GRAVIS is a leading NGO working in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Bundelkhand regions of India. Since being founded in 1983, we have come to occupy a strong recognition nationally and internationally for our dedicated work among impoverished rural communities.
The Thar Desert, situated in North-west India, receives less than 200mm of rain per year in the semi arid eastern parts, and in some western regions less than 100 mm. This meagre rainfall means that groundwater cannot serve as a long-term source of water for drinking or irrigation, and the parched soil is unable to conserve enough moisture for vegetation and a sufficient amount of agricultural produce. Scorching summers, chilly winters, dry monsoon seasons, and regular dust storms are characteristic of the region. Despite all this, however, the Thar Desert is the most densely populated desert ecosystem in the world, with up to 120 people per km2 as compared to 10-70 per km2 in other arid regions. The Thar is home to a population of more than 23 million people with unique cultures, heritage and traditions. Water scarcity often plays a major part in shaping the lives of these people, with many villages lacking a secure source of clean drinking water and water for irrigation. This lack of basic necessities has a knock-on effect on the health of many villagers, particularly the elderly and those under 5, and education, with children required to collect water and help on the farm in order to support their struggling parents.
Uttarakhand and the Bundelkhand region of UP are hilly to mountainous terrain and have complex challenges related to income generation and healthcare due to geographical and socio-economic reasons. GRAVIS has recently started working in Uttarakhand and Bundelkhand with programmes focusing on farmers development and support, alongside women empowerment and community health. In the future, activities will be expanded in these areas.
Although the majority of GRAVIS’ work falls under drought mitigation caused by the water crisis in the Thar Desert, we believe in an integrated approach to sustainable development, working to not only enable a secure and safe source of water for drinking and irrigation, but also transforming lives through education, healthcare, microfinance and advocacy for the rights of those more vulnerable in society. Working closely with communities at a grassroots level ensures that deep change can be effected across all areas of life and for all members of society.