Chairman's message in 2013-14 annual report

Over the past decade, the world has changed significantly. It is more interconnected. Economic and environmental shocks in one geographic region increasingly impact the global scene. Inequality within countries is rising and the majority of the world’s poorest now live in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. By 2030, 60% of the global population will be in urban environments. Although the development sector is adapting to the change, older challenges remain while new, complex ones, continue to arise. Given the fast changing environmental needs, the focus of the Trusts is also changing; creating new structural trends, a new appreciation of learning through interaction, and a healthy opening up to the idea of larger collaboration. Further, in order to enhance sustainability of interventions, the Trusts have recently adopted a cluster-based approach, supporting multiple interlinked activities in identified clusters of contiguous villages across select geographies. The idea is to include livelihoods, health, education, skill development among youth and other relevant interventions in the same geography to ensure sustainable impact and irreversible change in the quality of life of beneficiaries. This unique convergence of different interlinked activities within select clusters is what defines the ‘Matrix Approach’ of the Trusts.

Over the past 80 years, the Trusts have built a systematic agenda across the country, tying in with organizations and individuals to design and implement solutions to problems in issues as varied as water, agriculture, education, health and sanitation. Now, with the changing focus, there is greater involvement in areas like microfinance, market development, delivery systems and data management. Along with this, the Trusts are endeavouring to ensure the incorporation of the following facets in all future engagements; namely: (a) scalability of the interventions; (b) measurable impact; and (c) sustainability of the community served, post withdrawal of the Trusts’ support.

Currently, the Trusts’ work is spread across 170 districts in 17 states of the country, touching the lives of over 800,000 households through interventions that include drinking water and sanitation, health and nutrition, agriculture, education, arts, crafts and culture and skill development. Programmes of the Trusts have seen the disbursal of Rs. 1.48 billion (US $ 24.74 million) during the financial year. These funds include collaboration with government and non-governmental programmes, and have a multi-fold impact on the ground. For example, agricultural interventions targeting tribal households in Jharkhand and Odisha increased food sufficiency by an average of three months. Drinking water and sanitation interventions under the Coastal Area Development Project in Gujarat ensured that almost 75% of the households across 116 villages receive water at their doorstep; consequently, drudgery of women in the form of time spent in collecting water reduced from 90 minutes to under 30 minutes. Similarly, education interventions in Khunti district (Jharkhand) and Nandurbar district (Maharashtra) have shown encouraging results in the learning levels of children. This Annual Report gives an account of many such instances where the support of the Trusts has brought about sustainable change in the lives of the underprivileged.

I would like to recognise and commend the efforts of the Trusts’ teams towards making a difference in enhancing the quality of life of the communities we serve.