Established in 1978, NLRDF is the rural CSR arm of the company. The Trust directly intervenes in the development process at the village level. The present operational area in 16 districts of Gujarat state reaches out to a population of about 25000. NLRDF’s strategy has been to link government programs with the rural poor and thereby increasing the efficiency and the effectiveness of the delivery process. Except contextual differences, the needs of the rural poor are very similar to the needs of the urban poor. Poor quality of education, and unemployment, are the banes of rural India. Consequently, the rural areas need vocational programs so that the poorly educated and unemployed youth can find better job prospects in nearby cities. Similarly, the poor children living in rural areas need a better infrastructure in their schools. Finally, the rural poor need help including financial help, for improving the yields in their farms so that they can improve their earnings. NLRDF has designed its programs to fill these needs.

Vocational Programs for rural poor

The Khedbrahma Taluka of Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district is a tribal and a hilly area. Except agriculture, there are no industries that can provide promising career opportunities for the rural youth who are poorly educated and have no marketable skills. Consequently, unemployment is a major problem facing the youth of that region. The irony is that Arvind Limited located in nearby Ahmedabad, is desperately looking for young persons with minimum educational qualifications to work in their garment factory. In this situation, we in NLRDF saw a unique opportunity to help the poor youth in the Khedbrahma taluka. NLRDF’s team requested the Arvind Limited to provide training for about sixty youth from the Taluka for working in the company’s garment factory. The company readily agreed to do so. Now these sixty young persons are working in the company’s garment factory and earning a regular monthly income. More than earning a regular income, these young persons have found a direction for improving their career. If this experiment succeeds, the NLRDF would get more young persons from nearby rural areas to work in the city’s emerging garment industry.

 

Upgrading the infrastructure in a rural primary school

The existing class room of a school in a village is old unsuitable for teaching the school’s children studying in classes I, II, III, and IV. In the monsoon, rain water leaks into the school’s building. Also, the school is short of space for teaching the growing number of children in the area. To meet this crying need for a better infrastructure, the NLRDF constructed in a nearby primary school, a room with RCC structure. In addition, the NLRDF provided the minimum teaching material and equipment that a school needs. After completion of the classroom, the NLRDF handed over to the school the better-equipped classroom

Helping the rural poor in improving the yields in their farms

Non-availability of good quality seeds and poor irrigation facilities impede the productivity of agriculture in rural India. Realizing this need, the NLRDF team provided improved Seeds to sixty-six families in the Tandalia village. These improved seed resulted in better-quality and higher yield for the farmers and required the farmers to use less quantity of water in their farms. Consequently, the productivity of their farms improved. This experience of using better seeds motivated farmers to use good quality seeds in the future. In addition, the team supplied vegetable-seeds to the Self Help Groups of women in the area for their kitchen gardens.

 

 The Khedbrahma taluka of Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district, as we have pointed out above, is a hilly area. Consequently, the land of the area is extremely uneven and therefore, the rain water does not percolate. Obviously, the water table in the region is very low leading to poor crop yields. To remedy the situation, we decided to reduce the slope of the land. For doing so, we “cut and filled” the slopes, making the topography of the land less uneven.

 

Upgrading the infrastructure in a rural schools

 

The existing school buildings in villages Laxmipura, Kalol Naka and Tandalia in Sabarkanta district were old and unsuitable for teaching the school’s children. Also, the school was short of space for teaching the growing number of children in the area. To meet this crying need for a better infrastructure, the NLRDF upgraded existing infrastructure and also constructed classrooms. In addition, the NLRDF provided the minimum teaching material and equipment that a school needed. After completion of the classroom, the NLRDF handed over to the school the better-equipped classroom.

 

Training Widows for Entrepreneurship

 

 NLRDF is recognized by the Government of Gujarat as the lead institution to train widows in different entrepreneurial trainings. During 2007–11, in the area of entrepreneurship training, NLRDF has trained 9600 widows in 16 districts of Gujarat. They were motivated for their own small businesses or service oriented skills to earn more for their livelihood. The biggest benefit that our Trainee widows got was the self-confidence. Another noticeable gain from this program is that they could step out of their houses confidently, which they could not do earlier.

 

Promoting Biogas

 

Other major contribution of NLRDF is to motivate people in rural areas to adopt biogas as an alternative source of energy. We helped install 962 bio gas plants in three districts of Gujarat namely Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad districts.

 

Participation in National Aids Control Program

 

Under National Aids Control Programme, NLRDF has brought remarkable change in the practices and behavior of the target group for HIV/AIDS control. The efforts of the Trust have been recognized by the Expert External Evaluators of the program and they have rated our performance as ‘Very Good” leading to our inclusion among top 5 NGOs in the State for 2009-10. We are working with 1050 key population of urban areas of Himmatnagar, Idar, and Khedbrahma of Sabarkanta District.