Selfless Service - For You, For Us.

Sustainable Agriculture
Pre-Primary Education
Primary Education
Secondary Education (KKB)
Self Help

Community Health

Sustainalble Agriculture

Goal: Promotion of sustainable agriculture mostly in irrigated and intensively cultivated areas of southern Bengal.
Started: 1992

Project Area:
North 24 Parganas District: 20 villages of 9 Gram Panchayats in 5 blocks : Baduria , Swarupnagar, Sandeshkhali-II, Basirhat-I , Hingalganj ( with approx direct bénéficiaires – 1236 and indirect beneficiaries ~ 4000 farmers )

Saliet feature of agriculture in Project Area:
  • Plenty of rainfall ; ground water readily available
  • Very high population density
  • Almost year-round cultivation, with all land under double/triple cropping. Very little uncultivated land or common property resources (CPRs)
  • Very high use of chemicals ; even the smallest farmer is a commercial and chemical farmer
  • Very little bio-waste which can be used as soil nutrients compared to the area’s need
  • Toxic amount of arsenic has appeared in ground water which is used for drinking. Many people have died and millions are getting poisoned. The consensus is that appearance of arsenic is due to overdrawing of ground water for unsustainable cropping patterns.
  • Similar conditions exist in an area of approximately 15,000 spread over 10 districts of South West Bengal with an approximate population of 20 million, and also in a large part of Bangladesh.
  • Sundarbans which also falls in our project area is an exception. Saline ground water, rainfed single cropped area. In 2009, super cyclone, 'AILA' has devasted entire islands and saline river water gushed into farmland and turned into barren.
  • Dyke erosion
  • New diseases of the plants due to climate change.
  • Unstable Agri market; high price of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Folk/traditional seed varieties are becoming extinct.
  • Rise of alkali/acid contents in the soil making its unsuitable for micro organisms.
  • Lack of interest in animal husbandry as well as fodder production.
  • Cropping Systems: Mixed & Inter-Cropping, Relay (Poyra) Cropping, Integrated Farming through Land Shaping ; Intensive Kitchen Garden, SRI, Special Methods for Saline Areas( Sundarban).
  • Soil Nutrients : Green Manure, Azolla, Compost, Vermicompost, various kinds of Liquid Compost, Fish Manure, Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Phospho Solubilising Bacteria (PSB) , Rock Phosphate, Pond Sludge, Oilseed Cake, etc.
  • Soil and Water Conservation: through mulching, through campaigning against Boro rice (the water-guzzling winter crop), Pitcher and Drum irrigation, Drinking water through rain water harvesting, System of Rice Intensification(SRI) etc.
  • Seed and Plant Propagation: nursery for seedlings and saplings; grafting to ensure better yield and quality; production, preservation, and supply of quality seeds of presently used and also of disappearing traditional varieties; seed treatment; community seed banks ( with traditional seeds).
  • Mangrove plantation and aforestration.
Introducing New Crops / Varieties of:
  • Promoting traditional rice varieties and its preservations and propagations.
  • Species of legumes, oilseeds, vegetables, fodder.
  • Plant Protection: using various botanical pest-and disease-controllers, bacterial control throughTrichoderma viridae, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in rice, Amritpani etc.
