Q&A: GRAVIS

Discussion Forum

PWX members can use this space to discuss elements of the Organization. PWX members can post questions or comments and they will be seen by everybody. Any PWX member can respond to the questions and comments, not just the submitter.

Welcome

Posted almost 8 years ago

We are very happy to have GRAVIS as a member of our exchange.

Congratulations for putting your efforts in the sector of water, health and environment in a difficult and drought prone area.

As you are working in water sector for last 29 years have you made any research or impact assessment of the projects where we can see the impact in terms of socio and economic gains?
You have formed different CBO’S in the community; how do you work? do you work through the CBO’S or directly with the community?
Are these CBO’s registered with the government bodies? Do you work with village health and sanitation committees which is a government body in the village?
How many years do you work in one village?
Regards,
Kusum

Welcome

Posted almost 8 years ago

Dear Kusum Gaur - thanks for your comment.

We have conducted a number of researches and assessment studies on our work. A number of these are available in the forms of printed booklets. We do not have the soft copies of the same but will upload some our PDFs on our website soon. Currently, you make look at the titles of these on our website in the publications section.

Our work is indeed implemented through CBOs, which includes Village Development Committees (VDCs) and Self Help Groups (SHGs). In monitoring of health programmes, we have worked with VHSCs too. In total, GRAVIS has so far formed over 2,500 CBOs in Thar. The CBOs are not registered with the Govt, but they have an important role in planning, implentation and monitoring of our projects.

We usually work for long term in a village which could be about 8 to 12 years depending on need and other aspects.

Welcome

Posted almost 8 years ago

Nice to learn that you have conducted research on water projects, I will be happy to go through them.

It is really good to work with CBOs and build their capacity to sustain the project.

Please share with us one success story where one of your village CBO’s is continuing to work without your support after your intervention has finished.

Are you using the traditional technology in making tankkas or you have come up new modifications?

About your Best practises

Posted over 7 years ago

At the outset, allow me to introduce us. We are Gram Vikas Mandal of Dethali village. A small village in Mehsana District of Gujarat. Since the formation of our self help group, we have been active in our village's uplifting through solving water related crisis, with active help of some of the members here.

I want to take this opportunity to learn from your organization, which has been active since 30 years. Since we are only one third of you, it will be good opportunity to enrich from your past experience. If you can share some of the best practices from your experience on following few matters.

(1) How many presidents you had so far?
(2) What criteria you followed for choosing president? Community Background? Financial strength? Ability to spare time? Age? kindly let us know some of your ideas.
(3) How do you decide which kind of projects to be taken up? Do you do it based on the request from ground? Or from the collective wisdom of the office bearers?

Once again, its an absolute honour to interact with you through this forum. Do look forward to learn from your precious experience.

Mayur Shah
Gram Vikas Mandal, Dethali.

About your Best practises

Posted over 7 years ago

Dear Sh. Mayur Shah,

Thank you for your comments and it is very good to know about your organization.

When you ask about the President, I assume you are talking about the Presidents of the SHGs. GRAVIS facilitates the process but the decisions are in the hands of women. Economics does not matter much though because almost all women in a group from a similar economic background. Women, however, opt to choose their leaders based on leadership potential and experience. Office bearers are rotated after two years.

The decisions on our new projects are always made through community consultation and based on people's needs. A lot of our water harvesting work is actually based on people's traditional knowledge. GRAVIS works in the most remote villages of Thar, where the need is the most. Representatives of communities are in our various committees including our Governing Board.

Thank you for your kind words. We all have so much to learn fro each other. We send you our very good wishes.

Regards,

Prakash

About your Best practises

Posted over 7 years ago

Dear Sir,

Thanks a lot. I did mean SHG and am very happy to reflect from your answers.

With warm regards,

Mayur

Welcome to PWX!

Posted almost 8 years ago

Its an honour to link with an organization with almost 30 years of experience.

Thank you for listing your water history. After you become a member, we will be happy to work with you to map out all your project history to share with the world better.

I want to start with questions about the population and sustainability: with your low rainfall, what do you believe is the population that can be served with rainwater harvesting and shallow wells (the traditional sources)?

Do you have some statistics on the population growth? Is it stabilizing? Is it possible to meet their water demands without tapping into deep aquifers and long-distance piped water supplies?

Thanks,
Rajesh

Welcome to PWX!

Posted almost 8 years ago

Thank you for the comment.

