Supporting ProtoVillage as they find systemic solutions for rural resilience in India.
We believe that energy can uplift communities. LPG is an economical and cleaner source of fuel with a much lower carbon footprint than coal and oil. We are proud to be a leading maritime transporter of LPG, helping to ensure supply of LPG into India. Beyond LPG supply, we also fund selected community development and local self-help initiatives that have the potential to transform not just individual lives but entire communities. In 2021, BW LPG India began a multi-year project to support ProtoVillage as they find systemic solutions for rural resilience in India.
ProtoVillage was founded in 2014 on 12.5 acres of barren land in Anantapur, the second driest district in India. It aspires to be the prototype of a resilient rural community, where people live in harmony with nature and blend native knowledge with contemporary technology for a sustainable way of life.
In 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 exacerbated vulnerabilities in the healthcare and livelihood systems in rural India. But with challenges come opportunities for accelerated change and ProtoVillage began to establish long-term systemic solutions to improve access to healthcare and livelihoods for the under-served and economically disadvantaged in rural communities.
Year 1: Improving Healthcare with Telemedicine
COVID-19 has made it difficult for those living in rural communities to access hospitals or major healthcare centres in cities, either because of full capacity or personal fears of infection. To this challenge of access to quality and affordable healthcare, ProtoVillage set up a healthcare centre and mobile clinic to serve over 50 neighbouring villages in the district.
An existing building within ProtoVillage, called the Shanti Kutiram, was converted to serve as a healthcare and telemedicine center. It is equipped with a tech station to handle patient and patient-care data, and provides back-end support in scheduling and connecting patients with doctors. This space also has facilities to enable doctors to treat patients. With the mobile clinic, a trained nurse travels to care for villagers with mild, general ailments while creating digital health profiles for them, in a format prescribed by the apex health body of the Indian government. The profiles will allow ProtoVillage to collect data on common health issues to eventually create a targeted healthcare plan to address these issues.
A medicinal herb garden is currently being prototyped at ProtoVillage that can eventually be replicated at other villages, so that a significant number of day-to-day sicknesses can be managed within the local community. In addition, interested youths are being trained in naturopathy to manage mild and general ailment
Providing Hope through Entrepreneurship
With slim economic prospects in rural communities, young men and women had migrated to seek work opportunities in cities. However, COVID-19 had forced many to return home when opportunities in the cities ceased, and savings were depleted.
ProtoVillage has developed a model of business called Graameena Aarthika Mandali (Graamam for short), and it goes beyond the popular objectives of empowering women to be employable. Graamam aims to empower and develop women to be entrepreneurs.
ProtoVillage aims to grow the network of women entrepreneurs to 9000 women across 100 villages by 2024, running various enterprises in the Nutritious Food, Personal Care and Home care categories. This network of women will be organised into a Producer company owned by them, with ProtoVillage providing the R&D, training, quality assurance and marketing services.
A 4,000 sq. ft training facility infrastructure has been built with support from BW LPG India, that will serve as a prototype to be replicated across the district with the aspiration to reach 90,000 women in the district.
ProtoVillage is off-the-grid and is self-sustaining using wind and solar energy. However, food enterprises run in ProtoVillage and in the surrounding villages will use safe and cleaner-burning LPG for cooking, which when compared to traditional biomass, has minimal carbon emission.
Year 2: A New Way to Farm
In 2022, BW LPG India continued its funding support for ProtoVillage, with focus on setting up infrastructure needed to demonstrate a model of farming that preserves ground water table, grows healthy food for consumers and consistently generates income for farmers.
Located in one of the driest parts of India, ProtoVilage has experienced droughts with zero rainfall, and wells in the area would dry up due to the lack of rain. This impacts food security and the general resilience of villages. ProtoVillage is working to develop a food security system that has lower water needs, and where irrigation water is collected in open ponds rather than from bore wells. The irrigation infrastructure that they have designed has been built, and it includes a huge pond that can hold close up to 3 million litres of rainwater. This water will be sufficient for the farming needs of the village till the next monsoon.
The team has also developed a farming model that ensures a weekly harvest, and hence a steady and higher income to farmers.
ProtoVillage will next explore how to ensure better energy security, enhancing its solar capacity and upgrading the inverters in order to be self reliant for their electricity needs. They will also explore systems to measure consumption, and mechanisms to make the distribution system “leak proof”, and work on energy efficient community cooking systems using agri waste and solar concentrators.
Year 3: Scaling Up
In 2023 and beyond, ProtoVillage will focus on upgrading community infrastructure, building dormitory accomodation for volunteers and school-going children, an open community kitchen to cook nutritious meals, and maintaining the training centre with water-proofing materials and building of toilet facilities.The team will also train trainers in several trades such as eco-friendly construction; spinning, natural dyeing and weaving of fabrics; poultry and bee-keeping, creating food products for sale; as well as digital marketing to sell goods.
Above: ProtoVillage’s dormitory, a work-in-progress. Once completed, it will serve as a additional accomodation for residential school children, visiting volunteers and members of ProtoVillage. Photo taken in March 2023.
When all community infrastructure is completed, ProtoVillage will be organised to facilitate the training of men and women in crafts that is suitable and sustainable in a rural context. BW LPG India organised a meeting with Mr Kalyan Akkepeddi, Founder-President of InteGreater Foundation and ProtoVillage at its Mumbai office in March 2023. During the meeting, we reviewed our partnership and the status of project progress, and listened to future plans that the team has.
From L-R: Mr Anand Krishnaraj (Senior Manager, Accounts); Mr Vishnu Swaminathan (Advisor, Social Responsibility); Captain Rajesh Joshi (General Manager); Mr Kalyan Akkepeddi (Founder and President, InteGreater Foundation/ ProtoVillage); Lisa Lim (Head of Corporate Communications); Valerie Yeo (Assistant Manager, ESG).
Dedicated to a vision of rural resilience
At BW LPG India, we aspire towards a Better World. There are many ways to realize our aspiration. One way we can do so, is to support community development. At ProtoVillage, the efforts of ProtoVillage have the potential to transform not just individual lives but entire communities. BW LPG India stands with ProtoVillage as they take steps towards more resilient rural communities in India.
– Follow ProtoVillage’s Facebook page.
– Read about LPG and its benefits at The World LPG Association.
Topics: human capital development, gender equality, women empowerment, emissions reduction, carbon reduction, diversity and inclusion, community involvement, community contribution, local interactions, CSR, Sustainability, environmental protection, technology
ProtoVillage has set up a healthcare centre and mobile clinic to serve over 50 neighbouring villages in the district. It is also prototyping a medicinal herb garden and training youths in naturopathy.