  • Animal Husbandry: New techniques in goat and country chicken rearing. Vaccination camps with Govt offices.
  • Health & Nutrition : Smokeless woven, Home Kitchen garden in rural area, Bucket farming in urban area. Kitchen gardens in primary and high schools.
  • Misc: popularizing herbals for common disease; Organic marketing; consumer awareness against food adulteration; Grain bank. Youth Group formation - Environment studies and basic orientation on sustainable agriculture.
Collaboration with Govt and Others:
  • Work with Central Integrated Pest Management Centre, Government of India, at Kolkata.
  • With Agriculture Development Officer (ADO) of Baduria , Deganga , Swarupnagar blocks, Sub divisional Agricultural Officer (SAO), Basirhat.
  • Agriculture Training Centre (ATC), Fulia, Nadia.
  • With Bidhan Chandra Agriculture University (BCKV) ; part of their Organic Farming network; participated in their Agri fair in 2006
  • We work closely with Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC) of Kolkata
  • With ISI, Kolkata studying the efficacy of alternate farming of ~ 500 farmers in 2009-10.
  • Participating in 'shodh yatra' in several states organized by National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad.
Training Events:
  • Vermicompost training to 2352 women members of 582 SHGs commissioned by Block Development Officer (BDO), Swarupnagar block in 2006.
  • Vermicompost training to 42 farmers of 8 Gram Panchayats(GP) of Baduria and Swarupnagar blocks commissioned by Block Horticulture Missions in 2008-09.
  • Sustainable Agriculture (SA): The basic concepts and some practices to 1057 farmers of 10 GPs commissioned by ADO, Swarupnagar block in 2007; Organic farming training to 103 farmers of 4 GPs commissioned by Block Horticulture Mission, Baduria block in 2009.
  • Since 2006 training given to many farmers and NGO workers on various aspects of Sustainable Agriculture through 15 NGOs in the districts of South 24 Parganas, Uttar Dinajpur, Birbhum, Howrah, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Purulia and Bankura
  • Training also given to the farmers via local NGOs in the states of Orissa and Jharkhand in 2009 and 2010.
  • World Vision India: Nutrition gardens and mushroom in kolkata sulm area. 31 participants
  • RDI : Kitchen garden, Mushroom, Goatry, poultry - 63 training and 1268 participants. 2012-13
  • Adra India : Nursery training -1 trg - 20 participants.
  • ETC (extension training centre) : Sustainable agriculture -2 trg -26 participants.
Spreading the Work
  • Street theatre has been used extensively for quite a few years for sensitization. Village notice boards, wall writings, posters, audio-visual shows are also used.
  • Swanirvar participates in many village fairs by setting up stalls.
  • Written and audiovisual documentation of models, trials, case studies is an on going process.
  • Organized seminar and workshops on sustainable agriculture.
  • From 1992 till date, the SA work of Swanirvar has been guided and funded by a Kolkata-based resource NGO-Development Research Communications and Services Centre (DRCSC).
  • From 2003 funding is being provided by Friends of Swanirvar, Worcester, England
  • From 2009 funding by CIVA, Canada
  • From 2010 funding by Aid Bay Area, USA
  • RKVY' 2012-13 under Horticulture Department, North 24 Parganas.
  • Women's Earth Alliance : From 2013

