Zero Waste Management in Kerala

zero waste

The NGO: Chetana Society
Supporting AID Chapters & Amount funded:Bay Area: Rs.3,90,000

India generates around 0.2 to 0.3 million tons of waste on an average every day and most of it is dumped in the outskirts of the city in an unmanaged landfill or disposed using quick-fix solutions such as incineration, pyrolysis, burning, and landfilling which leads to various environmental hazards. Zero Waste Management means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials.

AID has been supporting this project partially since 2003.

Vanabrangipadu Gram Sabha report

Vanabrangipadu Gram Sabha report

Have you ever been to a gram sabha?

Do you even know what a gram sabha is?

Well, I went to one in February.  The reason I went was because Amma and Nanna were going.  The reason they were going was because they were interested and because Ajay Kumar invited them.  Ajay Kumar runs a training center in Anakapalli, where he trains people on how to do stuff.  Mostly on how to get their various rights.  Such as forest rights — Adavi Hakkulu.

We were staying at his house/training center in Anakapalli.  Anakapalli is famous for bellam (packed brown sugar).  So in the morning we ate wadas for breakfast.  With bellam!  (Wada and bellam together seem a little like a doughnut.)

Anyway, we then left for the gram sabha, which was in a village called Vanabrangipadu.  Gram sabhas have nothing to do with kilograms.  A gramam is a village and a sabha is a meeting.  So a gram sabha is a village meeting, except actually there were people from 8 villages at 1 sabha.

9 or 10 of us crowded into a Jeep.  It took about 3 hours to get to Vanabrangipadu, and, as the village was up a mountain, the road wound more often than not and I got a bit nauseous.  At one point there was a pretty steep hill we didn’t think the Jeep could climb, so we got out and walked the last 2 kms.  (Whew! — no carsickness in walking.)

When we got there, the villagers washed our feet and put bottus (bindis) made of akshintalu (raw rice coated with turmeric).  As it was just wet rice with pasupu (turmeric) and maybe some flowers, the akshintalu kept falling off every now and then.  Someone was also beating a drum.



Then we went down to the raised concrete platform where they were going to hold the gram sabha.

When it started, I could barely understand anything!  They were speaking partly in Telugu and partly in Kui, their local language.  Kui seems to have some Telugu in it, actually, but it was still hard to understand.

Apparently this was the first gram sabha in this panchayat (group of villages).

Ajay Kumar had trained the villagers on how to hold a gram sabha.  Which is weird, because they should just be doing it themselves and not being taught by some Anakapalli guy.  But they don’t do gram sabhas, maybe because they don’t think they need all that standard procedure stuff. But they do, because even if they can sort everything in their village out without it, they have to stick their sorted-out stuff through a transformer first, and then give their standardized decisions to the government, so that they’ll understand and recognize them.  Like how sometimes you have to plug a transformer into the wall (village decisions) first, and then plug in the computer (higher government).

And that transformer is… guessguessguess… the gram sabha!

Anyway, he had trained them on how to hold a gram sabha according to the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, and he was coming to the first one, to help.  (The Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act is called PESA for short, because it really needs a short name.)

He was planning to hold more training sessions, on following up on things decided in the sabhas, and also trainings for the members of the Adavi-Hakkulu committees.

So here’s the math:

  •  1 Vishaka district
  • 2 of its mandals, G. Madgula and Chintapalli (which sounds like chintapandu (tamarind paste))
  • In which 5 gram sabhas are being conducted (total, not per mandal)
  • Each of which has ~ 8 villages.

Each district also has sub-divisions, which contain a few mandals each.

And each sabha has 1 Adavi-Hakkulu committee, which I think has around 8 people.

What does the Adavi-Hakkulu committee do?

What the Adavi-Hakkulu committee does*:

It tries to get the villagers titles to their land.

The people on the committee make a map showing what land belongs to which person.  Then they check it in the gram sabha.  Then they submit the map to the sub-divisional committee for approval, then (if it’s approved) to the district.  If and when the district approves it, the villagers are supposed to get titles to their land within _______  ________.  Oops!  Update:  There’s no time limit!  Alla elagaa?!**

And while the Adavi-Hakkulu committee is making the map, they have to consult the other villagers as well.

*It may do other things too.
**How can that be?!

In the gram sabha they voted for the committee members.  They made it compulsory for women to be on the committee — “Mahilalu compulsory ga undaali.”  They ended up with 2 women — Yay!  Clapclapclap!

Around this time we went and ate lunch.  After lunch, Amma saw some women and girls carrying dishes and water in bindilu and buckets on their heads, so she went to take pictures.  See, for a long time, Amma has been wanting to do an AID calendar with the theme ‘Headloads.’   And it looks like it might finally happen this year, so Amma was taking pictures.

