Vikram Sarabhai Centre for Development Interaction (VIKSAT) was set up in the year 1977 as an activity of the Nehru Foundation for Development (NFD) to take proactive steps to conserve the environment. VIKSAT felt that lack of interactions is a major bottleneck in involving individuals and organizations in environment protection. Hence, VIKSAT articulates its mission as promoting and strengthening people's institutions through interactions, for an equitable, gender sensitive, sustainable development and management of natural resources.
The objectives of the organization include:
Over the last 34 years, VIKSAT has worked at grassroots level with communities in their local regions towards developing models which ensure sustainability of livelihoods through natural resource management. To enhance meaningful participation in natural resources management, VIKSAT has been working towards imparting skills related to institution building, resource generation, management and other support.
In the initial years, VIKSAT worked on the promotion of wasteland development and afforestation programme with Government and NGO participation. With strong belief/understanding that all promotional messages need to be derived from sound field practice/experience, it identified Bhiloda block (tribal dominated) of Sabarkantha district in Gujarat for its learning’s from the grassroots. The direct field implementation provided grassroots insights and a firm footing on understanding of community based needs and developmental solutions. This was further enhanced through support functions which include building linkages, engagement in training and documentation, inter alia. Thus, right from the beginning, VIKSAT made its identity as both a field as well as a support organization. Over the years, VIKSAT has now emerged as a professional support institution promoting community based approaches for sustainable natural resource management
At present, VIKSAT has five field offices in four districts of Gujarat, namely, Bhiloda, Kheroj in Sabarkantha district; Satlasana in Mehsana district; Kukam, in Kachchh district; and Radhanpur in Patan district with the head office located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The main thrust area of VIKSAT is Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Livelihoods through intensive intervention on Forestry, Land, Water, Sustainable Agriculture, Bio-diversity, Women Empowerment and Policy Advocacy.
Over the years VIKSAT has continued the pioneering efforts of facilitating the implementation of the JFM programme in Gujarat. In conformity with the organizational mandate, VIKSAT has developed integrated strategies to address people’s livelihoods related issues with natural resource management as the key intervention. Appreciating the symbiotic relationship and dependency for meeting the livelihood needs of the local communities with the local natural resources, VIKSAT has always invested its efforts to help strengthen people’s institutions. Several of these institutions have gained substantial management capabilities to plan and implement developmental initiatives and programmes at different levels. Working with federations of the People’s Institutions viz. Sangathan Kshamata Manch (SAKSHAM) has also helped to consolidate and scale up the “people to people” learning processes to larger geographical areas across Gujarat.
VIKSAT has expanded its experiences in forest management to water management for sustainable productivity enhancement and drinking water security for community, and has promoted ground water recharging, surface and rainwater harvesting initiatives at community level for the long-term impact on drought proofing. VIKSAT has been actively involved in promoting rain water harvesting (RWH) and artificial recharge for enhancing access to drinking water in both rural and urban areas. It has provided designs and established working models for rooftop rain water harvesting to various institutions.
Initiatives like ecological restoration through grassland development along with addressing drinking water and livelihood issues in agriculture and livestock has been effectively mobilized for drought proofing in Kachchh district. Where as it has scaled up its interventions in Sabarkantha district by initiating a comprehensive Land and Water development programme in the villages of Poshina tribal area, (treated as one of the most backward areas of Khedbrahma Block) through facilitation of two integrated watershed development projects.
Promoting appropriate agricultural practices and strengthening agriculture extension services is another area, where VIKSAT has contributed by extending its support for sustainable use of land and water selection of seeds and plant protection. This has resulted in to increase in crop production along with improvement in crop and soil quality and ultimately leading to better marketing of farm produces. The Programs under NAIP with SDAU have shown positive impacts and are proving to be successful in promoting improved agriculture practices through demonstrations, linkages, education and capacity building, use of organic fertilizers, mixed cropping and agro-service development.
One of the key initiative of VIKSAT under networking and is National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC). Since last 24 years National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC) is being sponsored by Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), GoI for which VIKSAT is Regional Resource Agency (RRA) for Gujarat, Diu – Daman since 1986. This annual campaign conducted on the identified on the specific environmental theme every year. This was done so that participating organizations from all over the country can spread environmental awareness on a particular theme. Non – Governmental organizations, School, Colleges, Nature Clubs, Education and Training Institutions, actively involved in the field of environment education and awareness takes part in the campaign and spread awareness through various programs like seminar, workshops, rallies, padyatra, Jatha, competitions, street play, puppet show, meetings, folk media and folk dance.
VIKSAT has associated with government departments, bilateral agencies and corporate, not only as an implementing partner but also as a responsible collaborator to carry forward the development processes. Various examples of active collaboration with Forest Department for the promotion of wasteland development and Joint Forest Management (JFM), with Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO) for WATSAN programmes, financial resource support for the people’s institutions from Sir Ratan Tata and Sir Dorrabji Tata Trust and Sector Reforms projects of the Government of Gujarat. VIKSAT has assisted District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) of three districts – Sabarkantha, Banaskantha and Narmada for development of the district perspective plan and action plans under the BRGF during the reporting period.
VIKSAT’s contributions in the sector have been duly recognized:
VIKSAT received a Prestigious National Award Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Puraskar in 1997 from Ministry of Environment & Forests, New Delhi. The Awards is in recognition of exceptional contributions in the field of afforestation and wastelands development.
VIKSAT Promoted Shree Janjharmata TGCSs, Malekpur. Received a Prestigious National Award Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Puraskar in 2002 from Ministry of Environment & Forests, New Delhi in the Village Level Institutions categories.
VIKSAT promoted Shree Ashapura TGGs , Nana Kothasana got Gram Sanghthan Paritoshik 2005 from Development Support Centre, Ahmedabad.
VIKSAT invited to participate in World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002.