream economy and TBHF with significant socio-cultural barriers. The Chairs presented the results of the deliberations at the end of the session. (Glimpses from the event)

22 September 2014

Pragya joins The People's Climate March

The People's Climate March was one of the largest activist event in recent years to advocate global action against climate change that took place on Sunday, September 21, 2014, in New York City, USA. Pragya's Research & Advocacy and Communication & Engagement team members joined the Climate March held in New Delhi, India, Saturday, September 20, 2014, anchored by 350.org India. They joined thousands of college students, children, civil society representatives, and members of communities affected by disaster/climate change. The team carried its banner raising concerns regarding the frequent high impact natural disasters in the Himalayas and were at the forefront of the procession from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. (More info)

10 September 2014

Addressing nutrition - the Pragya way...

Food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition continue to pose a major challenge for development, globally. The Himalayan belt, a particularly remote and backward region, where food production is constrained by the terrain and severe climatic conditions, and the problems are compounded due to weak infrastructure, displays the worst food insecurity and nutritional status, with maximum impacts on women. Pragya is addressing these concerns through three broad strategies: (i) Women’s nutri-gardens and Nutrition Watch: small agricultural initiatives for women to increase family food security and nutritional levels; (ii) Nutrient-dense montane farming: agricultural practices and technologies which address nutrient deficiencies; and (iii) Himalayan agri-production scale-up: agricultural improvements for improving land productivity and crop yields to enhance farm incomes.
In Kinnaur district in the western Himalayas, early detection of high iron deficiency (Hb 7.0) in a women’s group member, by the women’s care and ‘Hunger & Nutrition Watch’ processes, and appropriate and sustained dietary intake via growing of cabbage and spinach crops in Nutri-Gardens helped the woman farmer achieve acceptable Haemoglobin levels (Hb 11.0). Women's groups in Sikkim, Darjeeling as well have shown keen interest in managing their home gardens and poly-houses for year round production.


8 August 2014

Mountain Agricultural Assistance Service Launch

Pragya organised a national workshop to initiate a multi- stakeholder network: Mountain Agricultural Assistance Service (MAAS). The event held on 7th August, 2014, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India was inaugurated by Dr. Sanjeev Chopra, Jt. Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture – Govt. of India and had participation from national, regional and local institutions, government & non-governmental, as well as experts on mountain agriculture.

The workshop was designed to facilitate interaction among the participants to document the existing pool of knowledge and support services and draw out recommendations for functioning of the MAAS network and insights on key action options to address food security of the small farmers. 

The one-day event began with a brief inaugural session that highlighted the relevance of MAAS network in the current Himalayan context, which was followed by multi-stakeholder deliberations for two sessions: Working session 1: Pathways for Alliance and Working session2: Specific Interventions for Mountain Agriculture.

The process looked at the issues plaguing the mountain agriculture and posing threat to food security of the small farmers in the region and facilitated cross stakeholder understanding of the issues. The participative process also brought out recommendations for the network functions that are expected to be far closer to the stakeholder needs and area specific requirements.

The post-lunch session saw presentations by technical experts from NCPAH-Ministry of Agriculture, IMD Agro-met Division and SASE on existing support services and potential contributions towards Mountain Agricultural Assistance Service. The event concluded with sharing of results of the deliberations and summarization of the key priorities.

8 July 2014

"Ganga Manthan" dialogue

Research & Advocacy Team of Pragya, participated in national dialogue: “Ganga Manthan" - a multi-stakeholder dialogue, hosted by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India, on 7th July, 2014 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, India. The event was inaugurated by nion Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Union Water Resources Minister Ms. Uma Bharti. The event was also attended by Union Minister of Environment Mr. Prakash Javadekar. Post inaugural session, the participants were divided into parallel working sessions by stakeholder categories - Scientists, NGOs/Civil Society and Religious Leaders. 

The event highlighted the focus of Ministry of Water Resources on 'Aviral aur Nirmal (continuous and clean) Ganga'. The government seeks to provide around 30% cost and plans to raise the rest through public-private partnership (PPP). The discussions focused more on waste water treatment, water sharing issues rather than rejuvenation of water sources. The Pragya member participated in 'Aviral & Nirmal Ganga' session
, chaired by: Justice Girdhar Malviya, that was designated for the NGOs & Environmentalists and submitted several recommendations during the consultation. 

Pragya works to reach benefits of technology in water sector to deprived indigenous communities. (Read more about our work)

16 June 2014

E-book published - DMS-HIMALAYA

In June 2013, high-intensity rain and cloudbursts in the Indian State of Uttarakhand in the Himalayas triggered a series of hydrologic and geologic disasters, including glacial lake outbursts, landslides and flash floods, affecting more than 2,036,000 people and leading to one of the worst catastrophes of the decade. 

One year on, as the country still grapples with the calamitous event and its aftermath, in DMS-Himalaya, Banerji, Ipe and Basu through first-hand observations, vividly recapture the cascading combination disaster that occurred and the event trajectory. The book also examines the response process to the disaster, what worked and what did not. The learnings, from pre-event stages to post-event response, are drawn out with consideration of the complex interlinked issues related to disaster response in remote locations with fragile ecologies, and have been woven into a fortified disaster management system for the Himalayas.

