Rajasthan NGO gets special status from UN body

Thursday, February 17, 2011

JAIPUR - A Rajasthan NGO, Vaagdhara, which works for the empowerment of impoverished and vulnerable groups in the state, is among 17 from across the world to be granted special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The Banswara-based Vaagdhara, established in 1986-87, is one of three from India to be given the honour. The status recognises an NGO’s expertise in certain areas of work and these can submit written statements and petitions to the UN.

The other two Indian NGOs to get the new status at a session of ECOSOC’s Committee on Voluntary Organisations at the UN headquarters in New York earlier this month are the Tamil Christian Broadcasting Network and the Serve Train Educate People’s Society.

Vaagdhara works to create capacity-building opportunities among farmers, tribal populations, women and children in southern Rajasthan.

Vaagdhara secretary Jayesh Joshi said here Thursday that the NGO - working in the tribal-dominated Vaagar region comprising Banswara, Dungarpur, Udaipur, Pratapgarh and Chittaurgarh districts - was human and technological resource for the well-being of rural communities.

“The main sources of sustenance of these communities have been primitive agriculture and minor forest produce. Having been deprived of their lands, tribals now live off cattle rearing or manual labour to agricultural farms,” said Joshi.

He said the region was low in terms of human development indicators and lacked infrastructure facilities.

Joshi affirmed that the special consultative status would enable Vaagdhara to highlight the issues afflicting the tribal population at the international level and help evolve meaningful strategies for their development.

The NGO has taken up work for natural resource management, community health and education, lift irrigation, check-dam construction and gender development in the region.

One of the major interventions by Vaagdhara during the past year has been the Make Trade Fair Campaign, though which it has apprised thousands of farmers of the “monopolistic, unfair and dominating policies” being implemented on the pretext of globalisation.

“Thanks to our campaign, tribal agriculturists have understood the need for protecting their rich bio-diversity,” said Joshi.

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