On May 1, 2020, WOTR brought together a diverse range of stakeholders including policy makers, government officials, researchers, corporate donor representatives, and development practitioners for a half-day virtual workshop in order to reach a consensus on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) for building resilience to COVID-19 in rural Maharashtra.
I was born on May 5, 1979 in the district of Kendrapara, Odisha. My father was a clerk and my mother a housewife. As we grew up in a joint family, we had lots of interaction with all family members. After doing my schooling in Odia medium, I went to the city of Bhubaneshwar, and did my BA and MA in History from the famous Utkal University. Typically, students of MA History try for civil services but owing to personal reasons, I chose not to go in for that. So I did an MPhil from Indore, the Babasaheb Ambedkar University of Social Sciences. I was attracted to the Development Sector, and this course gave me a chance to go into this. It was fun studying there as students from different backgrounds studied there and we got to experience a multi and trans-disciplinary.
Post my graduation from university, I worked in different institutions, gathering valuable experiences. I first worked in Madhya Pradesh, in the SEWA. After which I worked in the Centre for People’s Forestry Hyderabad. It was in September 2012 that I joined WOTR and have been working there since. I have worked in Jharkhand and now in Odisha.
A question arises, how do I feel about working in this sector? A major plus point about this sector is that we are working for the people. A second plus point is that we have varied experiences; those of my colleagues in government and similar professions do not have this variety of experiences. As far as minus points are concerned, I can say that it is not always possible to sustain work in a particular village. The projects need to be sustainable.
In a time of job hopping, I feel proud to have completed 7 years. The main reason is that WOTR, as an institution has good systems. These systems include the HR, Finances and the overall work culture of the organisation which is focused on performance and ethics. This has stood the organisation in good stead. I have enjoyed working here, and learned a lot.
As far as memorable experiences are concerned, I think working in the OTELP project in Gajapati district was one of the best experiences in my time at WOTR thus far. It was the first major project for WOTR in Odisha and we did a lot of capacity building for smaller NGOs in the district, which didn't have WOTR's human resources and technical skills. We thus contributed to their development in a meaningful way. For these reasons, I will always remember those days.
It is a matter of pride that today WOTR is present in two districts: Ganjam and Rayagada. Speaking from the Odisha context, one major challenge is increasing disaster risk resilience and disaster coping mechanisms. In the last 4-5 years, there have been several cyclones that have devastated the state. Though there have been very few deaths, but the state as a whole needs to become more resilient to disasters. This should be a priority going forward for Odisha.
Looking to the future, I would like there to be greater collaboration between WOTR and the state government of Odisha, as it is through this that real, meaningful change could happen. NGOs can play a role in filling gaps, which is the need of the hour in a state like Odisha. As a state, many parts of Odisha do not suffer from water scarcity but the water resources need to be managed effectively. The government and NGOs both must take this up seriously. That would be my wish, going forward.