Last week, I attended two GRAVIS workshops that demonstrated the variety and versatility of the organization’s work. The first workshop was held on Thursday in Jodhpur, on the subject of community-led drought mitigation, and the second was held on Friday in Jaisalmer, on the subject of maternal health, child survival, and tuberculosis. As an English speaker, I found the workshops somewhat difficult to follow (both were conducted entirely in Hindi), but the main ideas were fairly clear.
The workshop in Jodhpur, titled “Community-Led Drought Mitigation in the Thar,” emphasized how communities can work together to combat the devastating effects of drought in ways that would not be possible for a single household or individual. By collaborating to build rainwater harvesting structures, village ponds, and efficient agricultural systems, residents of the Thar can gain consistent access to food and water, even during times of drought. The availability of clean water and adequate nutrition has wide-ranging benefits for these communities, especially with regard to the health of vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, children, and the elderly.
The workshop in Jaisalmer, titled “Maternal Health, Child Survival, and TB,” had health as its primary focus. Medical treatment is critical for the rural poor, especially mothers, children, and tuberculosis patients, but Rajasthan often falls behind the rest of India (and the world) in providing adequate care. I observed this firsthand on the way to the workshop when I visited a rural village health clinic that was without water or electricity. Despite the presence of a qualified nurse and a dedicated village health committee, the lack of utilities prevented the facility from conducting basic procedures.
At both of last week’s workshops, attendance was high, and the attendees displayed a great deal of interest and enthusiasm. Speakers addressed the crowd from an assortment of backgrounds, and rural residents had multiple chances to express their views.
Through their diverse subject matter, acknowledgement of the Thar’s complicated and interlocking problems, and opportunities for community participation, these workshops showcased GRAVIS’ cooperative and comprehensive approach to rural development.
*Ben Soltoff, Intern