8 May 2014

Recommendations for State & Non-State Development Collaborations

Although the past nine years have shown a healthy movement towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the disappointments and gaps indicate the areas in need of attention during the post-2015 period. Traditionally neglected and excluded groups on the social, economic and geographic margins have remained deprived of the benefits of development. Inequities have grown and the festering dissatisfaction has contributed to violence and conflicts, in turn eroding the gains made. These inequities are often perpetuated by local political structures, indicating the critical need for a rights-based approach and an inclusive agenda within nations after 2015.

Pragya highlighted these concerns and its recommendations on State & Non-State Development Collaborations in its statement submitted to UN ECOSOC High-level segment: annual ministerial review - 2014 session. (View full statement)

11 March 2014

"Inspiring Change"

Members of Research & Advocacy Team & Communication & Engagement Team participated in the event "Inspiring Change" held at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, India, on 10th March 2014. The event was jointly organised by EU Delegation to India and UN Women. The inaugural session was graced by presence of dignitaries from various embassies. Dr. João Cravinho, EU Ambassador to India & Bhutan, mentioned an MoU between UN Women & EU in his opening speech. Dr. Rada Boric from Croatia gave the Keynote address and spoke about women's rights scenario during wars. She mentioned the steps that Croatia had to take towards women's empowerment before being included in EU. She also spoke about the struggle & solidarity of women in her country & in neighbouring countries. She has interacted with several stakeholders in India and finds the challenges to be similar. She spoke of instances from Norway where women's empowerment led to increased profits. Spoke about her experiences as part of EU women's lobby.

Ms. Kamla Bhasin, Dr Rebecca Tavares (UN Women) advocated for a stand alone Gender Equality goal in Post 2015 SDGs. India has recently supported this idea. This was followed by a launch of an EU film and a panel discussion featuring Ms. Indira Jaisingh, Archana Sardana (sky jumper & deep sea diver), Kanchan Gaba (lawyer & scout, visually impaired) and Anju Pandey (UN Women). A UN Women Report that captured the voices of women across India, was also launched. The session on CSR, chaired by Ms. Sonia Srivastava (CSR Head, Intel) focused on how the companies deal with their women staff and their needs & challenges. The event also featured a series of success stories on women empowerment from rural India as an exhibit.

6 February 2014

Mountain biodiversity sessions

Pragya acted as the knowledge partner for the Mountain Biodiversity thematic sessions for '7th CMS VATAVARAN: International Environment & Wildlife Film Festival and Forum’ that was held from 30th January to 3rd February, 2014, at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi, India.

The event featured a kaleidoscope of more than 150 films, talks, deliberations, contemporary discourses, eco-trips, film store, music festival, green haat and organic food festival. The thematic sessions explored various issues and solutions regarding conservation of mountain biodiversity. Community leaders that Pragya is working with, from various Himalayan districts, participated in the discussions and shared their views. The event buzzed with the traditional folk dance & music from Nubra Valley of Ladakh, as Pragya facilitated one of the dance groups from the district to perform at the event.

(View photographs from the event)

31 January 2014

Rehabilitation work for flood hit Himalayan villages

From the onset of its relief operations for the flood affected Himalayan districts in June 2013, Pragya staff has been involved in carrying out area specific need assessments, which helped in formulation of effective rehabilitation strategies with inputs from key stakeholders. Pragya is in the midst of implementing its rehabilitation plan in the four affected districts viz. Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh, Chamoli and Uttarkashi. The interventions are spread across various sectors to reinstate people most affected by the floods. Click here for more on Pragya's work related to flood rehabilitation in Uttarakhand.

Regular health camps & psycho-social counselling sessions are being conducted in flood-affected villages by competent & qualified personnel. Pre-fabricated toilets (in order to ensure quicker installations) are being set up for households that have suffered severe damage to their houses. Covered water storage tanks with filtration units are being provided to the communities for ensuring safe potable water. A cadre of youth volunteers has been created in the flood affected districts as a Helpline to spread awareness and assist people to avail newly introduced schemes and provisions for flood-affected people/communities in the state, facilitating them with necessary paper work and procedures. Pragya is also working to ensure livelihood security for the households that are severely affected in terms of livelihoods due to the flashfloods in Uttarakhand. Households are being provided material support and technical assistance for setting up suitable low-cost greenhouses, along with vegetable seeds & saplings, farm tools etc., for undertaking cultivation of short-gestation, high-value vegetable crops for sale. Pragya is in process of initiating an in-depth research for customised livelihood solutions for the flood affected families.

27 January 2014

Call for papers on Gender, Governance and Agriculture

Abstracts are invited for a special issue of International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology. Last date for submission of abstracts is: 28th February 2014. Guest Editor for this issue: Gargi Banerji, Pragya. Once shortlisted, the full papers would be due by 30th April 2014. (View the full announcement)

23 January 2014

Cultivation packages for Kenyan farmers

As part of its initiative to conserve and ensure the sustainable utilisation of the medicinal & aromatic plants of East Africa, Pragya Kenya has developed training manuals for cultivation of 6 prioritised medicinal plants and necessary post harvest procedures. Training manual and awareness pamphlets have also been developed in Swaihili language for grassroots conservation planning workshops.

Bringing children back to schools

The earthquakes and aftershocks which struck Nepal in 2015 had an enormous impact on the country’s poorest communities. The effect on Nepal...