Primary Education

Goal: Evolve a more effective model for primary education (class I to IV, 5-10 age group).
Started: 1996
Current Status: 3 schools with about ~300 students
Teaching Learning Process:
  • Lots of work cards used.
  • Village life and environment used for education (not just text books & classroom).
  • Lots of group work
  • Own History and Environmental Studies books being used - the latter are translations of DIGANTARs (Jaipur, Rajasthan) Apne Aaas Paas series.
  • Action learning - role plays; debates; experiments; chart marking; cross checking by children; framing question; senior students conduct classes for juniors etc.
  • Art & Craft: Drawing; wall painting; origami and paper cutting; clay work; collage
  • Use of Audio-Visuals.
  • Better designed exam-evaluations - not from text books, not just memory test, but evaluating skills & concepts.
  • Library
  • Excursions to local archeological sites, amusement park, forest.
  • Cultural - physical activities: yoga, bratachari, singing, dancing, games, puppetry, theatre etc.
  • Special days celebrated: national days; rakhi bandhan; birthday of poets and leaders; some other secular days.
  • Sahitya Sabha: a programme organized and managed by the children where they do their own creative performances (learnt from Patha Bhavan, Santiniketan)
  • Childrens Committees: There are several such committees looking after cleaning of school premises, bathrooms, library, sahitya sabha, notice board, sports.
  • Friendship programme with local & international schools.
  • Teachers are all local villagers with diverse academic qualifications, but no formal teaching degree.
  • Initial training for 2 weeks in 2 phases by Vikramshila Education Resource Society (VERS) of Kolkata on basic Montessori principles.
  • Teachers Empowerment training programme under the guidance of Shikshamitra, Kolkata
  • Workshops by external resource persons mostly from Shikshamitra, Kolkata over the years on curriculum development, evaluation systems, environmental science, local history, language, puppetry etc.
  • Monthly reporting and review meetings.
  • 4-5 internal workshops every year on planning, making teaching aids, preparing exam papers etc.
  • Inter school peer review group visits.
  • Academic visits by supervisor: ~12/year.
  • Exposure tours.
Community Involvement:
  • Parents meetings 3 times a year
  • Home visits by teachers as and when necessary
  • Practical workshops with parents where they (i) actually do some of the new curricular activities for better understanding (ii) make teaching aids to be used in school.
  • Investigative local and family studies automatically get almost all the parents involved in the teaching-learning process.
  • Some parents and villagers invited to take specific classes; some also acting as resource persons during local studies done by children.
  • In Feb, 2004 we started giving training to others. 25 govt primary school teachers from 23 schools came for a one day training on 15th Feb, 2004 at our Fatullapur centre.
  • In July 2004, we along with our technical resource partner, Shikshamitra gave our first training to other NGOs. 51 teachers of 8 NGOs from 4 districts supported by Save The Children Fund underwent 5 days training at Swanirvar.
  • Newly hired District Quality Managers for SSK spent 5 days at Swanirvar during their initiation training in May, 2003 and in Nov, 2006.
  • Till May, 2013, training has been given to ~ 1900 teachers of 30 NGOs in 9 districts. This is our 15 day training package spread over 1-1.5 years in three installments of 5 day each.
  • Till July, 2013, 147 training events held for govt primary school teachers where total teachers participation was 2750. These are mostly one day training on Class I-II Bangla and Maths. Other subjects included EVS, Science, English, children with special needs, creative writing, evaluation, class management, art & craft etc.
State Roles:
  • Swanirvar education supervisors were active members of State Resource Groups of SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) on "Gender" and "Community Mobilization" between 2002-2004.
  • Swanirvar active in state and national level advocacy networks; WBEN (West Bengal Education Network) since 1996 and NAFRE (National Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education) since 1998. From 2012, Swanirvar is the district convener of WBEN.
  • From 2011, Swanirvar has given roles for quality development of 60 SSKs in Deganga Blocks.
Other Interventions:
  • Rakhi Celebrations: We started joint rakhi celebrations with 17 Govt. schools in 2000. In 2009 we did this with 150 Govt primary schools and 30 SSKs (Sishu Siksha Kendras) involving approximately 26,000 children, Presently we are working with 175 schools.
  • Joint Sahitya Sabha: This was started in 2002-03 with 12 Govt. schools. In 2009-10 there were 3 joint sahitya sabhas involving 15 schools with a participation of 2000 audience.
  • Individual Sahitya Sabha: In 2005-06 we assisted 4 schools to do individual sahitya sabha where ~150 children participated. So far 46 govt. schools have done individual sahitya sabha.
  • Resource Teachers-Parents TLM making joint workshop: Two special workshop with 14 resource teachers and 42 parents from 11 schools was held in January, 2010 at Uttar Diyara FP school and Iswarigacha FP School respectively under the supervision of Jaganathpur and Raghunathpur GP to make large number of work cards.
  • TLM making workshop with Teachers & Parents in individual schools: In 2010-11 there were TLM making workshops (class I-IV on Bengali and Math) with 53 teachers and 333 parents in 18 schools.
  • Parent's Meeting: From 2005-06 we have been assisting schools to hold lively parent's meetings. In 2009-10 we assisted 23 schools to hold parents meetings where 637 parents and 54 govt. teachers participated.
  • Children's committees: In 2005-06 we assisted one school to form children's committees for cleaning the premises, cleaning the toilets, and running a library etc, In 2010-11 this has gone up to 19 schools. In one SSK they have also started a vegetable garden.
  • Friendship Programme: A school friendship programme where children of one school exchange letters with those of another school has been quite popular in our 3 primary schools. This was established with schools in England. But we decided that such friendship can happen within our area also. So this year we have started such friendship where 22 Govt. primary schools exchange letters with 2 of our schools.
  • Art & Craft: Learnt from Shikshamitra, Kolkata in 2009 and 2010, 40 schools have been assisted where children have painted the walls of their schools.. Origami training given to 17 schools in 2010-11.
  • Cross Visit among schools: 48 Govt teachers from 35 schools came to a peer review visit to Swanirvar schools to understand this process.

