Andhra Pradesh: This Man Is Building A Self Sustainable Village In India’s Second Driest District

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We have met people who built homes or villas or apartments. But have you met anyone who is building a village? No! Then this story of Kalyan Akkipeddi is for you. You may ask me how the village being built by Kalyan is so different from other typical Indian villages. This village generates its own electricity through solar and wind power mill, harvests rainwater, grows its own food, has an alternative school, houses small social enterprises and a recent addition – a skateboard park.

Recently completed skateboard park inside the Proto Village. Image Credit: Anveer Mehta

Kalyan Akkipeddi: The Proto Village’s architect

In 2014, Kalyan bought 12.5 acres of barren land in Tekulodu village in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh and started building the ‘Proto Village’. The village is located in the second driest region in India. You may wonder why Kalyan is building a village from scratch. This is an attempt by Kalyan to create a village prototype that enjoys autonomy with respect to its basic needs through ecologically sustainable ways.

Who are the villagers?

If anyone wants to be a villager in ‘ Proto village ‘, one needs to build their home by collaborating with the other villagers. Are you game for it? There is an interesting story about how Kalyan’s Proto village got its first bunch of villagers.

Before starting Proto Village, Kalyan travelled across India for about 2.5 years between 2008 and  2010. In 2010 he came back to his native district Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and travelled across 166 villages and finally settled in Tekulodu village. There he spent a good amount of time interacting with all the villagers and understood all about the village – from financial conditions to health issues of about 100 families in a span of 100 days.

Proto’s villagers

After this, he chose a family whose annual income is Rs. 6,500 per year and started working with them for the next eight months. During his stay with the family, he worked along with them in their agricultural land and helped them to increase their income to Rs.14,000 per month. One thing Kalyan understood was villagers don’t like preachers but doers.

The success with the family boosted Kalyan’s hope. This prompted Kalyan to start Proto Village. After buying the land, Kalyan invited the villagers to join him in building the village. Ten families from the Tekulodu village volunteered to be part of this new village. All the families will have an equal right to the village as guardians.

Setting up the village

Water Ponds

Just by volunteering, no one can become a villager in Proto. Everyone in the village should do ‘shrama daan.’ Since the village is located in the second driest district in India, the first thing Kalyan and the villagers did was to dig ponds around the land so that when it rains the water gets collected which in turn helps to raise the underground water table. Right now the Proto Village draws water from a depth of 140 feet via a bore well. When they started in 2014, the bore well depth was 240 feet.

One of the ponds in Proto Village

Building homes

You will be surprised to know that Proto Village did not buy any cement but produced their own using limestone and kiln rotated by an ox. All the buildings in the village are built by sourcing the locally available materials. Two homes are built using mud, bamboo, rocks and other naturally available materials.

 

Electricity generation

All the energy needs in the Proto Village are sustained through solar power and wind power mill. A friend of Kalyan helped them in installing the wind turbine before training the villagers how to operate and maintain a wind turbine.

Wind mill

Organic Farming

Kalyan basically bought a barren piece of land which lacked proper topsoil essential for farming. It took them three years to prepare the land, and now it is ready for agriculture. They have planted several saplings around the village to increase the green cover. Also, they have started growing their own organic food in the village.

Organic farming. (Image Credits: Shanti Bandla)

Now they are experimenting with a concept called “One Acre”. Through this experiment, they want to come up with a model of organic farming where different types of vegetables are grown which can sustain food needs for the farmer and also generate income. The excess vegetables are sold in the city.

Sustainable businesses

Proto Village houses a Rural Economic Zone(REZ). The village has a unit of soap making and cold pressed oil units. For making soaps, the heat is generated using the biogas plant installed in the village. All the vegetable waste and human waste is utilised to make the biogas. They sell the soaps to the visitors and to others in the nearby cities. Other village women are also trained in soap making. For cold pressed oil they use peanuts from their farm and also they procure from other village farmers.

Mayabazar

This name may sound weird to you when you realise that ‘Mayabazar’ is the place where the village kids study. Kalyan doesn’t want to name it as a school, so he chose the name ‘Mayabazar’ where students learn everything on their own using the internet and hands-on experience using a ‘makerspace’ which has all the tools required to execute an idea. Teachers teach only Telugu and Hindi and the rest of the subjects are self-learnt by the students.


Makerspace. Image Credits: Shanti Bandla

Mayabazar

Spreading the best practices

Kalyan says, “If anyone wants to understand or replicate our model they are welcome to our village to know more about our best practices. We won’t charge them a penny. We want to be a support system for people who want to replicate our work in their villages.”

A Perfect and Self Sustainable Village In Making

Today, the village generates its own electricity, harvests rainwater and WiFi enabled. Members of ProtoVillage grow their own food as much as possible.

Posted by The Logical Indian on Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Want to visit Proto Village? Write to Kalyan at  [email protected] or call them at 9741746478


Also read: When Drought-Hit Their Husbands’ Jobs, These Feisty Village Housewives Stepped Up To Run Their Families

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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