Development Alternatives (DA), the world's first social enterprise dedicated to sustainable development, is a research and action organisation striving to deliver socially equitable, environmentally sound and economically scalable development outcomes. DA’s green technology innovations for habitat, water, energy and waste management, which deliver basic needs and generate sustainable livelihoods, have reduced poverty and rejuvenated natural ecosystems in the most backward regions of India.
DA’s Mission is to help eliminate poverty and regenerate the environmental resource base through methods that are highly scalable. Its activities broadly cover three primary areas that underlie any sustainable development process: the design and large-scale dissemination of appropriate technologies, rational environmental management systems, and equitable people-oriented institutions and policies. The DA Group innovates such eco-solutions to help meet the basic needs of all and works with partners, including government bodies, local entrepreneurs and civil society to market these in a commercially viable and an environmentally friendly manner to an ever-growing body of consumers.
- Empowering Communities through multi-stakeholder action for
- Institution Development with a focus on women and marginalised
- Basic Needs fulfillment more specifically habitat, water, energy
- Creating Green Jobs at a large scale through promotion and support of
- Employment Skills for Green Job creation
- Enterprise Creation for Social Enterprises
- Promoting and advocating Low Carbon Pathways for Development
through the design and demonstration of
- Natural Resources Management Models
- Clean Technology Solutions
Thus, a conglomerate called Development Alternatives Group was set up, comprising five organisations. The non-profit Societies, such as the flagship entity Development Alternatives and TARA (Technology and Action for Rural Advancement) are responsible for research, innovation, policy, incubation of green businesses and technical support services.
: A world where every citizen can live a secure, healthy and fulfilling life, in harmony with nature
: To create models that generates sustainable livelihoods in large numbers.
: Innovation, implementation and influence to create large scale impact.
For people. For nature.
The DA logo consists of a stylised star and the name of the organisation. The green star symbolises the two main reasons that DA stands for – The well-being of the people and the environment.
The star broadly represents a human figure reaching out and leading the organisation in pursuing its goals and mission. The body of the star represents an aspirational human reaching out. The colour green represents the environment.
The human figure in the star signifies that humanity has evolved from the Earth and therefore, must have ‘Green Consciousness’, i.e. be considerate towards the Earth and the environment.
Christian de Laet, the inspirational co-founder of DA, has described the organisation’s philosophy in his book, ‘Development Alternatives – A Personal Appreciation’, by using the framework of the five-point star.
The star figure is meant to serve as a guide to a personal sense of growth within a development group like DA. This is neither an exploration of psychology nor a questioning of humankind’s ultimate purpose, but a reflection from within to benchmark internal progress.
Natural Resource Management
The collective global inability to decouple economic development from unprecedented material use and the resultant stress on the natural resource base has reached crisis situations. For an emerging economy like India with a large population directly dependent on natural resources for their sustenance, this has created severe economic, environmental and social challenges.
Development Alternatives Group’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) programme offers solutions that help in the conservation, management and efficient utilisation of land-water and bio-resources with a focus on enhancing livelihood security of rural populations.
Programmatic Focus: The programme focuses on soil and water regeneration, sustainable agriculture and allied practices for food and livelihood security of rural communities dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods with its core work in the central Indian region of Bundelkhand.
The programme has focused its work on standardising watershed management processes to systemise the scientific GIS based analysis for decentralised planning. Demonstration across eight micro-watersheds in the Datia district of Madhya Pradesh validated this methodology. The Madhya Pradesh government appreciated its replication in Tikamgarh district. The results of this programme were shared with civil society partners through the Bundelkhand Knowledge Platform to facilitate replication across the Bundelkhand region.
Clean Technology Solution
Clean technology solutions in all sectors of economy are central to our pursuit of sustainable and green futures. Development Alternatives Group’s programme area of ‘Clean Technology Solutions’ works to reduce the use of virgin resources, promote resource efficiency, carbon saving and waste recycling in the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprise (MSME) sector in India and globally.
Programmatic Focus: The programme offers low carbon and resource efficient technology solutions for the micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). The programme innovates, sources and adapts new and improved green technologies; packages green technologies into business solutions for MSMEs; and influences policies for the promotion of cleaner production process.
Development Alternatives has innovated clean technologies for waste utilisation in brick making with renewed focus on technologies that replace use of virgin soil and coal with industrial wastes such as fly ash, stone dust, marble slurry and phosphor-gypsum.
In the past year the programme supported the Bihar Task Force to influence the public procurement price and preference in favour of Fly-Ash bricks. Policy support tools and capacity building modules on low carbon construction were shared with policy makers in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. New tools for coastal, semi-arid and wet hilly regions are now ready to be used for mainstreaming climate compatible design and construction planning in the development plans of district and state governments.
