Board Member’s visit to project in India.

Board Member’s visit to project in India.

IDRF encourages and invites all our donors, volunteers and the curious minded to visit any of our program sites in India, Nepal or Sri Lanka for a truly enriching experience!

Mohinder Gulati visits Samerth’s Water Security Program Locations in Gujarat

IDRF has been supporting Samerth’s Water Security project since 2014. In 2018, Mr. Gulati visited the NGO’s office in Ahmedabad and project sites in Rapar. Ms Gazala Paul and Mr Ashish Mehta from Samerth accompanied him on the site visit.

The arid areas of Kutch district receive scanty rainfall and have high salinity in the soils. This limits the availability of the groundwater to very shallow part of aquifers, thus, offering very limited opportunities for livelihood and drinking water for sustaining the poor tribal population. Samerth has done a commendable job in leveraging funds from donor and government sources, and technical support from partner NGOs, in restoring and developing water infrastructure and also creating capacity in the local communities for long-term sustainability. Samerth has been able to tap into funds from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board, MLA funds, and partners including IDRF. IDRF is funding three types of infrastructure (a) earthen check dams to restore and augment village ponds, (b) restoration and creation of dug wells, and (c) rooftop rainwater harvesting. The first two are community owned and managed while the third is individual household owned infrastructure. IDRF funded program includes more than 40 check dams and 15 dug wells.

In the villages that Mr. Gulati visited, he saw few check dams and village ponds restored with IDRF funding. He also saw several dug wells that have been rehabilitated or new wells dug. Due to lack of water, several communities used to migrate for about eight months a year herding livestock into greener pastures in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. Government also could not provide education and healthcare facilities for these migrant communities.

Mr. Gulati was highly impressed with how the trained “Jaldoots” (water volunteers) conduct resource assessments, engage the community in water budgeting and management, and also help them access their rights-based entitlements and government schemes.

Dug well at a project site in Rap

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Donors’ visit to IDRF project in India. Also featuring Hostel Diary

Donors’ visit to IDRF project in India. Also featuring Hostel Diary

Inspired by his first visit to Shiksha Bharati in June 2016, Mr Mohinder Gulati, one of our enthusiastic volunteers visited again in October 2016, to celebrate Diwali with the children who are living away from their families.

Visit to Shiksha Bharati by IDRF Volunteer

Reflections of My Visit to Shiksha Bharati


I had the privilege of visiting Shikhsha Bharati’s educational institute (Srimati Brahmadevi Saraswati Balika Vidya Mandir- SBVM) on behalf of IDRF on 4th June 2016. I met with the President Mr. Rajkirpal and Manager Mr. Kuldip Kasana, the Principal of the school Mrs. Alka Gupta as well as the in charge of the tribal girls’ hostel.


IDRF has been supporting Shiksha Bharati for more than fifteen years. I visited the dormitory for tribal girls constructed with IDRF funding. I also got an opportunity to interact with the girls residing there who are being supported in-part through endowments and annual grants from IDRF.  Of the 78 girls residing in the hostel, 12 had left this year after completing their senior secondary education. It was a sheer joy to talk to a large group of confident and energetic young girls who are full of hopes and aspirations, ready to take on challenges and odds facing many of them, and firmly anchored in a value-system that would help them realize their potential as individuals and as productive and responsible members of the society.


The girls have been performing very well in the C.B.S.E. exams, as a result of the quality education provided by Shiksha Bharati.  The school uses latest audio-visual tools, science laboratories (reasonably equipped but need further support), and has two computer labs (equipped with more than 70 computers). For example, the school organized a program with a departmental store in Delhi to provide practical experience to students in retail management. I have agreed to connect the school with a wonderful program of innovative science education being run in Bengaluru area with financial support of a World Bank program called Development Marketplace.

