South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA) is a non-profit, secular organization working for the past two decades in undivided Koraput Districts,one of the poorest districts in Odisha, India. We empower the most disadvantaged members of society, especially women and children,to improve their own lives through healthcare, education, governance, livelihood,disaster relief and child rights. Our participatory process motivates tribal and other marginalised people to work together to fight poverty, exploitation and discrimination so they can become free and equal members of society.
Our journey began in 1993, when the tribal and other marginalized people of Koraput were displaced by the construction of the Upper Kolab Hydroelectric Dam in seventies. People who had been living for centuries along the reservoirs were forced to move much further uphill,where the land was not as suitable for agriculture and lacked other natural resources -like forests. As a result,the many essential infrastructure and key institutions of the tribals fell apart.The displaced people were grappling with the difficulties of starting over again when we stepped in. We motivated them to form groups to discuss issues, fight for their rights, plan for their future and regain their sense of community.
Over the years South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA) realised that more strategic interventions were necessary to achieve a healthy and sustainable society. We carried out thorough needs assessments and introduced an innovative and responsible program approach in the areas of quality education, promotion of community health,village governance,livelihoods and promotion of child rights. The organisation’s capacity for disaster relief was strengthened in light of a changing climate and indiscriminate industrialization. The operational area slowly increased from only 13 villages in 1993 to 3500 villages in undivided Koraput Districts. Having built strong and trusting relationships with the communities we serve we observed a particular vulnerability among the tribal women and children and put them at the heart of our vision and mission
By partnering with local and national NGOs as well as government agencies, our combined efforts form a much bigger picture for eliminating poverty in India. As a lead NGO in South Odisha, we build the capacity of local NGOs and community-based organizations so they can work to their full potential.
The grassroots community organizations and programs we develop and support provide tribals a platform to make informed decisions, stand up for their rights and help each other thrive. We measure success not by our own actions, but by those adopted and carried forward by the tribals themselves