Aspirational Districts Ongoing Initiatives
Barefoot College International is currently working within 7 aspirational districts across India to build community resilience, sustainable lifestyles and climate justice in rural villages. Our work includes Solar Engineer training of women, our Women Prosper Initiative and remote Digital Community School curricula that continue operating despite the effects of Covid-19.
We are working with the central government via state and district administration by assisting the government in the aspirational districts with our technical expertise and ground partner network towards achieving a cohesive goal of sustainable development and also contribute towards the strengthening of the human development index in poverty-stricken communities in India.
We have also strategized maximizing support from our CSR partners by innovating and implementing development projects in the aspirational districts.
The post-Covid era demands interventions and innovation for the development in the current global situation. Many corporate funding agencies are willing to fund innovative interventions across different domains of development especially health, education, WASH and financial resilience. In such circumstances, Barefoot College International can boost innovation with the support of adequate funding from these CSR partners.
Digital Community Aspirational Districts School Updates
During current times of upheaval, while schooling has completely halted, can be seen as an opportunity to restructure education in a way that brings us even closer to an equal playing field for universal learning. Even in the most remote areas, children should have the right to gain knowledge and thrive- today, tomorrow and after the effects of lockdown.
Since March 2020, we’ve enabled in Aspirational Districts:
Concentrated WASH & information:
- Disseminating correct information issued by the World Health Organisation regarding COVID-19 through an IVR system
- Providing awareness against fake news and facts circulated through technology
Advocacy for COVID Preparedness:
- Activating Edu-worker, Teacher & VECs to push local panchayat for preparedness and accessing government schemes
- Profiling village medical conditions and Pre-identify gaps for Barefoot College and accessing other institutions for medical support
Child Rights and Gender-related conversation:
Social and financial stress vents itself in domestic violence, jeopardizing child safety. Channels of gender sensitization and child rights awareness have to be opened up
Our Digital Community teachers have shared their feedback with our team: an outstanding positive response was shared. A couple of the many testimonials that were shared with us from across the country:
“I have been a teacher since 2016 and the thing I liked the most was that we can now take training on audio calls too. If in the future, a situation like this comes again, whether we are a part of this project or any other project, we can learn online – I liked that the most.”
–Munna Kumar Ram, Jamunia Kania Tola, Bihar
“What we did was actually outstanding! We also listen to the audio activities that are sent on the phone. The children would be very excited to learn and repeatedly ask me, ‘What activity came yesterday?’ The children were able to complete the work and I loved that education continued (during Covid-19). “
– Kishan Singh, Jawaja, DNS Baghmal (Bheel Basti)
Our Aspirational Districts Solar Updates
In remote districts, some villages have not been electrified due to scattered settlements, difficult topography and challenges of inaccessibility. To mitigate this challenge, Barefoot College International with support from the District Administration, trained local women from Jharkhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh with skills needed for the installation, maintenance and assembly of Solar Home Lighting Systems.
The first phase of the project in Gumla District of Jharkhand, for instance, involved the solar electrification of 150 unelectrified households. Women were also trained to practise sustainable livelihoods like beekeeping and coffee harvesting. As a result of this initiative, women of the Gumla District have equipped themselves with skill sets that enable steady incomes and provided a better electricity alternative to households that were otherwise without.
In some districts, such as Rajasthan and Assam, women have shown the efficacy of the Women Prosper Initiative (WPI) by successfully selling Barefoot Solar products to regional communities. The products are long-lasting, high quality and come at an affordable price for rural clients.
Women have been receiving a commission for selling the products. Because of the Enriche training that each woman receives, many more women have financial and savings acumen and have opened their own bank accounts. In communities where women rarely work or receive income, this added boost can result in profound prosperity for families.
The increased income is an added incentive for families to support women in their pursuits– families who allow and encourage women and girls to gain financial independence will tend to thrive with their new additional income, which gets noticed by the rest of the community. That income often means not having to choose which children will get to go to school- in communities where boys are traditionally prioritized for formal education if money is no longer an issue, girls will also get to attend school. The ripple effects are truly manifold.
Benefits Of Solar Electrification
Solar Electrified households have reported myriad benefits following their installations. From an average of 6.25 hours of kerosene burning per night to 0, the average Indian family saves around 200 rupees per month on costs. Children reported an increase from 1.7 hours of study time per night to 2.4 hours.
Whereas before only 12.4% of villagers deemed the amount of light brightness to be enough during evenings before solar, 100% have responded that the solar light provides sufficient light to see well. After obtaining solar light, 86% of women and girls have reported feeling safe at night. Emissions of black smoke reported dropped from over 97% to nearly zero.
Eye irritation, issues breathing and coughing are all symptoms of kerosene and candle burning that are eliminated with the use of solar. Our beneficiaries all report a noticeable difference in the quality of their health. Women inform our team that sewing, stitching and weaving time have all increased. The average income of our female beneficiaries has increased by 68%, and those with bank accounts have gone from 40% to an incredible 77%.
A Solar Success Story
Inda Jamuda, 42 years old, lives with his family in Mamar village of Singhbhum district in the state of Jharkhand. His family consists of his parents, his wife Birtha Jamuda 35, three daughters and a son. Inda Jamuda has received education up to Inter (Grade 12) and his wife Matric (Grade 10) and all of their children are studying in school.
They have 2 acres of land but most of the land is barren and can no longer be cultivated due to degradation. Farming for income is not a viable option. Because the family has all their children going to school in different places, their family income is insufficient.
There is a light connection in the house but the light is cut off even on normal days. Because the village gets dark early, they have to do all household chores like cooking, studying and mat making in darkness. They have to light kerosene lamps to see; to get kerosene, they have to go to Manoharpur which is about 20 KM away from Mamar. If they burn kerosene for an extended time, it has a direct negative impact on their health.
After Solar Home Lighting Systems were installed by Barefoot College International, the problem of light was solved. His wife can now cook without worrying about time. Children are able to study for examinations even if they are deprived of grid electricity. Mamar itself has a Solar REW which is used for computer training of children, due to which Inda’s daughters are able to learn computers. Now Inda’s mother can weave mats even at night.