About - Social Transformation

The Social Transformation Division was established with the mandate of equipping policy-makers with relevant information and strategic inputs from the grassroots. The domain and influence of this Division has evolved over the years by continuously juxtaposing the latest knowledge and trends in technology and the contours of development with the array of problems plaguing the unserved and underserved. With a broader focus of undertaking activities aimed at ameliorating environmental problems at the local level, the Division has looked into a variety of development programmes spanning various disciplines, such as integrated rural development, watershed development, energy poverty, and natural resource management. In all of the aforementioned spheres, attention is given to including and instituting elements of sustainability by incorporating outputs that are linked to the livelihoods 15 Annual Report 2012–13 of local stakeholders. Further, immense care is taken that all outputs evolve from an approach that is, to the greatest extent possible, participatory, holistic, and gendered. A staggering 1.3 billion people across the globe still do not have access to electricity, while 2.6 billion do not have access to clean cooking facilities. These people are mainly in either developing Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, primarily residing in rural areas. Consequently, there exists an urgent need to achieve efficient energy access for masses deprived of these basic amenities, crucial to their development.

The Social Transformation Division of TERI is working towards the goal of sustainable energy security for all. The Division, through its flagship programme, Lighting a Billion Lives (LaBL), has continued its journey by adopting a localized, bottom-up approach where the energy starved population can benefit from clean and affordable solar lighting solutions. This is done by replacing kerosene/paraffin lanterns with solar lighting devices, thereby facilitating, the provision of better illumination, a kerosene smoke-free indoor environment for women to do household chores, education of children, and providing opportunities for livelihoods both at individual and village levels. The model envisages setting up of solar lantern charging stations (SCSs) and/or solar DC micro grids (SMGs) using the fee-for-service model which also ensures livelihood opportunities for the rural entrepreneur managing the SCS or SMG. The aforementioned entrepreneur-based model echoes with the focus of the Division, which has been working on developing effective business models for facilitating access to both solar PV-based lighting and improved cooking facilities. The integration of lighting and cooking solutions provides wider acceptance at the grassroots and also results in an intervention where the sum is often greater than its parts. The year 2012-13 saw significant scaling up of activities, both in terms of numbers as well as geographical spread. One key aspect identified in the course of the Programme was to ensure that after-sales services of lighting and cooking solutions is effectively in place at the local level. This has led to the establishment of 'Energy Enterprises' (EE) across states and districts where the Programme is present. An EE is a local-level renewable energy enterprise envisaged to ensure availability of various clean energy technologies at the local level along with providing responsive and timely after-sales support to these clean energy technologies.

Given that the Division is committed to the provision of universal energy access - consumptive and productive energy services, especially in rural and geographically remote areas - their work is largely based on constant designing and developing of replicable models benefiting rural communities in India, Africa, and beyond. During the year of reporting, the Division has expanded and incubated partnerships and built capacities of stakeholders - civil society, public sector undertakings (PSUs), corporates, financial institutions, and local businesses and entrepreneurs - in order to create an enabling environment for the adoption of relevant clean technology solutions. In addition, the provisioning of real time solutions to challenges posed by rural communities, especially with respect to clean lighting and cooking is important.

Over the past few years, TERI has also focused on aspects related to planning for Integrated Rural Development. The process initiated two decades ago focusing on integrated energy planning for clusters of villages-including planning at block and district level-has evolved to include other sectors of rural infrastructure, both social and physical. Over the past year, the Division has taken its work of benchmarking rural infrastructure forward, taking into account the constant state of flux that rural regions are in, especially if forces of urbanization are acting in close quarters. This approach has successfully been used for development of extensive village and cluster plans for the Dholera Special Investment Region Development Authority (DSIRDA), Government of Gujarat. TERI, in association with the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) is providing MELD services to the Kar nataka Watershed Development Department to enhance the effectiveness of the Integrated Watershed management Programme (IWMP) implementation through timely knowledge and learning inputs to the project decision-making system. A comprehensive baseline study was conducted in all the sub watersheds to understand the socio-economic profile of the target community. Documenting 132 case studies on socio-economic, institutional, and livelihood aspects have created a repertoire of best practices and showcase the impact of the project on the rural poor.

The renewed interest in the biomass sector in many countries stems from the emerging importance of issues pertaining to climate change and sustainable management of natural resources by policy-makers. This has meant new opportunities in the biomass sector to develop technologies, commercialize them, encourage their use, and understand the supply chain of biomass. An innovative project commissioned by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) focuses on establishing a set of methodologies for assessing biomass availability and supply chains at the revenue district level. This project is aimed at achieving sustainability of biomass resource management informed by ground realities, as well as understanding various actors involved in the supply chain, including the gender perspective.