2020 - 2021


We are driven by our commitment to equity and dignity for all.

We are driven by our commitment to equity and dignity for all.

The effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the poor was huge, as their avenues for seeking out livelihood opportunities were badly affected. With the first wave of COVID-19 sweeping Odisha, more than 50% of the Gram Vikas staff got affected, and many were hospitalised. In interior tribal villages, life became more and more difficult due to the strict lockdown policy that prevented travel. These are villages that are interdependent for daily necessities of life and human labour. As people slowly got used to government-imposed and self-imposed lockdowns, they began to look for employment opportunities. I am glad that Gram Vikas could play a meaningful role in the areas that we work in, especially in tribal pockets. My colleagues in Gram Vikas have gone through a lot of hardship and suffering because of this pandemic. They, however, proved their mettle. At the risk of being affected by the coronavirus, they reached relief materials into areas, where no one else dared to go. I am proud of them. I must also add that nothing less was expected of them.

Joe Madiath


The year 2020-21 was a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns. The Gram Vikas teams worked together to ensure that the challenges were faced head on, and the work with the community partners continued with utmost competence. Our COVID-19 response supported migrant workers stranded across India, ensured food supply to needy households, helped local governments to plan and execute activities for income support under MGNREGS, and established village level education centres for school children who could not access online learning options. During the year, we developed two multi-faceted programme platforms – the Water Secure Gram Panchayat programme and the Safe and Dignified Migration Programme - that will form the basis of our work in the coming years. We are grateful to our donor partners and resource support agencies, whose assistance was key to us being able to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic. I am honoured to present the annual report of the year from April 2020 to March 2021.

Liby T Johnson

Executive Director

Read the messages from the Chairman & Executive Director

During 2020-’21, we focused on supporting all our partner villages to cope with the pandemic, while taking up various programmatic activities. Our efforts made Village Development Committees effective and accountable, built institutional platforms, and developed rural service providers with accounting and auditing skills. We continued to provide access to safe drinking water, created a community cadre of water sustainability service providers, and strengthened the Water Resources Technology Group. Programmes in safe migration and farm livelihoods evolved into comprehensive interventions, and technology adoption aided better farming decisions and incomes. The groundwork done in sanitation and hygiene behaviour over the past years proved invaluable in helping us respond to the health crisis caused by COVID-19. In solid and liquid waste management, we focussed substantially on household-level behaviours and practices that will support the scaling and deepening of the intervention. We continued our work on renewable energy and using information and communication technologies to support farmers, migrant workers, teachers, students, and frontline health workers. Going forward, two key programmes developed in the past year, the Water Secure Gram Panchayat programme and the Safe and Dignified Migration Programme, will bring together work from various thematic areas under the Gram Vikas Decade V strategic framework.

We reached 27,338 households in 523 villages through our diverse areas of work in 2020-21.

Our interventions are guided by our Movement and Action Network for Transformation of Rural Areas (MANTRA) approach. It initiates sustainable development processes in villages with water and sanitation as an entry point. Built around the core values of 100% inclusion of individuals and households in the village, MANTRA enables complete ownership and cost-sharing by the community, social and gender equality, and sustainability. This ensures that the benefits are shared equally among all irrespective of sex, caste, creed or economic status.


Multipronged efforts help communities cope with the emerging crises of health, livelihoods, food security, and education & youth

Our COVID-19 response began on 15 March 2020, four days after WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. We took accurate and reliable information about coronavirus and safety measures and conducted regular household-level screening in our partner villages. Migrant workers and their families got access to a multilingual 24x7 grievance redressal helpline, food and accommodation in destination sites, and psychosocial support. We worked closely with the Village Development Committees and the local governments to identify and generate work under MGNREGS. Our cadre of community mobilisers identified and helped households avail of social protection for food and cash from the government. Our Food Support Programme reached food and essential materials to the most vulnerable struggling with no work and income. We set up village-level technology-equipped learning centres that made continued education possible for first-generation learners from remote Adivasi habitations. We are thankful to the many individuals and volunteers who supported our COVID-19 work.