Pre-Primary Education

Goal: To facilitate emergence of local institutions as vibrant, participatory, transparent and accountable institutions for child development as well as local governance that will take care of other related development issues to bring all-round development for the children

The Pre-Primary Centres:
  • In 1991-92 , fist pre-primary centre with 24 students started in Andharmanik- Kazipara.
  • In 1992-93 CRY started supporting this programme and three more centres were set up in Chandalati, Fatullapur and Bajitpur
  • In 1994-95 a fifth centre was started in Kolsur.
  • In 1995-96 Swanirvar teachers gave some training to youths from 8 other villages and centres were started in Gokulpur, Punra, Bhojpara, Deep Media, Rudrapur, Bagjola, Haiderpur and Beliakhali .
  • Two more centres at Matia and Uttar Media were started in 1997-98 taking the total number of centres to 15.
  • Almost all the teachers have undergone the full pre-primary training by VIKRAMSHILA Education Resource Society (VERS) of Kolkata.
  • Uttar Media dropped out in 2002-03 because of severe internal village rivalry. Swanirvar has been running 14 pre-primary centres with about 1000 children of 3-5 age group.
Stengthening Local Institutions:
From the year 2006 this department has been re-named SLI and here are the major components of its work.
  • CREATING SOME MODEL ICDS (Integrated Child Development Service) CENTRES. These are the govts pre-primary centres.
  • CREATING MODEL GRAM PANCHAYATS (Local village govt) AND GRAM UNNAYAN SAMITIES (Peoples Committees linked to the gram panchayat)
Those Who Helped:
  • Initial funds provided by CRY in 1996-97
  • Funds came from Ministry of Human Resource Development , Govt. of India during 1997-2002 under the Innovative Elementary Scheme (NFE-2000) via VERS, Kolkata.
  • Friends of Swanirvar, Worcester, England provided funds in 2001-02
  • ASHA for Education, Stanford in 2002-04; ASHA - Seattle, LA also joined along with Stanford in 2003-04.
  • Friends-LA, USA through Share & Care Foundation have given some funding over the years.
  • Share & Care Foundation, New Jersey, USA from 2005-06
  • Vibha, USA, from 2007-08

Secondary Education

Goal: To develop a need-based , locally -oriented, diversified curriculum for rural high schools. Village high school students will study their local social and physical environment, do hands-on activities to learn various subjects like history, geography, economics, civics, biology, physical science, mathematics. They would develop skills for collecting, recording, organizing, understanding and communicating information; would learn some vocational skills; socially useful productive work would be integrated into various subjects; and essential activities related to local government (panchayat) planning would get done in the process.

High school education in rural areas is restricted to the four walls of the classroom, and to generally unassimilated memorization of a huge amount of information from prescribed text books. The sole aim of the entire process is to get the student to score marks. Very important issues relevant to the students present, and in most cases, future life are either missing in the present curriculum or presented only for retention up to the time of a designated examination. For example, students get to know next to nothing about health issues like anaemia, diarrhoea, scabies, worms, immunization, water and sanitation, life/sex education, etc.; or about natural resource management issues like soil and water conservation, seed and plant propagation, soil nutrition, animal diseases, etc; or about very important subjects like disaster management, micro-finance, the 3-tier panchayat system, etc. However, the rural students physical and economic survival may very well depend on an intelligent and informed management of these issues throughout life.

Doing hands-on activities with 10-16 years old youths in local high schools, in their free time to begin with. Some of these activities could be directly related to their current school syllabus; some should be part of it. The youths are organized into groups called Kishor Kishori Bahini or KKB for short (In Bengali, a Kishor is an adolescent boy, and a Kishori a girl in that age group, while Bahini means an organized group.), and into Eco-groups.

