Manav Adikar Seva Samiti
MASS is a non-governmental, non-profit making, apolitical secular development organization initiated by a group of Sociology & Anthropology students from the Sambalpur University in Odisha, India and later on joined by professionals from other backgrounds as well, working for the development of the downtrodden of Western Belt of Odisha.
MASS promotes a gender-balanced development which is socio-economically feasible, culturally viable and ecologically sustainable.
MASS Odisha at a Glance
A Bit of Background
Despite its prolonged poverty-ridden conditions, the western belt Odisha was yet to be intervened by any professional group/NGO when a batch of Sociology and Anthropology students from Sambalpur University came together in 1988 to dedicate themselves for development of the downtrodden. Initially, they arranged a series of discussions among themselves and with their teachers. Almost all the discussions led to the need for such a forum, but nobody was clear as to what could be done. Then prominent personalities including social workers, journalists, academicians, government officials were invited for an informal meeting and problems of the region were discussed in detail. After this, the in-house capability was evaluated at length. Keeping in view both these aspects a decision was taken that the present group of students and a few other interested youths from different backgrounds will join together to form a Registered Society named MANAV ADHIKAR SEVA SAMITI (MASS). Realising the need of the region at that point of time, MASS was thought up as a Resource Centre. But this could only be possible if we had the experience of working directly with the target communities. Since then, therefore, we have been working in selected clusters directly with the populations and also been maintaining close and constant linkages with a cross-section of the concerned persons. Institutions, starting from local to international level, are working with us to promote the issues of the grassroots and to build MASS as a Resource Centre for the poor of the western belt of Odisha.
What We Do
Making A Difference
Promoting Awareness about Water and its Conservation
We are promoting several awareness and education activities on water conservation. One of our most successful initiatives has been the publication of a quarterly newsletter which talks exclusively about water conservation and climate change, some of the key activities in which MASS is involved.
With incidences of drought gradually becoming more intensive and extensive in the region, MASS has envisaged an integrated approach in ‘water resources management and development’ for preparing this region against drought. Our experiments with reviving, and resorting to low cost, local technology-based, Traditional Water Harvesting Structures (TWHS) have been most successful, with farmers getting real benefits out of these.
High-cost inputs and external dependence, coupled with the gradual extinction of local cultivation practices, primarily, have led to the un-sustainability of agriculture. MASS is concerned with this kind of trends. Therefore, we are promoting farmer’s clubs that are practising locally suitable, low external input agriculture. So far about 40 farmer’s clubs have been formed. Through these clubs, we are trying to promote multiple cropping patterns, unlike the currently propagated “paddy” dominated cropping pattern. To replicate these methods in their farms, albeit on a lower scale.
Biodiversity Conservation through Ecosystem Development
More than 1.3 million people depend on the Gandhamardan hill ranges for their lives and livelihood. Located in the North Eastern end of the Eastern Ghats, this range boasts of one of the most precious biodiversity. But people, mostly tribals, of this region have been suffering from drought and other forms of problems with increasing severity. MASS has initiated a process in two Gram Panchayats under the Paikmal Block to develop the eco-systems of the villages.
Making weaving profitable
We are constantly working for making weaving profitable for weavers so that they are willing to pass on their art to children and the cultural knowledge of Sambalpuri weaving is preserved. We trying to market their products eliminating the middlemen, so that they get a fair price for their art and effort.