Smart Villages has three programs aimed at improving the physical well-being of
the rural poor. Women within the Self-Help Groups are given training in health awareness;
cultivation and use of herbal medicine; and preparation of food that is inexpensive
but still nutritious. More formal care is provided by a trained nurse in health
clinics. The nurse brings more formal first-aid, immunizations and treatment of
simple ailments to the villagers. Also, the clinic maintains all health records
which are useful for follow-up visits by government health officials.
A critical health care issue here, as in other geographies, has been the spread
of AIDS. The disease is rampant among the illiterate, adolescent boys and girls
and widows. Smart Villages has organized a series of AIDS awareness training programs,
health camps, and seminars in the villages using audio-visual aids to educate the
villagers on how to prevent the spread of AIDS and to motivate them to want to do
Every year, the rural poor are threatened by natural calamities arising from the
monsoon season. Torrential rains wash away houses, destroy crops and kill many villagers.
Smart Villages provides emergency relief measures to the stricken, and works to
rehabilitate the victims.
Marginal farmers face the greatest challenges to their farming from severe water
shortages. They are forced to quit farming, which reduces the financial health of
the entire village. Smart Villages works with the farmers,
helping them to obtain financial assistance. With financing they are able to deepen
their wells, securing needed water for irrigation. Smart Villages also assists these
farmers past the threshold of sustainability by maintaining a seed bank of high-yield
seed varieties. Over 200 farms have benefited from increased productivity and yield.
Large areas of land remain unproductive due to poor irrigation, soil erosion and
general nutrient depletion, aggravating the problem of marginal farms in the villages.
Smart Villages has helped to reclaim over 10 acres of such wasteland, converting
it into arable land, a source of jobs and nourishment for the people.