The Himmotthan Society works in the field of rural development in the Central Himalayan region of Northern India. Various programmes of the Society reach over 600 villages across the northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, involving over 70,000 households. Initiated as an evaluation and monitoring unit, Himmotthan has grown over the years to incorporate strategy development and design as a major component of its activities. Piloting of new ideas, developing scaling up processes and building sustainable community institutions are core areas of intervention of the Society. Himmotthan works closely and actively with over 20 NGO partners, research institutions, corporates and the state government of Uttarakhand towards improving schemes, systems and policy.

Himmotthan has a staff of over 50, with its headquarters in Uttarakhand's capital, Dehradun, and 7 field offices in the mountains across 6 districts.).

Himmotthan’s programmes are designed to be implemented at scale across many districts. Implementation is therefore designed to be done by village level community based organizations (Self Help Groups or Activity based groups, like Farmer Groups), supported and monitored closely by NGOs based in the area. The NGOs also liaise and fund raise towards the projects. As of now Himmotthan has over 1200 Village groups, with which over 13000 rural women are associated, grouped together under 32 Coorporations which carry out numerous market based activities. Activities take place in collaboration with and with the support of the Block level, district and central state administration.

Website: http://www.himmotthan.in/

Possible volunteering opportunities

There are several different projects, with which volunteers can potentially get involved. These are described briefly below.

Project 1: “Integrated Fodder and Livestock Development Project”

Possible Internships working with cattle, goats, poultry, fodder development etc.:

  1. Study of the village organization institutional structure and strengths and help design a village cluster based milk and milk product value chain, along with a business plan for milk federations, or meat based markets.
  2. Veterinary doctors – the state of animal health in the regions needs desperate attention. The state is the only recruiter of veterinary doctors. This project has a programme on training village youth as para-vets, who then look after their cluster of villages – the activity has had good success. However a larger study of the situation is required, with assessments of weaknesses, strengths and needs. Individual studies on animal (cattle and small ruminants) health (including traditional medicines used for animals), and general assistance are also welcome.
  3. Biomass production studies – The project has a large component of fodder plantations of different species at different altitudes and aspects. Biomass studies of these plantations, comparable to surrounding areas outside the plots are regularly required.

Project 2: “Water and Sanitation Programme”

Possible Internships:

  1. Study and documentation of the community institutions developed by the project which are involved in the operations and management of the programme after the implementers have moved on.
  2. A part of this project is catchment definition, protection and revival. In this project detailed hydro-geological studies are carried out for the upper catchments of source streams. These are ongoing studies and studies on new areas need to be done. Also, villagers and partner NGOs are being trained in the understanding of local hydro-geology.
  3. Irrigation options: Solar pumping is one option being opened for irrigation, as are other alternatives like drip. Studies in this field are required.

Project 3: “Honey Production Increase studies”

Possible Internship: Based on the traditional techniques used by high altitude villagers for honey production, develop indictors for high altitude honey production studies, including for pollen collection. Help design a project to increase honey production, value addition and marketing of high altitude Himalayan honey.

Project 4: “Energy”

Possible Internship: The focus in this phase is on two modes of energy generation – Solar power and Bio-gas. Solar power will be used for pumping water or electricity generation. Bio-gas plants will be set up to use locally available biogas for generating gas to be used for cooking purposes. Both methods are very different and require specified technical know-how. Village level organizations will be linked institutionally to the systems, for long term sustainability.

Project 5: “Mountain Agriculture”

Possible Internship: Himmothan has started a new mountain agriculture programme, which is working in 5 clusters of villages (approximately 45 villages) across the region with small farmers, to increase farm productivity, and to link produce to the market, to result in increased incomes from agriculture. In this new project, various areas for study would include general community studies and documentation of the farmers lives and the production process, working on the post harvest technologies, development of business plans for specific products, and studying the market.

Project 6: “Documentation and case study development across projects”

Possible Internship: Himmothan requires assistance in documentation of case studies, photographic documentation, development of short film clips and website design and upgradation, across projects. English skills are often an issue with field based teams and assistance in the field activity documentation is always appreciated.

Project 7: “Assist in teaching, research and academic works in Primary Schools in Uttarakhand”

Possible Internship: A year ago Himmotthan initiated a programme in primary schools of the region. The project on - “Aao Angrezi Sikhe” (Come, let’s learn English) program was to empower socially and economically disadvantaged students studying in mainstream regional medium elementary schools, with a basic proficiency in English. Amongst next steps in the coming months would include assessing the program in all schools and improving its efficacy. Interns can assist in teaching kindergarten, elementary and upper primary classes, and assist in monitoring and assessments. Some background in teaching/ associating with children will help, as will good communication skills, and creativity.

Preferred Skills

Open to THIRD/FOURTH year undergraduates or any graduate students with both social sciences and physical sciences backgrounds.

Approximate cost

You should expect to spend about £900 for eight weeks - this covers costs for food and accommodation, as well as local travel. There are no programme fees payable to Camvol.

In addition to these local costs, volunteers will need to book return flights to India (typically about £550 if booked early), and apply for an entry visa, as required by the Indian High Commission (for visa charges, please check the Indian visa facilitation service website for exact fees).

Vaccination and other medical costs have NOT been included in estimated costs, and applicants should take this into account while planning their budgets. If you intend to travel for recreation and tourism, these costs will be additional, so please budget accordingly.

Financial support is available, including Camvol-CMEDT Commonwealth Travelling Scholarships; support from Colleges; and from the University. If selected, the Camvol Director can advise about funding opportunities.