This initiative, which began in 1990, is a registered NGO working with marginalized women, men, children, the landless, and the disabled in the drought-prone Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, India. As of April 2019, the Timbaktu Collective works in 179 villages and serves 22,879 families. Their vision is to empower rural communities to govern themselves, live in social harmony, and maintain a sustainable lifestyle. Their mission is to enable those who are marginalized to enhance their livelihood resources, get organized, work toward social justice and gender equity, and lead meaningful and joyous lives.
Timbaktu believes in autonomy and helps set up people–owned business enterprises. They develop models that address the rights of the marginalized through the ecological restoration of wastelands, organic farming and marketing, alternative banking, credit creation, legal aid and counselling for women, child–friendly education and spaces, animal husbandry, and disability support. They have a farmers’ cooperative and processing and packaging plants, and provide numerous extension services.
Bablu Ganguly, the secretary and chief functionary of the Timbaktu Collective, shared a story about a village that had lost almost all of their investments due to lack of rain during a long period of drought. Through help from the Collective, a group of 30 farmers were able to convert to organic farming. Their soil has since improved and the farmers now depend only on themselves.
Photo by Timbaktu Collective