For a country as large as India, providing development services to the last mile calls for building strong local-level institutional arrangements and an enabling policy environment. This is critical to produce the results required to ensure well being for all.
The Development Alternatives Group’s mandate under ‘strengthening institutions’ entails building cohesive systems for community based collective action and bargaining that supports the realisation of entitlements for the rural poor, especially women and other marginalised groups.
: This programme works at three levels
- - Designs, demonstrates and strengthens models collective action by rural community groups
- - Develops planning tools and advocates for relevant policy frameworks to promote sustainable development approaches
- - Fosters market based business alliances to scale up sustainable technology based enterprise models
The programme has been providing support to the Planning Commission to set up the National Resource Cell for Decentralised District Planning (NRCDDP).
Basic Needs Fulfillment
Access to basic needs such as adequate shelter, drinking water, sanitation, energy and literacy remains an enormous challenge in most developing nations. Six decades after independence, 128 million Indians still do not have access to safe drinking water and 626 million people practice open defecation. A staggering 400 million people live without electricity and 287 million people are still illiterate. Over 40 million in villages and approximately the same number in urban areas do not have a safe and permanent roof over their heads vulnerable to vagaries of weather and natures furies with detrimental impacts on human, social and economic potential.
The ‘Basic Needs Fulfillment’ Programme of the Development Alternatives Group promotes affordable green technology solutions and designs and incubates delivery models that enable rural and urban poor to access basic needs.
Programmatic Focus: DA designs innovative delivery models, communication systems and business eco systems to reach basic needs goods and services to the poor. The main focus of the programme is to enhance human capacity and well being through access to safe drinking water, clean energy and sustainable habitat solutions and services.
The programme designed, field-tested and implemented the affordable eco-housing delivery model in Bundelkhand. A steady growing demand for such housing and interest from leading financial institutions such as the National Housing Bank and Asia Pragati Housing Finance Company demonstrates replication potential for bringing good quality housing and sanitation infrastructure within the reach of the poor.
Global problems of environment destruction, unprecedented material use and large scale unemployment have led to the need for an economic framework that helps create sustainable livelihoods that reduce our carbon footprint and help revive the health of our ecosystem.
Development Alternatives works towards the creation of livelihoods through enterprise development initiatives. The group works in product based cluster development, strengthening the value chain, identifying and establishing market linkages and capacity building for enterprise development. Post identification of business opportunities at the community level, the DA group translates them into bankable enterprise packages with demonstrations and trainings.
Programmatic Focus: The mandate is to create self sustaining livelihood options in emerging green sectors. To facilitate this, DA has been supporting and initiating efforts aimed at the development of rural farm and nonfarm enterprises. The DA group conducts skill development research, identifies skill gaps, provides marketable skills and conducts enterprise training programmes.
Forty per cent India’s burgeoning population is in the age group of 18 to 35 years and considered young and employable. Approximately 13 million people enter the workforce every year in the country, and more than 400 million people currently work in the informal sector. However, the other side of the reality is an inadequate education system, a huge gap in the area of training and capacity building and few formal skill building mechanisms available to uplift the population’s skill sets. This has resulted in a majority of India’s youth potential being un-employable and a liability rather than an asset to the economy.
New opportunities in futuristic sectors such as renewable energy, waste management and clean technology production systems provide a potential for greening our economy through the creation of Green Jobs. Green jobs provide entrepreneurial opportunities that create pathways out of poverty, while reducing carbon dependency, regenerating the natural resource base and contributing towards sustainable growth of the national economy.
Programmatic Focus: The programme aims to enhance capacities of youth in rural and urban areas through training in employability skills and entrepreneurship abilities enabling them to exercise their economic potential with a special focus on ‘green jobs creation’.
Centres of Excellence
: The DA Group Headquarters building houses the Centre for Sustainable Futures, the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Housing and Rural Infrastructure, A Climate Change Centre and a Centre for Integrated Water Resources Management. These centres are engaged in cutting edge research on issues of global and national sustainable development, access of communities to basic needs goods and services and natural resources management. The Centres of Excellence are supported by technical and social laboratories.
- Product Development Centre: The Product Development Centre is the heart of technology and product research and development. It consists of a mechanical design studio and two product development workshops in New Delhi and Orchha equipped with state of art mechanical engineering equipment. A fully equipped laboratory for pulp, paper, tetra-pack and bio-mass waste treatment is also available. The Centre provides design, development and prototype development support to the business affiliates of the DA group and to external clients.
