First published on India Water Portal.
The Manthan Award 2013, commemorated NGOs who used Information & Communications Technology (ICT) tools to deliver their stories to a wider audience
Can a mobile or an internet connection improve the visibility and prospects of an organisation? Will it help create exposure and result in further outreach? The recently concluded Manthan Awards was an amalgamation of people and organisations who have used technology, including mediums such as Twitter, Facebook, mobile phones and radios to build a better connect and augment individual empowerment.
One of them, NECEER, Imphal has galvanized local people to begin a ’Save Loktak Lake’ campaign, by garnering 1000 volunteers through their Facebook account. Today, it is a credible voice that has been able to change state policy. Another, EarthCare Design, promotes its innovative thread lamps, coconut jewelry and waste composters through SMS and uses its Facebook presence to motivate people to consciously embrace waste composting at home.
Bhumi, began a social media campaign ‘Rationalize Auto Rickshaw Fares in Chennai ‘ that convinced the Tamil Nadu government to revise and fix auto fares. In Kutch, many villages live in isolation unable to connect with the world, especially in times of emergencies. K-Link foundation created a database of 380 such villages, and developed a ‘blood link’ that uses SMS to disseminate information on blood donors.
A fun, direct and environmentally conscious idea is the ‘Birthday Forest ‘, from Nepal. Celebrate any occasion by planting a tree in ‘honour’ of that memory. For farmers there is an advisory and an online agriculture course at ‘e Krishi Pathshala’.
To fight against sexual harassment of women, AKSHARA has launched a ’Harass map – Mumbai’ that helps citizens to spot and report unsafe places. GRAAM (Grassroots Research And Advocacy Movement) initiated the Arogyashreni project, that uses the Interactive Voices Response System (IVRS) to rank the PHCs (Primary Health Centre) in Mysore, and has been instrumental in ensuring the appointment of doctors in some of these health centres.
Then there is the ‘Drought Help Group’, that raised funds and reached out to 2 lakh rural people in Maharashtra affected by the 2013 drought and carried out work worth Rs. 82 Lakh, simply by using social media. They used it as an interface, to connect the affected villagers with firms and individuals who were willing to help.
Field of interests of these small, occasionally cash strapped organizations were as diverse as environment, health, justice, sustainability and much more. The common thread was digitalization, which they used to leverage their content & presence in a bid to reach out to more people.
These NGOs working in varied fields upped their antennae, improved their story telling skills using all pervasive digital tools and in the process became more effective and efficient.
For more information on the finalists and awardees of the Manthan Award, please visit Manthan Awards Winners.
India Water Portal is India’s largest resource and platform focused on water issues. IWP is an initiative supported by Arghyam, a public charitable foundation working in the water and sanitation sector in India since 2005.