25,000 households across 750 villages learn about COVID-19 and measures to stay safe

15,696 migrant workers across 857 villages receive support for their physical and emotional wellbeing 

80,488 households learn about social protection schemes and 21,914 are linked with relevant schemes

5,734 households in 154 villages get food and material support

306 children continued their education through 20 learning centres



Bolangir, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Keonjhar, Khurdha, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarh, Nuapada, Rayagada, Sundargarh




Widow pension after a year of follow-up

Seventy-year-old Gohala Bag lost her husband, Akrura Bag, to a prolonged illness six years ago. Her repeated efforts to get the widow pension was unsuccessful until she met the community mobiliser from Gram Vikas. Gohala is one of 7952 people from 1200 villages in rural Odisha who accessed social protection as part of our focused COVID-19 response campaign. Read the story.


Strengthened Village Institutions & Convergence with panchayats, and community cadres enable stronger self-governance by communities

The different interventions and programmes under Village Institutions & Convergence sought to advance gender equity in the leadership of village development committees (VDCs), and increase transparency and accountability of the institution towards households. We renewed our emphasis on strengthening the VDCs and engaging self help groups to develop Village Poverty Reduction Plans (VPRP). Our interventions sensitised villagers, VDC leaders, and elected PRI members to equip them to demand their rights and include VPRP in the Gram Panchayat Development Plan. We identified and trained a cadre of Village Lekha Mitra for supporting VDCs to maintain their records and registers and reconcile the VDC book of accounts. We developed a comprehensive protocol on Cadre Management for the VDCs to select, build capacities, and monitor the performance of community cadres.


397 existing and potential VDC leaders from 98 villages were trained on leadership development

90 youth from 44 villages trained on the use of smartphones

28 community leaders, including SHG leaders from five villages, trained on VPRP development

1106 women SHG leaders from 236 SHGs trained on leadership development

193 sessions on different social and life-skill issues organised for members of children’s institutions called the Child Clubs

Awareness sessions conducted for villagers and VDC leaders on the functioning of PRI and the importance of Gram Sabha and Palli Sabha in 119 villages

17 sensitisation sessions conducted for 281 elected PRI leaders from 34 Gram Panchayats 

39 Village Lekha Mitras identified and seven trained



Gajapati, Ganjam, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Keonjhar, Khurdha, Nayagarh, Rayagada, Sundargarh




Self-help group revives traditional millet, supports youth education and supports for other emergencies in the village

In December 2016, twelve women in Digribandha village, with support from Gram Vikas, got together to form the Maa Mahalakshmi SHG. The members encouraged each other to save ₹20 every month. Instead of the usual internal lending that SHGs do, the women decided to pool the money to start an enterprise. About a year later, the women’s initiative and self-confidence convinced the Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM) to sanction the group a loan of ₹50,000 in February 2018. The SHG used the money for farming, supported high school education of needy students, and gave health emergency support for families in the village. Read the story.


100% functional household tap connections, technology adoption, and community cadres ensure water access, quality, and source sustainability

Through our work in Water, we strive to ensure continuous availability of safe drinking water, adequate flow of water for domestic and productive uses, and sustainability of water resources. During the year, we commissioned new piped water supply systems (PWSS) with 100% functional household tap connections (FHTCs), piloted a remote monitoring and data logging system to track PWSS functionality, and a household level water storage and IoT sensor-based distribution. We took steps to protect, sustain and grow water aquifers. We launched a Springs Stewardship Fellows programme to train young people on watershed, springsheds, and nursery management. We built community capacities to manage the water quality management systems and established water quality testing protocols, and set up a central water quality testing laboratory in Mohuda.