From 1997 till 2006 Swanirvar has worked with 10-16 year old school going children by forming village youth groups .In their free time , once or twice a week and more during their vacations , they did a lot of surveys, their analysis, other useful activities and also learnt a lot of songs, dances , theatre , puppetry etc. We felt that all this should be part of school curriculum. In 2006 the Govt of West Bengal, following the Supreme Court order, decided to start teaching Environment as a separate subject from Class VI onwards. But no teachers or any training was provided. Many school asked Swanirvar staff to become the teachers of Environment and we started with 9 schools. Currently our 12 staff teach EVS in 21 schools with ~14,000 students and in 51 schools with 21000 students we give training with T.L.M. and follow up support we called these indirectly supported schools. We also conduct subject wise teachers Workshops and aiming a large network of resourceful innovative and enthusiastic teachers networks.

Started: 1996

Number Involved: In 2013, about 600 youths in 6 villages & ~42000 students in 72 High schools

Trainings Recieved and Work Being Done:
  • Common health issues, specially diarrhoea
  • Nursery for medicinal herbs, and use of various medicinal plants
  • Vaccinating livestock against common diseases (with help from the Governments Livestock Development Offices)
  • Sanitation
  • Fruit tree grafting
  • Anti-superstition shows
  • Nutrition
  • Nursery for vegetables and trees
  • Food processing
  • First aid
  • Conducting surveys; analyzing data
  • Panchayat (local village government) systems
  • Life/sex education
  • Practical environmental studies
  • Recycling paper and plastic to make utility and decorative items
  • Tube well disinfection
  • Land use map
  • Book binding
  • Intensive kitchen gardens
  • Poultry immunization
  • Yoga, songs, folk dances, theatre, puppetry.
  • Library
  • Notice boards
  • Resource centers
Surveys Done and Data Kept:
  • Existence of toilet facilities, and their various types
  • Tube wells
  • Daily temperature and rainfall
  • Incidence of diarrhoea and worm infestation
  • Domestic animals
  • Crops - their varieties and economics.
  • Right to education (RtE) information network in 11 high schools.
  • Drop out and school status database in 2 high schools
Environmental Studies:
Under the guidance of Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC), Kolkata, Swanirvars KKB has studied locally the following systematically and in detail.
  • Trees
  • Insects
  • Birds
  • Water
  • Fuel
  • Herbs
  • Rice
  • Fish
  • Garbage
  • Vegetables
  • Local economy
  • Social work
This has involved collecting information from various sources, surveys, observations, experiments, recording, analysis, making presentations and communicating.

Other Activities:
  • Running a library in their own villages
  • Village road repairing and cleaning
  • Carrying out awareness campaigns on subjects like arsenic in drinking water; hazards of thin plastic, etc.
  • Livening up Panchayat meetings with cultural programme
  • Intervention in and collaboration with local high schools
  • Senior KKB members acting as trainers and also involving more youths in neighbouring areas by forming Eco Groups.
  • KKB work shown on national TV several times in 1998-99.
  • India Today, a leading national news magazine, published a report in its July 8, 2002 issue.
  • Got The Telegraph school award for excellence in the category "The school that looks beyond" in 2002.
  • Work mentioned in The Gobar Times - a publication of the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.
  • Decorative items made from recycled plastic chosen for display in an exhibition in Japan in March 2004.
  • Invited to address elected officials in charge of education of middle-level local governments (Panchayat Samity Shiksha Karmadhyakshas) at the State Institute of Panchayats & Rural Development in June-July 2004.
In Govt High Schools:
We have finally made the desired breakthrough in govt high schools. It started with 2 schools in 2005 , 9 schools in 2006 and now we are teaching the subject of Environment in 21 high schools covering about 14,000 students also giving indirect inputs to 51 Govt High schools with ~35000 students. Subject wise teachers network ( Bengali, Math, English and Work education).

Those who helped:
The major part of the funds has come from Friends of Swanirvar, Worcester, England. They in turn obtained funds from National Lotteries Charitable Board, UK between 1997 and 2002 and since then, have done so from the Hilden Trust, UK. The other supporters have been:
  • Friends in the USA through Share & Care Foundation, USA.
  • CRY has given small amounts over the years.
  • NGOs which have inspired and helped - DRCSC, Nishtha, Sreema Mahila Samity, Bratachari Institute.
  • AID - Bay Area , USA have started supporting from April 2009.
  • Friends of Swanirvar, UK
  • Womens Earth Alliance, USA

Self Help

Phase One: 1990-1997

Individual savings and credit covering 800 women in 5 villages. The peak total savings was Rs.90,000. Total number of loans was 382 and the total amount was Rs.200,000.

