Viksat was set up in 1977 by Nehru Foundation for Development (NFD), with its pivotal objective to strengthen the implementation of activities that can improve the environment. Since its early stage of involvement with the directions set by the head concerns, VIKSAT strives to meet the purposes such as 1. Promote interactions between individuals and organisations for environmental protection, 2. Endeavour to build Peoples’ Institutions (PI) for sustainable development and management of natural resources.
Over the years, the organisation aimed at reaching these primary stakeholders through the varied thematic areas and a novel approach of decisive participation of the communities. Some of the key undertakings in the selected field areas became innovations in the field of water harvesting, joint forest management, biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture, climate-proofing interventions, as well as forward and backward linkages via Farmer Producer Company (FPC).
VIKSAT inclined itself to work towards adaptive research projects of integrated farming system and digital literacy for better subsistence focusing the tribal people in the Kutch region of Gujarat, India. A network of NGOs partner and initiatcapacity building through cascade model of training to execute these programmes, helmed its achievements for this year.
Proactively encouraging interactions among the society, Government and Non-Government Organizations, VIKSAT’s intention has always been to make an active participation of men and women from all possible sectors for an equitable and gender sensitive, sustainable development as well as management of natural resources.
Strategy and Thematic intervention
Addressing the issues pertaining to an efficient natural resource management system, VIKSAT concentrates on four major thrust areas, namely, Forestry, Environment & Climate Change; Land & Water; Sustainable Livelihoods; and Institution & Capacity Building.
Pursing its core strategy of increasing the capability to function independently, with minimum external support, VIKSAT has touched the lives of more than 25,000 households directly and covered more than 12 lakh households indirectly through facilitation of PIs formed at the village level and building capacity of various stakeholders, respectively.
The organisation changes the face of the forests in more than 100 villages of Bhiloda, Satlasana and Khavda Taluka through its historic Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme which ensures protection of forests and affirmation of economic activities from them, in the state of Gujarat.
Simultaneously working towards its target of nutrition security, VIKSAT has been making efforts to encourage sustainable productivity enhancement and drinking water by, with and for the community via land and water management.
VIKSAT as a Resource Centre
VIKSAT has positioned itself as a Resource Centre by partnering with NGOs, government agencies, communities on technical, social and institutional aspects of natural resource management. This dissemination of knowledge further finds its engagement in publications, newsletters and participation in public forums by the organisation. Moreover, it provides as a learning platform for other agencies including educational institutions, thus facilitating sharing of experiences and best practices.
VIKSAT at the grassroots
Over the last four decades, VIKSAT has progressed from being a platform for intellectual discourse, to an agency advocating for people rights vis-à-vis the forests. It gained grounds in research, by conducting seminars and workshops on various themes of forestry programme. During the early nineties, VIKSAT set the benchmark for institution building and community mobilization. The Tree Growers Cooperative Societies (TGCSs) developed in Kubada village became a model for development practitioners.
In addition to this, the educational materials on drought and land degradation that VIKSAT specially designed, received high acclaim and thus become a perennial document. This communication benchmark established the foundation for VIKSAT to take active interest in peoples’ institution and capacity building for efficient and sustainable management of groundwater, physical interventions for soil treatment, land management, water conservation and famer producer organization.
VIKSAT initiated developing acumen in structuring women into SHGs and developed rapport with local communities to form Village Organizations (VOs), Farmers’ Clubs (FCs), Village Watershed Committee (VWCs), Village Development Committee (VDCs) and Farmer producer organizations (FPOs) for the same.
Gradually, it started mobilizing the financial resources to fund entrepreneurial actions of the micro enterprises in the villages. Presently, VIKSAT facilitates creation of a favourable economic environment by increasing access to customize, easy and cheaper loans to the community.
As a recognized nodal agency for the National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC) by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFF&CC) and with the ever increasing challenges faced in sustaining the natural resources and the livelihoods; VIKSAT is constantly in the process of change, adapting the strategies and interventions to help the communities help themselves in the best possible manner.