Commissioned PWSS in 44 habitations with 100% FHTCs covering 2171 households

Revived older non-functional PWSS in six habitations

86 village level cadres trained to manage community level natural resources management work related to watershed and springshed

256 acres of catchment area treated using springshed and watershed principles

Completed mapping and inventorisation of spring-based water resources in 100 habitations 

Built capacities of 50 village communities to manage the water quality management systems independently 

Established water quality testing protocols across 149 villages



Gajapati, Ganjam, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Keonjhar, Khurdha, Nayagarh, Rayagada, Sundargarh




Water impact stories from our partner villages

Water supply during the pandemic time benefitted community multitudinously

When the COVID-19 countrywide lockdown was announced in March 2020, Jengapada village in Sundergarh district of Odisha was halfway towards receiving piped-water supply. The Village Water and Sanitation Committee came forward, assumed responsibility, and showed everyone how such a daunting task could be completed through proper planning and management even while following all COVID-19 safety protocols. Read the story.

The unrelenting efforts of a young woman is making her community water secure

Shantilata, 28, a tribal woman of the Tukuguda village, Kalahandi, became the Secretary for the Village Development Committee after her village started facing severe water shortages affecting drinking water supply and livelihoods. Together with the entire community, she successfully solved the water supply and quality related issues in her village. Her efforts as a “woman water champion” has been recognised by UNDP India and Stockholm International Water Institute. Read the story.

A newly acquired skill of a cadre that guarantees safe water to the entire community

Tapan Kumar Mohanta is one of the 28 Water Quality Monitoring (WQM) cadres for his village in Keonjhar district of Odisha. He received training from Gram Vikas on testing water for nitrate, fluoride, and bacteria. He was earlier under the impression that “testing of water” involves a lot of science and only highly qualified and trained professionals can handle the task. Now he uses this knowledge and skill to get quality water to his village, Sialijoda. Read the story.


Safe migration initiatives help youth make informed job choices, producer company and technology applications boost farm incomes

We developed the Safe and Dignified Migration programme under which we evolved a corridor approach for safe migration, set up source and destination level migrant resource centres, and trained women as geriatric caregivers. Our mentorship to the Prakruti Bandhu Farmer Producer Company empowered small farmers with knowledge and access to quality inputs and crop management, through installation of automatic micro weather stations for forecasting and ICTs for dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge, and by facilitating linkages to interest-free working capital loans. We facilitated socio-technical measures for community level systems to improve farming practices and coverage in Nayagarh district. We initiated a longer-term livelihood development intervention focused on horticulture, skilling of youth and strengthening women self-help groups to take up productive enterprises for a cluster of villages affected by tropical cyclone Fani.


121 migrant workers benefitted from the safe and dignified migration programme

135 migrant workers from Kalahandi were given support for transportation and job placement

79 new members and four village level groups added to the Prakruti Bandhu Farmer Producer Company, ₹5.53 lakh revenue and net profit of ₹37,000 generated for the FPC 

15 habitations get quality seeds of corn, vegetables, and paddy during Kharif and winter seasons

₹ 12.95 lakh interest-free working capital loans raised for farmers to address the crisis caused by COVID-19

1052 households across 28 villages benefit from automatic micro weather stations

435 farmers organised into 37 Farmer Producer Groups, and financial support extended to 69 households in 17 villages to set up small businesses, in Nayagarh

714 households in seven habitations, affected by Cyclone Fani, benefitted from mason training, and support for business plan development and access to financing for SHGs



Gajapati, Ganjam, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Khordha, Nayagarh, Sundergarh


Livelihood impact stories from our partner villages

Informed choices helping youth design their future better

As part of our Safe and Dignified Migration programme, a Migration Resource Centre was set up at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district which prepared the skill competency profiles of migrant workers. The skill profiles helped connect the migrant workers with prospective employers so that they can choose options that were best suited to their experience and expertise. Read the story on how it helped Ranjan and Prahlad from Kalahandi find dignified job options in Kerala.

