History

  • YRA India
  • November 10, 2017

Yuva Rural Association (YRA) is established in the year 2002 and has its head office in Nagpur. YRA is registered under M.P. Society Registration Act 1973 from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Since the inception, we have been undertaking strategic interventions in issues related to livelihoods, natural resource management, gender, social discrimination, governance and human rights in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat and Maharashtra. Since 2010 YRA is concentrating only in Maharashtra with special focus in the Vidarbha region. YRA has project offices in 5 districts of Vidarbha and a strong and dedicated staff of 26 members and thousands of volunteers.

In the last 15 years, YRA has extensively worked towards the development of the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh (Betul, Seoni, Balaghat and Chhindwara districts), Gujarat (Rapar and Patan districts) and Maharashtra (all 11 districts of Vidarbha) especially in the fields of Natural Resource Management, Livelihoods, Gender and Governance. The initiatives undertaken by us have been beneficial to a large number of rural poor. We have undertaken a wide range of activities starting from creating livelihoods opportunities for the poor to protecting vulnerable people including women and children from violence and other social discrimination to making the government schemes available to the people through policy advocacy and lobbying. The various constituency groups that we focus on include small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, dalits, tribals, women, children, youth, people with disability and people living with HIV/AIDS.

The organization is catering to direct interventions in the 11 districts of Vidarbha region and indirect implementation through our collaborative partners in the entire state of Maharashtra. Some of our donors include Oxfam India, SWISSAID India, UNICEF, IFAD, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT), Rangoonwala Foundation, Dilasa, WASSAN and many Government Departments such as the Women and Child Development Department, NABARD, Ministry of Agriculture and Water and Sanitation Department. We are also a part of various networks such as the Vidarbha Livelihoods Forum (VLF), Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA), Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), Vikas Sahayog Pratishthan (VSP), SOSVA Training and Promotion Institute (STAPI) and many more.

In this wonderful and enriching journey that we have experienced, we have been successful in forming People’s Organizations and People’s Institutions, thus increasing the participation, accountability and ownership of our target beneficiaries so that they take the responsibility of their own development. The members of these PO’s and PI’s and the volunteers are assisting in widening the scale and scope of our interventions and this is the biggest strength of the organization. They have helped us in our goal of making the life of the rural people meaningful.

Our Genesis was from the formation and establishment of the Resource & Support Centre for Development (RSCD) as a forum in 1994 by various creditworthy organizations in Western India, including Maharashtra. This forum was established to provide support and build capacities of small grassroots organizations, especially Development Perspective, and to provide them with financial and non-financial support. The member organizations of RSCD took up the region-wise responsibility across western India. Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), Mumbai took up the responsibility of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra as RSCD’s Regional Resource Agency. Mr. Datta Patil took this challenge and shifted from Mumbai to Nagpur in 1994. A 5-year Vidarbha Development Perspective Plan was developed and this plan was implemented during the period 1996 to 2000 through the network of 268 local organizations collectively. YUVA as RRA played a very important role in this implementation.

During this period, apart from the efforts through network, YUVA felt the need for direct interventions in certain development issues that local organizations were not equipped for. This paved path to YUVA’s Rural Unit in Vidarbha till 2002. Strategically this Rural Unit was turned in to an independent organization addressing the issues of the Vidarbha region. As a result of this, Yuva Rural Association (YRA) was registered as an independent entity in 2002 to address the issues in Western India – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. After completion of minimum necessary legal and statutory requirements, Yuva Rural Association designed its first strategic plan for the period between 2003 and 2007. In due course of time, Yuva Rural Association had to withdraw from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat due to local leadership and human resources issues.

In 2011, Yuva Rural Association received all necessary registration in place and since then has become a completely independent legal entity undertaking projects and programmes in collaboration with government, national and international donors with its head office in Nagpur. YRA is registered under M.P. Society Registration Act 1973 from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Since the inception, we have been undertaking strategic interventions in issues related to livelihoods, natural resource management, gender, social discrimination, governance and human rights. Since 2010 YRA has made it specific operations only in Maharashtra with special focus in the Vidarbha region. YRA has project offices in 5 districts of Vidarbha and a strong and dedicated staff of more than 30 members and hundreds of volunteers.

In the last 16 years, YRA has extensively worked towards the development of the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh (Betul, Seoni, Balaghat and Chhindwara districts), Gujarat (Rapar and Patan districts) and Maharashtra (all 11 districts of Vidarbha) especially in the fields of Natural Resource Management, Livelihoods, Gender and Governance. The initiatives undertaken by us have been beneficial to a large number of rural poor. We have undertaken a wide range of activities starting from creating livelihoods opportunities for the poor to protecting vulnerable people including women and children from violence and other social discrimination to making the government schemes available to the people through policy advocacy and lobbying. The various constituency groups that we focus on include small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, Dalits, tribals, women, children, youth, people with disability and people living with HIV/AIDS.

