Sustainable business practices and CSR activities have helped Huntsman India establish its credentials as a respected corporate citizen. Its CSR initiatives have transformed the lives of communities living in the vicinity of its plants across the country.
‘Anandi: Towards joyful learning’, a pioneering initiative aimed at underwriting positive change through education, has empowered villagers in Dabhasa, Luna, Umraya, and Ekalbara located close to the company’s Vadodara plant. Launched in 2011, the campaign has resulted in better infrastructural facilities, increase in education, health and awareness, and secured livelihoods of the target community.
The campaign has directly benefited approximately 2,000 school children, improved facilities at 19 Anganwadis and 4 schools and made a difference to the lives of more than 200 adolescents from the rural communities.
Laying solid foundations
Aanganwadis serve a crucial role in providing quality pre-primary education and health in villages. However, lack of proper facilities and absence of trained staff had resulted in a general aversion for aanganwadis and left children bereft of quality pre-primary education Lets not mention names of village every time. Huntsman India through its ‘Anandi: Towards joyful learning’ campaign, adopted a four-pronged approach to change the situation. The approach entailed helping Anganwadi workers enhance teaching skills, providing a regular supply of educational materials, improving existing infrastructure to create vibrant child-friendly centers, and continuously and consistently engaging with parents.
Concerted efforts by the company resulted in encouraging outcomes. Huntsman succeeded in substantially improving the atmosphere in the villages. As a result of its interventions children and teachers now participate actively and enthusiastically in the learning process.
Crafting a better tomorrow
Concurrent with its interventions to revitalise Aanganwadis, Anandi: Towards joyful learning has also influenced and changed primary education in the villages. Aligning its objectives with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the campaign has replaced rote-learning methods with activity-based techniques. The Anandi initiative has brought about transformational change in the following areas:
– Building science laboratories.
– Teacher capacity building.
– Supporting school supplies by Distribution of notebooks and bags.
– Improvement in infrastructure.
– Enhancing school management committees.
– CSR academic achiever award for meritorious students. .
– Summer camps for children.
– Facilitating computer education in schools.
– Cleanliness drive in schools.
– Hosting Bal Melas
Empowering girls, enriching communities
Education of girl child and empowering them is another focus area for Huntsman India’s CSR activities. Girls often face discrimination from parents and teachers resulting in them dropping out of the formal education system. Statistics show that in developing countries, adolescent girls are more likely to drop-out of school than boys, especially in rural areas. Education of girls can change their destinies and the communities at large. Offering girls basic education empowers them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead.
Through sustained interactions with villagers and awareness campaigns, Huntsman India has succeeded in changing the mindsets of the villagers. Consequently, the girls of Umraya village have started attending schools and have a good chance of succeeding in their lives through quality education. As a result of the successful intervention, girls have the chance to lead a healthier and happier life in the four villages.
Driving entrepreneurship, fostering change
Alongside its education interventions focused on girls, Huntsman India also supports vocational training programs aimed at developing entrepreneurial spirit to make them independent and self-sufficient. Economic empowerment of girls and women can lead to greater gender equality and economic development.
The multi-day vocational courses include courses on jewellery making, lamp decoration, sewing and stitching, making paper bags, etc. The company’s CSR team also provided valuable support to market the products made by the entrepreneurs. For instance, 1000 paper bags made of recycled paper were used by the Huntsman CSR team on World Environment Day as part of its ‘Say no to plastics’ campaign.
Enhancing awareness, changing behaviours
Huntsman India’s rural interventions also encompass awareness programs and strategies aimed at improving health in the villages. The company supports several initiatives which cater to improving health and well-being of adolescents, especially girls.
The Huntsman CSR team has designed and developed guidance and counselling modules to create awareness about a host of topics such as menstrual hygiene, reproductive health, and domestic violence, early marriage etc.
The interventions also educate and enlighten the girls about career development. The career development programs have helped in broadening their outlooks and encouraged them to think beyond the traditional roles and activities.
Designed to create awareness and inculcate healthy practices, the campaigns have resulted in an overall improvement in sanitation and hygiene and led to an overall improvement in health related knowledge.
Milking the way to success too
Securing livelihoods through various farm and agriculture interventions is another focus area for Huntsman. A considerable chunk of the population in the villages is involved in dairy farming which encouraged the company to launch a pilot project to improve animal husbandry in the villages. Initially, 65 families in Umraya village were targeted as part of the pilot project. The families were identified after a detailed survey which involved identifying the beneficiaries, the practices they followed, the quality of the cattle, the access to latest dairy practices, etc.
This project aimed at improving the quantity and quality of the cattle which would then translate into increased incomes for the dairy farmers, especially womenfolk as they were primarily involved in animal husbandry. Farmers were also educated about new and modern technologies, and organic fertilisers. The beneficiaries were also taken on field visits to big dairy farms at Velasan near Dakor and Amul in Anand to acquaint themselves with latest practices.
The success of the initiative has resulted in the extension of the pilot project with another 50 families in Luna villages being covered under it. .
Securing water, sustaining growth
Providing access to safe drinking water is critical to ensure health and wellness of communities. To help address the potable water shortage faced by Luna village, Huntsman constructed a 500KL underground water tank in Luna village. Access to safe drinking water has reduced the daily toil for women who had to spend considerable amounts of time and energy to secure water for their families but also substantially increased the health of the villagers. Mr. Pravin Mackwana, the Luna village Sarpanch: “Our Village receives Narmada Canal water but due to lack of proper water storage, water flows in nearby pond. After Huntsman has constructed 500KL RCC underground water sump tank, 3500 villagers of our village are having access to potable drinking water.”
Anandi’s multi-pronged approach has been instrumental in changing the social and economic landscape of the villages surrounding its Baroda plant. The beneficiaries have also been empowered to dream of a better tomorrow which resonates with Huntsman’s philosophy of CSR being empowerment and sustainability and not charity or philanthropy.
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