Founded in 1993, GDS started working with traditional rural artisans and broadened its field-based interventions in East UP (Sant Kabir Nagar, Gorakhpur and Basti districts) focusing towards strengthening women’s livelihood in the rural areas by organizing poor women into SHGs around savings and credit and promotion of group based non-farm enterprises, following the ‘rural entrepreneurship development’ approach. The organization increased its focus on ‘existing’ livelihoods, by providing critical missing inputs (contingency approach) in farm-based livelihoods promotion among small and marginal farmers (on sustainable agriculture lines) for income and food securitythrough initiating larger community institutions like federations along with the rights based approach to women empowerment.
2000 – 2005
In 2000, GDS diversified to both new regions and approaches within rural livelihoods. It also initiated operations in flood prone areas (Mahrajganj district) of eastern Uttar Pradesh, with a focus on Community Based Disaster Preparedness model integrating preparedness, livelihoods and advocacy. A knowledge platform, The Resource Center, was established to concretize field learnings through research, documentation, training and Advocacy. GDS in collaboration with UNDP – Government of Rajasthan initiated a project in the Jawaja Development Block of Ajmer District in Central Rajasthan to address the issue of poor women’s access to and control over natural and local resources.
2005 – 2010
With support from the DFID-PACS Programme, GDS started the Livelihood Augmentation and Women’s Empowerment Project in Lalitpur district of Bundelkhand region of UP. Also in 2006, the organization started mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into its organizational agenda. GDS, entered into an issue based networking mode to undertake building a region specific model of poverty alleviation with key focus on agricultural development. It was decided to intervene in the issues related to migration in eastern UP at two locations, Sant Kabir Nagar (source) and Lucknow (destination). Goat based livelihood model for Bundelkhand region was initiated. Another initiative started was strengthening the Primary Producer Company with Aloe Vera cultivations in Jawaja, Rajasthan among the women community.
GDS got accreditation from the New Delhi based Credibility Alliance and also got registered under the Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. Agriculture focused interventions are launched in support with SDTT & allied Trusts and ITC. Network approach was strengthened involving more partner NGOs under GDS lead role. The experiences of farmers owned business enterprise were replicated through establishment of LAPCL at Pharenda, Mahrajganj. Community based WASH interventions were taken up in support with Oxfam India and WaterAid India. UNICEF and LWR have supported for disaster risk reduction initiative taken in northern Bihar. The organisational system, policies and strategies were brought to the tune of emerging challenges. Exploration of new rooms for expanding partnership base is an on-going process to lead towards its stated mission.