The organization is catering to direct interventions in the 11 districts of Vidarbha region and indirect implementation through our collaborative partners in the entire state of Maharashtra. Some of ourpast and current donors include Oxfam India, SWISSAID India, UNICEF, IFAD, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT), Rangoonwala Foundation, Dilasa, WASSAN, Bread for the World, UNDP MoTA, HDFC Bank, HDBFS, EdelGive Foundation etc.  and many Government Departments such as the Women and Child Development Department, NABARD, Ministry of Agriculture and Water and Sanitation Department, We are also a part of various networks such as the Vidarbha Livelihoods Forum (VLF), Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA), Revitalization of Rainfed Agricutlure Network, NPMi network,  Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), Vikas Sahayog Pratishthan (VSP), SOSVA Training and Promotion Institute (STAPI),

In this wonderful and enriching journey that we have experienced, we have been successful in forming People’s Organizations and People’s Institutions, thus increasing the participation, accountability and ownership of our constituencies that enabled them taking the responsibility of their own development. The members of these PO’s and PI’s and the volunteers are assisting in widening the scale and scope of our interventions and this is the biggest strength of the organization. They have helped us in our goal of making the life of the rural people meaningful.

The Vidarbha region is one of the most backward regions of the state. The problems in this region are enormous. It is an industrially backward region as compared to the rest of Maharashtra. A large percentage of the people rely on agriculture for their subsistence. The only means to develop this region is by improving the agricultural productivity with the development of irrigated agriculture. The only way to do this is to increase the irrigation potential of this region. Only 4% of the area in Vidarbha is under irrigation. The presence of other livelihood opportunities and agro-allied activities such as dairy units, animal husbandry, rearing units, processing units etc. are negligible in this region. As a result, the people here are mainly dependent on agriculture which suffers also due to the extreme climatic conditions in the region.

The issue of farmer’s suicides in the Vidarbha region has been in the news since the year 2004. Since then, it has been seen that in spite of many efforts by the government, the number of farmers committing suicides is still high and on the rise.

The above issue does not start or end with the farmers giving away their lives. The families of these farmers – their widows, children, parents etc. are further burdened. The loans shift to their shoulders apart from the loss of an earning member of their family. Again, initiatives such as the promotion of agro-allied activities and other livelihoods, crop insurance, marketing channels for farmers, financial security, farmer’s package etc. are essential for the benefit of the farmers in the region.

The Vidarbha region has a lot of forest cover and a number of people, especially tribals, are dependent on the forests for their livelihoods source. The Central Government ordinance in June 1980 followed by the Forest Conservation Act thereafter, created impediments to the development programs in Vidarbha. The other regions of the state did not suffer because there was hardly any forest cover left in those regions. Consequently, a very serious setback to the development of Vidarbha was received in the form of environmental clearance of the pending projects. Even now, the villagers staying in or near the forest areas face huge hurdles due to the stringent measures of the Forest Department and face a lot of issues in undertaking their traditional livelihoods. Recently, the Government has started recognizing the Community Forest Claims but there is still a long way to go before the people get a right to their natural resources. Government of India enacted Forest Right Act and it is in force. YRA facilitated almost 11 villages for getting the management plans prepared for their Community Forest Right land. YRA is planning to cover more villages in Bhandara and Gondiya districts.

The situation of women and children in Vidarbha has definitely improved over the years but it is still not up to the mark. Even in this century, women in Vidarbha face a lot of difficult situations. They are not given proper education and their social status is considered to be lower than men. Single women (widows, unmarried, orphans), Dalit, tribal and rural women face a lot of problems in the society. They do not have any property registered in their names and they are also not financially or politically empowered. Many of these women are not even aware of the various acts, schemes and policies that have been put in place for their own welfare. Child labour, especially in the cotton growing belt, is also rampant. Children also lack the provision of good health and education facilities. Health and nutrition is also a major problem for the women and children of Vidarbha. According to an MSSRF report, at least 90 percent of women in Vidarbha are chronically anemic and have several vitamin deficiencies. Many women have been forced to work hard for long hours and take care of their fields after the death of their husbands. YRA is an active part of the network of Anemia Free Vidarbha.

In spite of various laws set against dowry in our country, the dowry system is still very much prevalent in Vidarbha region, especially in its rural areas. Women are physically and mentally abused by their in-laws for dowry and there have been many cases of dowry-related deaths as well. There have also been cases of women who have been abandoned by their husbands. There are cases of bigamy and second marriages without legally divorcing the first wives. This leads to the women being deprived of the rightful custody of their children and also lack in the share of house and property.

The discrimination of the people, especially the youth, is widespread. People from the minorities such as Muslims, Dalits and Tribals face a lot of discrimination till date. There are not enough opportunities for the youth in the region. Lack of proper education, lack of livelihoods makes these youth undertake socially illegal activities. Government has many programs, schemes of benefits to the poor but in fact those do not reach to the needy and right people for many reasons.

The above reasons are not exhaustive. There are many more problems that the people in this region face even today. It is with the focus on addressing these issues that Yuva Rural Association concentrates its efforts in this region. Currently YRA is focusing on “Livelihood” from a larger perspective that covers quality education, safe drinking water, soil and water conservation, sanitation, Food and nutrition, health etc from the lenses of equality, sustainability as also addressing the SDGs–Sustainable Development Goals.

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