Each month we will be featuring the work of one of our international partner organisations. This month we are looking at our long-standing relationship with DDS in India.
Five thousand women with 5,000 acres of land = 2 million kilogrammes of grain, 10 million extra meals and 50,000 full stomachs.
This is what women from India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh have achieved with the help of the Deccan Development Society (DDS) - a partner organisation that Christian Aid has supported for 20 years.
Through their collective efforts and DDS support, the women have turned 5,000 acres of wasteland into productive cropland that now feeds their families and 50,000 of the poorest people in their communities as well.
It is this sort of achievement that has earned DDS global recognition for its work with poor women in the drought-prone Medak district of Andhra Pradesh.
Working with women’s groups or 'sanghams' in about 75 villages, DDS helps them to become self-sufficient producers of organic food, diversify their crops and influence local and state government policies.
The 5,000 members of these sanghams are among the poorest in the community and most of them are dalits, the most excluded group in India’s social hierarchy.
Last year Christian Aid gave DDS a grant of £62,250 to expand its work to six more districts in Andhra Pradesh.
This will help:
bring an additional 1,500 acres of land under cultivation
revitalise traditional cropping systems
create 1,000 seed banks and grain stores
organise and empower several thousand more women.
Taking to the airwaves
DDS also runs the Community Media Trust which trains predominantly illiterate women to produce radio and video programmes on issues such as GM crops and climate change.
Its Christian Aid-funded community radio station, Sangham FM, was launched onto the airwaves in October.
Our involvement does not stop there. We also fund a DDS-run ‘green school’ that provides practical education and skills to older children who have not received schooling in the past.