Micro weather stations aid better crop planning and water smart farming

The Micro-Automatic weather station (mAWS) is a solar-powered wireless sensor device that stores data and provides real time weather alerts, temperature, wind direction, humidity, rain and disease advisories. Our Gram Vikas’ Smart Community Interface initiative gives farmers access to local market price of the produce over SMS, and weather forecast over a 10-kilometre radius of a mAWS. Read the story on how mAWS helps farmers in Ganjam district to save on costs, plan better, decide on crop diversification, reduce crop loss, and earn better.

Self-determined women in groups come together to create sustainable livelihoods

Hathigadhuasahi is a small hamlet deep inside the Chandaka forest, in Odisha’s Khordha district. It has 31 households of Santal and Kolho Adivasi communities. On 3 May 2019, Cyclone Fani severely damaged the Hathigadhuasahi habitation. In December 2019, Gram Vikas started working with seven Fani-affected habitations in the Chandaka region. We started working on strengthening the women’s self-help groups to create sustainable livelihoods. Today the groups are ushering in community level change on more than just livelihoods. Read the story.


Availability of sanitation infrastructure, safe management of drinking water, child feces and solid-liquid waste contributed to improved personal health and physical environment

We built sanitation infrastructure, enabled behaviour change in sanitation and hygiene, and promoted safe management of child faeces and hand washing. Communities learnt about safe handling of drinking water, personal hygiene, kitchen sanitation, and setting up of nutrition gardens, and solid and liquid waste management. We mobilised adolescents into groups and conducted discussions on menstrual health, hygiene, and life skills.


534 households completed the construction of toilets and bathing rooms during the year.

34 villages formed groups of adolescent girls and boys 

2397 households in eight districts benefit from adolescent health programme 9,660 households in 229 villages learn about personal hygiene, preventive measures for COVID-19 and kitchen sanitation 

7,773 households in 168 habitations learnt about grey water management and 80% of these households raised backyard vegetable gardens using the greywater discharge



Gajapati, Ganjam, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Khordha, Nayagarh, Sundergarh




Sanitation & Hygiene impact stories from our partner villages

A long ordeal came to an end as women safeguarded their right to safe sanitation

Manju Munda is the President of the Village Development Committee and a sanitation warrior of Bileipada Mainsahi, a small village of 89 households in Joda block of Keonjhar district in Odisha. Most of the 47 Adivasi households in the village did not have a toilet or bathroom and had to defecate and bathe in the open. Looking back at how hard it was to bring about better health and safe sanitation among the residents of her village, Manju Munda believes she could achieve it only when other women in her village were convinced and joined her for the mission. Read the story.

User-centred design accelerates adoption of behaviour change in child faeces management

Last October, Jaleripentho village felicitated Sandhyarani as an “Ideal Mother” for inspiring other caregivers in her community to practice safe disposal of child faeces. Her leadership is one of the early successes from Gram Vikas’ initiative to influence behaviour change in safe child faeces management (CFM) in 80 villages of Odisha. The programme aims to change a dominant belief among the people that the faeces of infants and young children are harmless. The gains in the behaviour change programme, which started in 2019, are reinforced by the creation of novel CFM hardware – a wooden potty – made available for use at the household level. Read the story.

Local solutions contributing to global problems

The construction of toilets and bathing rooms helps in ending the practice of open defecation once and for all. However, management of daily waste continues to be a bottleneck towards achieving total sanitation. While the biodegradable waste is mostly managed as compost, it is the non-biodegradable waste that pose a challenge in rural areas which includes both recyclable and non-recyclable waste. Read the story on how in many of our operational villages, children are on a mission to safeguard the environment and community health.

Waste water management helps families eat nutritious food and earn alongside

When Naranga Naik started in July 2020, she was the only one in her village, Balita Pokharipada, to start a vegetable garden. She benefitted from the piped water supply system in her village set up by Gram Vikas. Gram Vikas trained all households in the village to set up kitchen gardens in the final month of setting up the integrated water sanitation system. Soon Naranga started growing vegetables that not only fed her family but also earned her extra income. Read the story on how Naranga’s success inspired 40 other households to start vegetable gardens.