She showed me some places where they got water and washed dishes.  Although they had an ordinary open well, they also had some more interesting water sources….

Here are a couple more things they were talking about, back at the gram sabha:

Apparently, in 2003, the Supreme Court passed a bill saying that everyone in forest villages would get 35 kilograms of rations per month.  Now, in 2015, 12 years later, they’re only getting 10-15 kgs/month — the rate for plains villages.

When they borrow money from moneylenders, sometimes they are being charged 50% interest in 6 months!  I don’t think that’s very legal….

At some point, they read out the minutes so far and asked if people liked them.  Gotta make sure the record-keeper is record-keeping properly!

The best part of the gram sabha trip was seeing all the water sources.  (And walking to the village and back.)  The best parts of the sabha itself were that they made mahilalu (women) compulsory for the Adavi-Hakkulu committee, and got 2 mahilalu, and that they read out the minutes and asked if people liked them.  I don’t know if they would do that in a great big formal court full of hierarchy, but they did it in this little, more friendly, less formal meeting.  At least it seemed a bit less formal.

It makes you realize that it doesn’t really matter how ‘formal’ or ‘proper’ the process is, the main goal is to just get the thing — getting your land titles or rations or whatever — done.  Not even the titles — the land.  No need for formal titles and all.  Basically you just have to survive.  But even if you manage without the land titles your whole life, and nobody snatches off your land, your kids could have a hard time later on, so I guess you’d better get the titles.

All of that stuff could be up for debate.  You could do a lot of philosophizing with all that too.

written by Khiyali KP, age 11.  Also posted on Vikalp Sangam
Related: Gram Sabha in Vanabarangipadu

5000 Adivasis Jatha Schedule _ Visakha Dist

Empowerment of laborers through effective implementation of MGNREGA

Three Day NREGS Training by ASDS in AP 



Peace, Justice and You(th)
Kids build a dome at the AID conference and volunteers walk right inPeace, Justice and You(th)

a pre-conference for youth
before the AID Conference in Austin
May 22 2015
Do you want to 
- explore what peace and justice mean to you?
- sing a rousing song from another part of the world?
- play co-operative games in which no one is "out" ... and invent a new game?
- make a poster or video about a social issue (we'll teach you how to edit video)

By the end of the day, youth will have the opportunity to:

A) make a poster  - to be displayed at the main AID conference
B) lead a "play for peace" game - to be done with participants at the main AID conference
C) lead a song for peace & justice (at the main AID conference)
D) make a triflexagon with a social theme

- bonus - (if time permits)
E) make a music video (to air at the main AID conference)

Sign up today!  Fill out the form below and make your travel plans to Austin for Peace Justice and You(th). 

Parents:  Don't forget to sign up for the main AID conference at  Be sure to indicate that your kids are attending the pre-conference  Peace Justice and You(th)
This form is also available online here.
Questions:  Please contact paravinda AT gmail DOT com
Photos: Children make friends at AID Conferences. 
Kids at AID ConferenceKids at AID ConferenceKids at AID Conference 
Kishore Kishori Bahini: Youth Groups in West Bengal

  Experiment to show how external pressure keeps the water from falling Higher pressure inside forces the water out Using Pascal's Law to emulate a JCB








Swanirvar is one of the oldest grassroots partner of AID in West Bengal. Swanirvar works with youth from Class V to Class XII to train them in becoming agents of positive change in their communities and schools. The youth groups known as Kishore Kishori Bahini have campaigned against the use of plastic bags in the villages, keeping the school premises clean, setting up organic nutritional gardens at school and home, making models to explain scientific concepts and toys from trash amongst and many other inspiring activities.

AID supports Swanirvar's efforts in sustainable agriculture in North 24 Parganas of West Bengal with a 1000 farmers that. Recently, Arun Roy, one of the resource farmers was awarded Krishi Ratna - a model farmer by the state.

All  projects of AID are visited by volunteers, here is a recent pictorial account of a volunteer visit to Swanirvar .

Saving Seeds Saves Biodiversity

Bharati Sardar saves seeds from her farm Paddy varieties being grown by farmers working with Swaniravar













  When control of seeds remains in the hands of farmers and farming communities, it ensures their livelihood security and food security for the whole society. Bharati Sardar (in the pic) of Andharmanik village of North 24 Parganas is an Anganwadi worker in her village and has been saving seeds from her garden for many years. Swanirvar, a long time AID partner supports Bharati and 500 other such farming families in practicing sustainable organic agriculture and saving their own seeds that promotes self-reliance and bio-diversity. Read more about Swanirvar's work on sustainable agriculture.

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