In 1994, a group of students from Mumbai started KHOJ in Melghat, Maharashtra. Their goal was to explore the rich biodiversity of the region and understand the reasons for the alarming rate of malnutrition and child mortality. On further inspection, they found that it was not just about malnutrition but the marginalization of the communities to the brink of survival.
This exploration to address the inequality led to the formal registration of KHOJ as an NGO in 1997. Now, KHOJ is involved in facilitating effective planning and utilization of resources and strengthening local village bodies, such as Gram Sabhas; facilitating protection, promotion and documentation of local biodiversity; improving access to government resources and services through Community-based Monitoring of health and nutrition services; supporting emergency health and educational needs; and providing ground-based policy advocacy to help communities access Govt. policies.
In 2014, KHOJ approached Sunlit Future to install a solar water pump in Madizadap, a village nested on the top of a forest in Melghat Tiger Sanctuary. As the village is in the core area of the Sanctuary, they have several restrictions and poor access to amenities. We installed the solar pump to reduce their dependence on the forest and diversify their sources of livelihoods. Now, they can grow a low water-intense second crop and grow vegetables round the year. Sabulal, a member of the community, demonstrated its potential when he planted Moong and Rajgira using water from the solar pump and earned Rs.5000 by selling the Rajgira!
Till date, Sunlit Future has installed five solar water pumps for KHOJ in Melghat. These projects have impacted the lives of 2,000 people living in marginalised communities.