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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.

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.

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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.

Mayabazar

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

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

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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