Laya makes a difference in empowering marginalized communities


Looking Backward.... Looking Forward
Evolution of Laya

Laya’s journey began in 1985, when the current directors set foot in a remote adivasi area of East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh. Ever since, the Laya team has traversed a long and winding road, parts of which were arduous and parts that were comfortable to tread. However, the path taken has been full of lessons learnt along the route and the way forward has always been exciting…

Over time, our involvement comprises various phases of engagement:

The years 1984 to 1989 could be considered as the first phase, during which the entire Laya team was based at Addateegala, East Godavari District. The initial learning of the world-view of the adivasi communities came from day to day interactions with the local representatives. We began to understand the nature of the symbiotic relationship of land and the well-being of adivasis. Laya has been involved in identifying issues of concern for local communities, such as:

  • Learning and responding to issues of land alienation
  • Access to forests
  • Depletion of water resources
  • Lack of access to government programs
  • Issues related to agricultural credit
  • Lack of access to education.

During this time, various initiatives on health, primary education, social forestry and local empowerment were being set-up.

The second phase, between 1989-1995, saw Laya being independently registered as a society. It was at this time that the Laya Resource Center was established at Visakhapatnam. Various initiatives and concepts were developed during these years:

  • Evolution of the youth agenda
  • Alternative education processes
  • Engagement in herbal based health care
  • Exploration of a field base in the remote adivasi belt in Visakhapatnam district
  • Campaign on displacement along a major river belt in the Eastern Ghats
  • Introduction of the decentralization process in the management of various Laya program initiatives.

Post 1995, the third phase, Laya was registered under the Foreign Contribution and Regulation Act. This registration made it relatively easier to access resource support from external agencies based outside the country. In the process, we developed systems of management and governance mechanisms and systematic intervention strategies through the unit approach. Today, the units are the backbone of the structural growth of the Laya Resource Center and they embody an effective decentralization process.

  • Established Project LAYA under Society for People's Action for Development(SPADE), 1985
  • First Office, Located in a thatched hut in a remote village, Tungamadugula
  • Early beginning on issues of land, 'de-certifying' of powerful non-tribal families
  • Intervention in relation to social forestry government programme, non-formal education, health, agricultural development, work with youth and women, thrift and micro credit
  • LAYA is registered at Visakhapatnam
  • Established LAYA Resource Centre
  • Campaign against repeal of protective law for Adivasis Regulation 1/70
  • Decentralized units for thematic areas of work established
  • Initiated youth training programmes at the central (Yuva Parichay) and regional levels (Youva Sikshna and Yuva Chaitanya)
  • Thatched centre established in Sirsapalli, Paderu
  • Established ‘Mannemlo’, a news letter in Telugu
  • FCRA registration
  • Management and Governance Systems established
  • Early deliberations on Climate Change
  • Executive Director becomes a member of Ethical response Team, Climate Change, WCC Geneva
  • INECC founded, Executive Director of LAYA as Convener of INECC
  • Initiation of ‘EcoEthic’ a newsletter on climate and environmental issues
  • LAYA-INECC organizes an alternative event on Climate Change during Conference of Parties (COP)8, UNFCCC, New Delhi
  • Jointly promoted Indian Institute of Paralegal Studies (IIPLS)
  • Established Vanantharam to legitimize Herbal Based Health Care systems
  • Crash literacy programme for Adivasi Women Leaders established
  • Adivasi Samvaad III, a national event organized at Addateegala
  • Associate Director, elected as member of the Executive council of ASPBAE, bringing insights on lifelong learning to LAYA
  • Setting up of decentralized energy clusters
  • Key micro-hydro project set up at Pathakota, East Godavari district
  • Laya Receive observer status at UNFCCC
  • First Carbon credit programme registered under the Gold Standard
  • Registration of a pharmacy in Vanantharam
  • New Laya office at Visakhapatnam
  • 10-dya crash literacy documented in UNESCO library of the Institue of Lifelong Learning(UILL)
  • Consultative status to UN Economic and Social Council(ECOSCOC)
  • Paderu office cum training centre established
  • Health Award of Excellence received by Herbal Based Health Care Unit
  • First course on Herbal Based Health care as a part of the community College idea initiated
  • Andhra Pradesh State Biodiversity Conserver Award
  • Begin documentation of Stories of Change of Laya’s interventions
  • Change Management Committee established and Succession Plan put into place
  • Response to Pandemic

The key units comprise of:

The Directors of Laya focus on linking micro concerns with macro issues; on networking and resource raising measures. An unintentional involvement of one of the Directors with climate issues in 1993 has now led to a full-fledged involvement of Laya Resource with climate change concerns, nationally and internationally. Laya Resource Center acts as the secretariat of INECC, of which it is a founder member and the Executive Director, its Convener.

Journeying through years of experience, Laya Resource Center is now grappling with conceptualization and engagement of ‘education for sustainable development goals’ in the context of a paradigm shift of development concerns. Laya is also promoting meaningful interventions which are related to social enterprise as part of its efforts towards becoming increasingly sustainable in the years to come.

Consultative Status : UN Economic and Social Council
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