Phase Two: 1997-2000

5 member groups formed as per the Bangladesh Grameen model and individual depositors gradually phased out . At the end of 2000 the total groups were 111 and members 555. Total number of loans in 3 years was 1144 and the total loan given was Rs.3.19 million.

Phase Three: 2000-Present

Switch over from Grameen model to SHG model with group size between 10 -20 with the help of Care West Bengal Status March 2008 : There are 8,168 members in 729 SHGs in 86 villages with a total savings of ~ Rs.10.8 million. The loans given out in one year 2007-08 amounted to Rs.36.4 million.


In 2004 Swanirvar was appointed as DTA for North 24 Parganas District Rural Development Corporation (DRDC) by the Panchayat and Rural Development Department ( PRDD) of West Bengal Govt to strengthen the government's delivery mechanism for SGSY ( Govt of India's SHG programme).

Those Who Helped:
  • In early phase, funds for loans came from VFKE , Flemhude, Germany.
  • The 2nd phase was funded by National Lotteries Charities Board (NLCB), now known as Community Fund of UK through Friends of Swanirvar, Worcester, England .
  • The 3rd phase was funded and technically assisted by CARE - West Bengal under the CASHE project till 2006.
  • The DTA project was funded by Govt of West Bengal , Panchayat & Rural Development Department. (2004-06) National Minorities Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC) , Kolkata has been providing loans since 2002-03. In 2007-08 they gave Rs. 4 million
  • Cash Credit account started with UCO Bank, Masalandapur from 2003-04 . In 2007-08 the cash credit limit was Rs.16 million.


Goal: Increase peoples capacities and provide services on aspects of preventive and curative health care.
Started: 1990

Broad Programmes:
  • Mother & Child Health (MCH) & Reproductive Health (RH): This peaked between 1999-2002 when we covered 4000 families in 11 villages
  • SANITATION: Smokeless Chulha (oven): between 1990-1997, 1314 chulhas in 14 villages; Low Cost Toilet: between 1992-2000, 2176 toilets in 11 villages.
  • SIMPLE TREATMENT: Simple allopathic treatment: in 1998-99, 4819 patients from 7 villages; Herbal Treatment: In 1998-99, 2944 patients from 7 villages
  • BLOOD DONATION , EYE CATARACT CAMPS: Voluntary Blood Donation Camps : 1998- 2006 ; 7280 donors in 102 camps; Eye Cataract Operation Camps : 1997-2001 ; 4 camps ; 187 cases
  • ARSENIC IN DRINKING WATER: As North 24 Parganas district is very heavily affected by arsenic contamination of ground water which is used by most people for drinking and there have been many deaths, from the year 2000 we shifted all our energies to this problem. Community Arsenic Removal Plants set up : 29 in 25 villages of N.24 Pgns and 4 of Nadia; Domestic Filters supplied : 709 in 14 villages; Total villages covered by intense awareness : 60; Special rainwater harvesting drive in 2008 : 27 villages
  • Low cost toilet shown on national TV several times from 1997 titled as "The Sanitation Man of Andharmanik"
  • Swanirvar has got the award for the highest number of blood donors for a social organization in the whole state 6 years in a row from 1999 onwards.
Those Who Helped:
  • Initial funds provided by CRY in early 1990s
  • AID-Maryland had been the major funding agency for many years
  • Friends-LA in USA through Share & Care Foundation have given some funding over the years.
  • Training, material and technical support has come from various resource NGOs in Kolkata WBVHA, BRWS, CINI.
  • Smokeless chulha support came from Social Welfare dept, Govt of West Bengal.
  • There has been close cooperation with the Block and District govt. health system for sterilization , supply of pills and condoms, sterilization operations , cataract removal etc.
  • Indo Canadian Environment Facility (ICEF) has provided funds and All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health ( AIIHPH), Kolkata the technical support for the "Community Based Project for the Mitigation of Arsenic in Drinking Water" between 2000 and 2006.
  • CIVA, Vancouver , Canada is supporting the Arsenic project from 2007-08

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