- Building Materials Laboratories: Two laboratories in Delhi and Datia are equipped with a Material Research Facilities to undertake testing and analyses of soils, clay and non- clay-based bricks and building materials.
- TARA Environment Monitoring Facility: Established in 1990 in New Delhi, the environment monitoring facility provides core research and technical support for design and development of environment improvement products and technologies. It has the capability for monitoring and analysis of drinking water, stack and ambient air, energy and emissions, waste water treatment for domestic and industrial applications and soil quality and fertility for agricultural purposes.
: TARAgram is a unique concept; a livelihood resource center and a social laboratory demonstrating models of sustainable development, with facilities for training and conferencing. It is as much a destination for practitioners in their quest for new learning, as it is for the local village community whom it seeks to serve. Three such TARAgrams have now been established.
The Bodh, Conference Facility at the DA Headquarters Building
- TARAgram Orchha: TARAgram Orchha, located on the banks of Barberi stream is a Sustainable Livelihood Resource Centre close to the beautiful and historic town of Orchha. It was set up in 1995 as a technology village by Development Alternatives. It has, over the years, demonstrated the economic viability of sustainable production systems through an industrial estate for mini-enterprises, providing jobs for local people and generating goods and services for local markets.
- TARAgram Pahuj: TARAgram Pahuj is a Sustainable Livelihood Centre located near the Pahuj dam, in village Ambabai in Uttar Pradesh. The centre focuses on natural resource management and sustainable agricultural practices. It demonstrates rainwater harvesting, soil and moisture management practices, land reclamation and development especially using green organic manure.
- TARAgram Datia: TARAgram Datia, located strategically on the north-south highway corridor demonstrates different models of energy conservation and green technology. TARAgram Datia undertakes extensive research and demonstration related to the manufacture of energy efficient bricks. It houses a women’s entrepreneurship centre and provides facilities for training. A running model of the Eco-Brick Kiln that provides clean solutions for building construction and climate change mitigation, a materials laboratory and biomass gassifier that provides green power to the operations are located on campus.
: The conference and training facilities of Development Alternatives at the Headquarters in New Delhi are a hub for intellectual and cultural exchange on issues of sustainable development. An indoor discussion space for 80-100 participants, three smaller break-out rooms for 8-12 participants each and an amphitheater for approximately 200 persons are available for the DA Group, and like-minded institutions. Regular features at the Bodh include quarterly discussions on Sustainable Development – trialogue-2047 and a Thursday Movie Club.
Farmers’ Training Centre Pahuj
: Located in the TARAgram Pahuj campus, the centre demonstrates models of water conservation; harvesting and land use planning and promotes sustainable water management and agriculture practices. Its activities are aimed to generate awareness and build capacities of the local farming communities.
: Dedicated to the interests of the local rural communities, this community radio is managed in association with the communities living in the region of Tikamgarh and Jhansi districts in the Bundelkhand region of Central India. Radio Bundelkhand is located at TARAgram Orchha in Madhya Pradesh. Community radio services are broadcast daily from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM catering to the needs and aspirations of the local community. Radio Bundelkhand also offers training services to other community radios in content development and radio reporting.
Bundelkhand Conference and Training Centres
: The conference and training facilities of Development Alternatives at the Orchha and Pahuj Campuses in Bundelkhand, central India offer world-class ambience for meetings and workshops on issues of current interest, particularly sustainable global development. Situated in a rural Indian environment, the location offers a quiet and conducive atmosphere for creative thinking and discussions. The campuses directly demonstrate ecological living, sustainable livelihoods and resource efficiency in all their aspects. The buildings use local materials and indigenous technology for construction. Water is harvested through a check-dam and the campuses are electrified using renewable bio-mass energy sourced locally. The main conference center comprises a discussion space for up to 80 participants, 4 smaller meeting rooms for 8-10 participants each, a training hall for upto 25 participants and numerous semi-open breakout spaces for use as interactive meeting forums.
engages in scientific research and innovation, on-the-ground implementation of eco solutions as well as communication and policy influence.
Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA)
practices green business incubation and provides technical support services.
For-Profit Social Enterprises
TARA Machines and Tech Services Private Limited
promotes sustainable technology solutions for small and medium enterprises. It markets green technology solutions for building construction, waste recycling and handmade paper production, delivering business solutions to a global network of micro, small and medium enterprises, specialising in eco concrete, eco-kilns, fly ash and recycling technology.
TARAhaat Information and Marketing Services Private Limited
create micro-franchises to deliver IT enabled education and skill building products to young job seekers.