Tribal Girls hostel:

The hostel facilities constructed with IDRF funding are managed well. Currently it has 78 students from tribal areas- mostly from Assam but also several from other North-Eastern states, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Ladakh. 12 students have recently left the hostel after passing their higher secondary education. The hostel residents also have access to library, a covered space for indoor activities such as yoga, music, gymnastics etc. Each hostel room accommodates 6 girls and they form a small mutual support group.  Filters are used for ensuring clean water. Food is cooked on campus and hostel inmates eat together. I had the opportunity to enjoy a meal with them and taste the delicious pickles made by the students.

Annual cost of education, lodging, and boarding of the hostel students comes to about Rs. 28, 00,000 per annum. Selection of tribal girls for various such schools and hostels is done through an organization called Vidya Bharati.

Enthusiasm, community spirit, and laughter of the girls was contagious. They also have access to medical facilities. I was also informed by the management that the endowment of US $6000 per student, which use to be enough in the past is falling somewhat short of requirements due to reduction in interest earning and price increase. The school is able to meet the shortfall from its own resources but may have to review the adequacy of endowment.

This IDRF and Shiksha Bharati project deserves continued support; is a very good use of IDRF funds; and should be considered for scaling up.  I would like to thank Mr. Rajkirpal and Mr. Kasana for a very warm welcome, excellent support for my visit and the hospitality extended to me. It was an inspiring visit and my wife and I plan to visit the school again during our next visit to India.


-Mohinder Gulati (Maryland, USA)

Former Chief Operating Officer, Sustainable Energy for All (UN)

Former Adviser, Energy (World Bank)




IDRF forerunner of Clean India Mission since 2009

What is Clean India Mission?
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) is a national campaign launched by the Government of India, on 2nd October 2014, the Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by PM Narendra Modi. Open defecation poses a serious threat to the health of children and dignity of women and encounters such as snake bites. Poor sanitation also cripples national development as workers produce less, live shorter lives, save and invest less, and, are less able to send their children to school. The Government of India is aiming to achieve Open Defecation Free -India by 2nd October 2019- the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India. While Clean India Mission has become a household word only now, IDRF has been executing this program since 2009 in Gujarat and 2013 in Telangana.

IDRF and Clean India Mission
At present IDRF is implementing rural sanitation program with three partner-NGOs, having an impeccable track record of services to the underprivileged for over two decades.

  1. Economic Rural Development Society- is working on providing eco-friendly rural
    sanitation units for 3,000 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in West Bengal. This project will benefit 18,000 people by providing them with low-cost sanitation facilities at the household level and create a healthy and safe environment for better living. As of now, 500 sanitation units have been supported by IDRF for this project.
  2. In 2016, IDRF collaborated with Swami Vivekananda Rural Development Society, for constructing toilet-cum-bathroom units for the disadvantaged rural communities of Tamil Nadu. So far IDRF has financed 36 units, and this rural sanitation project is expected to accelerate in the near future.
  3. In 2017, IDRF has joined hands with Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti to eliminate open defecation, unhygienic disposal of night soil and effluent water in villages of Wardha in Maharashtra. Under this project, 1,000 sanitation units consisting of a toilet, bathroom and water storage tank will benefit 7,000 villagers.

Benefits of Rural Sanitation Units
These rural sanitation units provide the women and girls with a safe and secure structure to attend to their personal hygiene and free them from the agony, stress and risk associated with defecation in open unsafe places and bathing in unprotected spaces. Use of sanitation units in the rural areas puts an end to open defecation related diseases. This decrease in diseases reduces the medical expenses and increase the number of working days for the beneficiaries, thus, boosting the income, level of confidence and dignity of their households.

How can you help with Clean India Mission?
Here is an excellent opportunity for you to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged rural families!
$ 250 will enable one rural family to have a toilet at home in West Bengal
$ 275 will help one family to have private sanitation unit consisting of toilet-bathroom and water storage tank in Maharashtra
$ 550 will provide individual toilet-cum-bathroom for one family in Tamil Nadu