Adolescent girls break the taboo to lead conversations on menstrual health in their families

Menstruation is no longer a taboo topic of discussion for adolescent girls in Udaypur village of Nayagarh district. The village has two such Adolescent Groups in the village, each having 10 girls in the adolescent age group. Gram Vikas organised awareness sessions with an aim to educate adolescent girls on physiological and psychological changes during adolescence, cognitive development, identity and social development, menstrual health and hygiene management, reproductive tract infections, etc. Read the story on how girls are able to better care for themselves and lead conversations within their families and peers on menstrual health.


ICT systems bolster farm livelihoods and ease migrant workers connect to their families, renewable energy powers off-the-grid Adivasi habitations

Village-level information-communication systems reached weather forecast and crop advisory to farmers in remote villages, aided widespread dissemination of multimedia materials for COVID awareness, and helped migrant workers speak to their families. We trained a local cadre of technicians and operators to ensure regular preventive and general maintenance of solar pumping systems and the mini-grids in the villages. We started the preparatory work for the revival of a micro hydro project and used solar water-pumping solutions to augment and revive water supply systems.


430 households benefited from our work on village-level information-communication systems 

Solar water pumping solutions augmented and revived piped water supply systems in 68 villages 

3,446 households gained access to lighting and water through our work in renewable energy



Gajapati, Ganjam, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Khordha




Smart Community Interface technology enables online learning possible in no network zones

Many first generation learners, from remote, hilly areas in Odisha, had their education disrupted due to the closure of schools following the COVID-19 outbreak. This was accelerated by the unavailability of digital learning resources, poor internet connectivity, frequent power outages, or not having the required devices. Gram Vikas enabled technology equipped Learning Centres (LC) that took classrooms to the children. This has been made possible because of the Smart Community Project which creates a community-owned and managed model of information management. Read the story on learning centres.


Digital avenues supported in teachers’ skill enhancement and enabled children to make informed decisions about their future

We have made continuous efforts over the last six years to build a strong digital infrastructure for the four Gram Vikas residential schools for children from Adivasi communities. During the initial days of COVID-19 lockdown, the school teachers made an effort to reach out to students in the communities and started taking classes at a common place so that students did not disengage with learning completely. We used the shutdown of schools as an opportunity to focus more on teachers’ skill enhancement programmes. All subject teachers prepared fresh e-learning content and conducted demo smart classes at the school level. The Career Guidance Cells, at these schools, guided young men and women with information about suitable academic institutions, cut-off marks for admission, SC-ST reservation entitlements, scholarships and vocational skills development centres.


25 Science and Mathematics teachers participated in online teachers training on STEM activities by Resource Persons from Pratham and NITI Aayog

69 teachers enrolled in online courses and received certification on operating educational apps

90 young men and women chose appropriate higher education avenues 

Gram Vikas High School (GVHS), Kankia was selected as the Atal Tinkering Lab School of the Month seven times this academic year.

Students from GVHS received the INSPIRE Awards from the Department of Science & Technology for preparation of innovative science models.

23 students from the four schools qualified for admission into schools set up by Ministries of State and Central Government. This has been possible because of online coaching and mock sessions conducted earlier. 

12 students qualified for Pathani Samanta Mathematics Scholarship test, two for the National Rural Talent Scholarship and 23 students won scholarships conducted by Odisha State Government for primary students.

Gram Vikas Vidya Vihar was the only school from Odisha to have been selected amongst the “30 most inspiring ideas of change” in the DFC-UNICEF YuWaah Youth Challenge.



Gajapati, Ganjam, Kalahandi


Sectoral contributions and partnerships bolstered our efforts

Gram Vikas joined the RCRC (Rural Community Response to COVID) Coalition of non-government organisations across India in May 2020. Being part of RCRC helped us learn from the experiences of peer organisations, in different States of India, in facing up to the challenges posed by the pandemic and the lockdowns. The research work undertaken by RCRC helped build clear evidence on the situation on ground, and helped take up issues with the Union and State governments. The Odisha State chapter for RCRC, with six member organisations, has taken up joint action on several fronts. Gram Vikas is anchoring the overall communication effort for the State Coalition.

