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Since 1981, Mahiti is a rural development organization based...
 
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Mahiti works closely with communities in nearly 90 villages of Dhandhuka, Barwala and...
 
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History, Genesis & Growth
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In 1978, Government of Gujarat (GoG) launched a scheme to survey backward areas of the state. Professionals from Utthan (Ahmedabad based NGO) took the responsibility to survey drought prone areas of Dhandhuka Block, which is part of Bhal region. They collected information on the prevailing socio- economic and political condition. A detailed report was prepared reflecting serious backwardness of the area and submitted to the Government of Gujarat. Successively Utthan started Mahiti project to disseminate information on various development activities and programs. Local groups and committees were formed to undertake various activities such as drinking water, social afforestation, wind energy and mangrove plantation etc. The focus was on empowering oppressed rural communities with a special emphasis on the women. In the early stages itself the project team realized that women are an inevitable part of development process. Their courage, patience and hard work put them ahead of men. They have had no inhibitions to confront exploitative caste structure. In the early stages Mahiti initiated two saving and credit groups of women in Bhangadh and Mingalpur villages of Dholera Block.

Drinking Water 3In 1994, recognizing the strength of Mahiti team, Utthan decided to withdraw from the region and establish Mahiti as an autonomous organization. On 9th August, 1994, Mahiti formally registered with Bombay Trust Act, 1950. Mrs. Devuben Pandya took the leadership of the organization who hails from Bhangadh village and a senior member of the team. She took charge to build Mahiti as an independent and committed organization to fight the causes of marginalized sections especially women.

Drinking Water 2Mahiti is concentrating on diverse issues and one of the basic issues is that of drinking water. Women are the first victims of drinking water crisis. Mahiti Project Team successfully took up this issue at government and non-government forums. With continuous efforts, several changes were made to government’s policy for drinking water. As part of the efforts 21 Rainwater Harvesting Plastic Lined Ponds were constructed in Bhal region having capacity to meet drinking water needs of more than 45000 families. ‘Agriculture films’ (HDPE plastic sheets) used as layer in the construction of these ponds. Successively the Mahiti has constructed more than 3000 Household Level Roof-Top Rainwater Harvesting Tanks/Structures (RRWHS) for remotely located households.

Since the last decade, Mahiti addressed various issues of poverty and underdevelopment of the Bhal region. Mahiti adopted cooperation as approach to organize communities / groups to retain formal status. Two district level cooperatives of women – the “Bhal Women’s saving and Credit Cooperative” of Ahmedabad and the “Bhal Women’s Jagruti Saving and Credit Cooperative” of Bhavnagar were formed to curb exploitation by moneylenders. More than 10000women joined these cooperatives so far where the recorded financial transactions are more than Rs. 2 crores (20 million) per year. Apart from micro financing these cooperatives support women groups in various social and economic activities.

Community Health Intervention was also promoted by Mahiti to develop the village level health system and link it up with the government run primary health centers (PHCs). This is successfully promoted in more than 78 villages. Sanitation, childcare, maternal health, emergency services are some of the activities that Mahiti continuously supports and strengthens. Whole cadres of volunteers were developed in the remotest corner of earth such Mahiti has trained 130 Traditional Birth Attendants (Dais) and 105 Village Level Women Health Workers in 78 villages of Bhal region for carrying out safe deliveries and primate heath treatment respectively.  

Mahiti has also undertook Soil & Water Conservation Activities by Watershed Development Approach in 22 villages with the financial assistance from Department of Rural Development, Government of Gujarat and Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India in Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar districts covering more than 15000 hectares land. Various activities under this intervention helped in improving soil fertility, minimizing salinity effects on crop productivity and augmenting fresh water in saline tracks of Bhal region. Mahiti also promoted and implementing Integrated Wasteland Development Programs (IWDP) in 06 villages in Dholka block of Ahmedabad district to improve natural resource condition.

Mahiti undertook Soil & Water Conservation Activities by Watershed Development Approach in 22 villages with the financial assistance from Department of Rural Development, Government of Gujarat and Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India in Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar districts covering more than 15000 hectares land. Various activities under this intervention helped in improving soil fertility, minimizing salinity affects on crop productivity and augmenting fresh water in saline tracks of Bhal region. Mahiti also promoted and implementing Integrated Wasteland Development Programs (IWDP) in 06 villages in Dholka block of Ahmedabad district to improve natural resource condition.

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From the date of its inception, Mahiti has constructed more than 3000 Roof-top Rainwater Harvesting Structures (RRWHS) and 21 Rainwater Harvesting Plastic Lined Ponds to benefit vulnerable households in remote villages. Mahiti also promoted Mangroves Restoration in more than 500 hectors of land along the coast of Bhal through ‘Women’s Land Cooperatives’ with the financial assistance from Gujarat Ecology Commission. Gandhinagar (GEC). Mangroves so far checked the salinity ingress in coastal villages and protected farmland from turning saline. Their depletion is now going to be a threat for marginally productive lands. This initiative faced setback from State decision to withdraw the activity in light of proposed dream ‘Kalpasar’ project in gulf. 

Mahiti strongly represented the case of TalapadaKoli and Dalit communities at all platforms to secure social justice. It has not hesitated to take legal approach to convince any local power system that walk over exploiting these communities. As a result Mahiti has emerged as single source for vulnerable communities to represent their issues and seek justice.

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