The population growth is significant in the Thar Desert. The decadal growth is about 15%. While a lot of people migrate out of Thar temporarily in search of work, but they do return to their villages after the drought is over. Hence, the population is stable and further increasing.

Ground water has problems of being very deep and saline. Hence, our focus remains on rain-water harvesting through small-scale structures. Our efforts over last 30 years have been successful and 55,000 households have attained greater water security. Therefore, we believe there is a good scope for further replication and reaching more households.

Welcome to PWX!

Posted almost 8 years ago

Nice to learn that you have conducted research on water projects, I will be happy to go through them.

It is really good to work with CBO's and build their capacity to sustain the project.

Please share with us one success story where one of your village CBO’s is continuing to work without your support after your intervention has finished.

Are you using the traditional technology in making tankkas or you have come up new modifications?

Welcome to PWX!

Posted almost 8 years ago

Thanks Kusum. Our website will be updated in next weeks and hopefully you will have access to the publications.

There are a number of villages as example where the CBOs have continued work after project's financial support. One such example is a village called Bhalu Rajwan in Jodhpur district where the local communities have continued its efforts on water conservation and education over many years.

We do adopt local knowledge on water harvesting, but bring in a number of innovations aimed at improving efficiency, reducing the cost and ensuring solidity of structures.

Organizational Sustainability

Posted almost 8 years ago

It is wonderful to know about your work.

Having spent years with a large, reputed, 30+ year old, grassroots organization, I have become concerned about human resources and financial sustainability, and how they effect the genuine intentions of well established organizations working in difficult regions.

Are any of these issues applicable to your organization? How have you dealt with them?

1. The organization raises funds without having utilized funds for projects that are in progress.

2. The organization is not able to retain less formally educated staff that have helped to build the organization's specialized field knowledge, mainly because the organization focuses on recruiting mainstream educated staff with little field experience, ironically as the next line of leadership.

3. Without effective field staff and experienced managers, the organization fails to meet targets and yet has to keep up with paying the higher salaries, and hence signs up for even higher targets.

4. The spiraling cycle of loosing staff but gaining targets to maintain funds, diverts the organization from its founding mission.

Organizational Sustainability

Posted almost 8 years ago

Thank you for your questions.

We certainly look for new projects and resources while some of our work is in progress, keeping long-term goals in view. But, we spend most of our raised resources within a financial year and usually attain set targets in a given time-frame.

While retention of staff can be somewhat challenging, but in our work retention of field staff is much higher than of office team. More than 90% of our team is of field based staff.

We have a very strong field team supported by a decent managerial team. But our strength is our field team. GRAVIS has so far not faced major challenges in meeting its targets due to staff availability issues.

Organizational Sustainability

Posted almost 8 years ago

Thanks, Prakash,

To build upon my experiences, I've recently been studying development organizations and what makes thrive. Your metrics make sense and provide worthwhile insight for other large, well-established organizations:

A strong field based team with high retention will of course lead to meeting your targets. The more experienced your field team, the more practical knowledge and innovation you will develop, leading to better quality and more sustainable work. I'm glad 90% of your team is field based. :)

A couple of more questions, if you don't mind:

1. Do you sense some hierarchy between your field and office staff (even though your office staff is smaller)? Do you think hierarchy has a role to play in a healthy/thriving organization, or is it better to have a flat decision making structure?

2. Whichever you have -- hierarchical or flat -- how do you ensure that everyone in your organization understands and philosophically connect with your vision and mission? Or is it ok that not everyone connects with the philosophy of the org, as long as work gets done?

Thank you,
Dipti

Organizational Sustainability

Posted almost 8 years ago

Dipti,

Thanks. We dont think hierarchy is important or required for proper functioning of an organization. However, organizational discipline is important. Our powers are very decentralized but very disciplined too. Having said that, we do make our own mistakes and review them through our regular meetings.

Our quarterly meetings are important for us. These connect field workers, supervisors and main office team. Information is exchanged in these meetings and collaborative discussions help in improving the work. Our field centers are not rented premises for few, project-based years. We set up our centers with a long-time approach where our teams live, and which are open for communities to visit and discuss with us. Our centers are visited by a large number of villagers every day. Hence, our philosophy and approach is widely shared and is a reflection of our understanding with people we work for.

Organizational Sustainability

Posted almost 8 years ago

Thanks, Prakash -- insightful indeed.