The S M Sehgal Foundation's Work during COVID in India

The S M Sehgal Foundation and NGOsource

The S M Sehgal Foundation, founded in 1999 and based in Haryana, India, works to improve the quality of life in India’s rural communities. The organization has five main program areas: Water Management, Agriculture Development, Local Participation and Sustainability, Transform Lives One School at a Time, and Outreach for Development.

The foundation works to bring together a team of experts who create sustainable programs. The teams work directly alongside rural communities to better manage water resources, increase agricultural productivity, strengthen, and articulate the visions for village development, and transform the lives of youth and schoolchildren. One of the foundation's core pillars is local participation, which intends to empower citizens — especially women — to become effective leaders and enables people to sustain their own development.

In April and May of 2021, India was in the wake of a major wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a 7-day new-case average of over 350,000, NGOs like the S M Sehgal Foundation shifted their work to support their community during this difficult time.

NGOsource spoke to the S M Sehgal Foundation about how COVID-19 and an ED Certified status impacted the organization's work.

The Impact of COVID-19

The second wave of the COVID-19 virus in India hit the country, and the organization, hard. With the virus ravaging big cities and rapidly penetrating rural pockets, the S M Sehgal Foundation teams' focus was immediately put toward urgent relief work. However, it was important that the organization maintain the momentum of the ongoing sustainable development initiatives and programs, as these are creating long-term positive impacts in rural India.

The organization took on relief efforts to provide much-needed medical equipment, PPE, emergency food rations, and life-saving information to vulnerable rural communities. Since agriculture often falls under "essential services," and rural India is an agrarian society, most projects are continuing with limited delays.

ED in Action

The S M Sehgal Foundation plans to use the grants obtained because of the ED certification to expand its core programs concerning food security, water security, local participation, and information asymmetry. The focus of these projects will be on the empowerment of women and children through working directly with rural communities in India.

S M Sehgal Foundation seeks opportunities to collaborate for continuous improvement and replication of its agriculture and water management innovations. As an emerging leader on rural development issues in India, the foundation team further engages in research, impact assessment, interactive dialogue, and community media to take informed actions and achieve sustainable results. Given the economic and social impact of COVID-19 on rural India, it is more important than ever to scale proven models that foster economic empowerment and resilience.