TARA Nirman Kendra
delivers environmentally friendly habitat products and services through a range of sustainable building technologies and advisory support.
markets cutting-edge products designed for safe water and other vital resources.
DESI Power Private Limited promotes biomass energy-based “EmPower” models for rural electrification and enterprise creation.
This approach and decentralised structure have helped us to enable local entrepreneurial and community energies and generate multipliers far beyond the wildest dreams of any new initiative. It allowed us to draw upon the millennial wisdom of our indigenous culture, whose languages are the only ones in the world that have a causative tense for their verbs – “karwana” and “banwana” – which mean to facilitate rather than do. This resonance with our nation’s deep psychology is one of the strongest ways in which we, as network enablers, can short-circuit the process by which every man, women and child in our country can hope to live a decent and fulfilling life. Most of all it prevents dependency and encourages dignity and ownership.
The DA Group envisions a world where every citizen can live in security, with a dignified job and an assured income. We believe that the key to achieving this is the creation of the means for sustainable livelihoods in large numbers - providing the rural poor with jobs and decent incomes, giving meaning and dignity to life, producing goods and services for local markets and preserving the environment.
The Governing Council is primarily responsible for an overall policy formulation and ensuring statutory compliance. They bring to the organisation systems thinking, institutional development, planning and management, legal and financial, gender and social issues, natural resources and environment, social enterprise and business expertise and experience.
Zayed International Prize for the Environment 2014
: Dr. Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives wins the Prestigious ZayedInternational Award for Scientific and Technological Achievement in Environment. The category is jointlyshared between Dr. Ashok Khosla (India) and Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia).
Changing Markets Award - Recognising champions for Green and inclusive Markets 2013
: DA group enterprise TARA Machines was awarded the internal selection team evaluated more than 130 applications from all over the world and has selected 3 inspiring business models which combine business acumen with environmental and social objectives, contributing to the transformation towards a greener, more inclusive world. TARA Machines is one of the Top three.
Global Go To Think Tanks Rankings 2013
–According to the Global Go to Think Tanks Rankings report 2013, issued by the University of Pennsylvania’s International Relations Program DA is rated among the Top 150 best think tanks in the world.
The 6th NarainDutt Award for the Conservation of Nature 2013
- DA’s overall ranking in the Top 150 Think Tanks – Worldwide (US and Non-US) is 140.
- It is 26th among the Think Tanks in China, India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
- DA is ranked 19th in the world under the category Think Tanks with the Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals.
- 40th in Think Tanks with the Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program
- It is ranked 21st Under Transparency and Good Governance Think Tanks.
- It is ranked 42nd under the world’s Top 70 Environment Think Tanks.
- Only organisation from India who has captured two new rankings - one in Best Trans disciplinary Research Program at a Think Tank ranked 52nd and the other in Best Use of Social Networks also ranked 52nd.
- The NarainDutt Award for the Conservation of Nature, instituted by the NarainDharmarthAushdhalaya Trust acknowledges the contribution of extraordinary human beings and institutions working towards natural conservation and service to humanity. This year, Development Alternatives Group has been selected by The NarainDharmarthAushdhalaya Trust for exemplary work in conservation of natural resources and promoting sustainable development in India and the world.
The Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE), IPECSR Corporate Governance Awards 2012
: Social Innovation Award- The awards merit recognition to contributions made by an organisation which has made a difference to the people and the community and played a role of responsible citizen.
WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal 2011
– DA Founder and Chairman Dr. Ashok Khosla receives WWF gold medal at Buckingham Palace in recognition of outstanding service to the environment.
Global Go To Think Tanks Rankings
– Development Alternatives wins top standing in four major categories according to University of Pennsylvania’s 2012 International Relations Program Report.
Top 50: greatest impact on global public policy
Top 30: transparency and good governance
Top 30: best use of communications media
Top 30: external relations/public engagement
JCB - Confederation of Indian Industry- APTDC 2nd Runner-up Award for Excellence in Waste Management, 2011
– CLEAN-India’s Dindigul project is honoured for its community initiative involving students in setting up an entrepreneurial waste management system.
Manthan Award Special Mention 2011
– Radio Bundelkhand is recognised for enabling informed dialogue and rural empowerment.
Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia Award, 2011
–Radio Bundelkhand won the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia Award for promoting the local culture of Bundelkhand through its programmes.
India NGO Award 2010
– as the best NGO in the regional category (northern zone)
Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta Samman, 2010
– to Air Vice Marshall Sahni, Senior Advisor, Development Alternatives for his work in the degraded land and wasteland of Bundelkhand.