We also actively participated in the discussions and deliberations of the Odisha Civil Society Action group, consisting of nearly 100 organisations from Odisha. We continued to be active members of the Rural Water Supply Network and the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

Our partnership with the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development and the ESAF Small Finance Bank has helped shape the Safe and Dignified Migration programme in the Odisha-Kerala corridor and prepare migration profiles of four blocks in four districts of Odisha.

The partnership with Urban Management Centre Asia is helping us devise the programme on the Ganjam-Surat migration corridor. Life Circle Health Services Limited, a Hyderabad based social enterprise partnered with us to train women in geriatric care-giver services, enabling many young women to find meaningful skill building and employment.

ACWADAM, Pune, has been supporting us with capacity building and knowledge management for springshed work since 2018. The partnership has continued during the year, enabling the Water Resources Technology Group to take up more intensive resource mapping exercises to prepare for the Water Secure Gram Panchayat Programme.

We continued our partnership with AguaClara Reach, the Cornell University social enterprise, to develop capabilities for building community-managed drinking water treatment units. During the year, we established a new partnership with INREM Foundation, Anand, Gujarat, for deepening our work on water quality management in the villages.

The collaboration with Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University has helped us build a better understanding of behavioural issues around safe sanitation and enhance staff level capacities for deeper work with communities.

Sunlit Future, Auroville, continues to support us in the area of solar energy applications. The partnership with Goonj has helped deepen our understanding of disaster response issues, and also enabled us to provide material support to communities affected by natural disasters.

The partnership with the State Bank of India Foundation, under the Youth for India Fellowship continued into its eighth year. Professionals from TREE Society supported us to build project management capabilities of staff members, with a special focus on management of piped water supply projects.

Thank you to our donor and resource support partners

The immense support from our donors and resource support agencies was key to us being able to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arghyam provided initial support for our work on safe and dignified migration in the Kalahandi-Kerala corridor. The Azim Premji Foundation-Philanthropy is supporting the first phase of the Water Secure Gram Panchayat Programme.

The support from charity: water continues to enable us to take up piped water supply projects in smaller, remote habitations that are not covered under the plans of the State Government.

ESAF Small Finance Bank supported the resource centres for safe migration in Kalahandi. InterGlobe Foundation has continued its support for revival of natural resources in Thuamul Rampur block of Kalahandi district. LIC Housing Finance Limited is supporting our work in seven peripheral villages of Bhubaneswar City.

The partnership with Mahanadi Coalfields Limited in Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts, and Tata Steel Long Products Limited in Keonjhar districts came to an end during the year. The fruitful partnership enabled us to provide integrated water and sanitation facilities in remote villages in the districts.

This was also the last year of our six-year long partnership with Oracle Giving through Charities Aid Foundation, India, which enabled us to strengthen our work on use of technologies for education and livelihoods. The HDFC Bank Parivartan partnership for the Holistic Rural Development Project in Nayagarh continued into its fourth year.

We entered into a new partnership with the SBI Foundation for our work in renewable energy. Tetra Tech USA continued to provide support for our work on child faeces management and sanitation behaviour change as part of the WaSHPaLs programme of USAID.

Our abilities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns were enhanced by the support provided by the Skoll Foundation through Gram Vikas USA, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Wipro Foundation.

Our partnership with the Government of Odisha continued during the year. Support from the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project (OTELP), which had begun in 2004, ended during the year after supporting our work with remote, adivasi communities in Gajapati and Kalahandi districts.

We remain trusted partners for the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation organisation under the Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Department. The partnership with the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) continued during the year.

111,443 households have benefitted from Gram Vikas’ partnership with village communities in Odisha and Jharkhand since 1979.

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