NDTV-Toyota Green Award 2010
- to Development Alternatives World Headquarters in the category of Green Design
World Bank Global Development Marketplace Competition
Order of the British Empire (OBE) Award
Tech Awards Laureate by the Tech Museum of Innovation
- 2008 - for DESI Power as one of the 25 best of the best technologies of the world
Tech Awards Laureate under the Equality category
- 2008 - for the Lifelines Project that is being implemented by TARAhaat
National Award for Women’s Development through application of science and technology
- 2007 - for developing low-cost and portable water-testing kits for use in rural areas
Manthan AIF Award - 2006
- for best e-content and creativity under the environment category in India for the CLEAN-India website
World Bank Global Development Marketplace Competition - 2006
- for the DESI Power 100 Village Employment & Power Partnership Programme
Schwab Foundation Outstanding Social Entrepreneurship Award - 2004
- for market-based solutions to social problems
Samsung Digital Hope Award - 2003
- for innovative use of ICT for rural masses in India
United Nations- Habitat Dubai Best Practices Award - 2002
- for its role as the technological partner with CARE-India in the Orissa Cyclone Reconstruction Programme
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Environment Prize - 2002
- for outstanding global achievements in the field of environment
The Stockholm Challenge Award - 2001
- for contribution to the global movement of building a better information society for all
The Jawaharlal Nehru Prize - 1998
- for the popularisation of science by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA)
Sri M. Viswevaraya Prize - 1995
- for Micro Concrete Roofing Technology by Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) and the Hari Om Ashram Trust, Gujarat
Order of the Golden Ark of Netherlands - 1994
- To Dr Ashok Khosla for leadership in promoting the environment and development cause
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global 500 Award - 1992
- for global achievements in the field of environment
Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) Certificate of Appreciation - 1989
- for contribution towards protection of the environment
In pursuit of its mission to create sustainable livelihoods, Development Alternatives focuses on Bundelkhand in Central India. The region comprises 13 districts of the States of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Bundelkhand is a microcosm of the Indian rural economy, one of the poorest and most backward regions in the country.
Agriculture in this region is vastly rain-dependent, diverse, complex, underinvested, risky and vulnerable. In addition, extreme weather conditions, like droughts, short-term rain and flooding in fields add to the uncertainties and seasonal migrations. Scarcity of water in the semi-arid region with poor soil and low productivity further aggravates the problem of food security. More than one third of the households are considered to be Below the Poverty Line. Lack of employment opportunities, insecurity of livelihoods and lack of supportive governance have led to large scale migration. The literacy rate is very low, with female illiteracy being way below the national average.
Development Alternatives makes it a high priority to change this around. It has set up three resource centres in Orchha, Datia and Pahuj, on a unique concept called TARAgram. These are livelihood resource centers demonstrating models of sustainable development. TARAgrams are as much a destination for practitioners in their quest for new learning as for local village communities whom these centers seek to serve.
The main focus of work here has been on regeneration of natural resources through modern scientific practices and local knowledge and strengthening community institutions.
The Natural Resources Management (NRM) programme in Bundelkhand has contributed to the regeneration of over 25,000 hectares of land and interventions have directly contributed to an enhancement of 15 to 20% in the incomes of more than 10,000 farmers in the region. Women, farmers and artisan groups have been organised as collectives and community based enterprise models developed for them. Work with village governance system is leading to improving access of families to public programmes, schemes and funds for housing, water supply, sanitation and village infrastructure.
Today, Development Alternatives works directly in over a 250 villages in three districts and reaches out to various civil society and self help groups in the remaining 10 districts of Bundelkhand.
TARAgram Yatra 2016, to be held in the month of September, will focus on the nature of policy shifts required to implement Agenda 2030, better known as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in our nation. Yatra 2016, to
be organised on the theme: Policy Shifts for Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in India will begin in New Delhi. Celebrating transitions towards implementation of the SDGs, Yatra 2016 will witness a marked
change in its usual course. Roundtable consultations and conversations on the issues that affect the relevant geographies in India will take place in the States, thereby infusing a flavour of ground realities into the dialogue. The
conversations will deliberate on the issues of resource efficiency in urban affordable housing, WASH, and agriculture among others, where they matter the most – in the hubs of policy implementation. Yatra 2016 will have a special
focus on SDGs 2 (No Hunger); 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation); 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy); 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); and 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production). Innovative field visits will bring practical
challenges and potential into the plenary session to be held in New Delhi on the final day of Yatra 2016.
TARAgram Mela 2015
TARAgram Yatra - The journey so far...
FCRA Financials 14-15
FCRA Grant receipt 2015-16
FCRA Grant receipt 2016-17