Urmul Setu is a member of Urmul network of organizations, working in western Rajasthan. For twenty-five years, Urmul has been innovating approaches for inducing community driven development by devising and sustaining programmes in the harsh and inhospitable Thar desert.
Urmul Setu’s endeavours focus on drought mitigation and disaster management, livelihoods, women empowerment, child rights, early childcare and development, improving access to basic amenities, with priority emphasis on food, fodder and water. Developing capacity of the community is at the core of all the efforts. We work towards strengthening faculties of the marginalized factions of the society, primarily women and children. All efforts are guided by spirit and trust that rests in people’s capability to steer in the much-needed socio-economic-cultural change.Urmul Setu adopts a multi-pronged approach to provide for holistic development.
Initially, in the absence of any government services, the initial approach of Urmul Setu had been towards service delivery especially in the areas of health and education wherein Urmul Setu trained community-based persons as health providers and teachers. Urmul Setu ran schools and hospitals. With the changing scenarios, and working across verticals ranging from INGOs, Governance, Self Help Groups and civil society organizations, we work at multiplying touch-points and thereby, their confluence; driving the community toward Rights-based development.The activities of Setu have so far concentrated on primary education, health care, group organisation, agriculture and animal husbandry, income-generation, water and sanitation, capacity building of local governments as well as advocacy.
Further, Setu has established a number of Sangathans (Organisations) as participatory platforms for people, especially women, with a common interest to come together and engage in collective action to improve their living conditions.However, with the coming in of government programmes and schemes and basic infrastructures, URMUL SETU has made a strategic shift. While continuing to focus on organising community around issues and building capacity for demanding their rights, it is now investing on working with the government in planning, implementation and monitoring of its programmes to ensure better delivery and reach. The URMUL SETU has been able to develop a good rapport with the government however the responsiveness of the government to community issues still needs to be addressed.
While most of the work of Urmul Setu is concentrated primarily in Lunkaransar block of Bikaner district, and extends to a few villages in the adjoining Chhatargarh block (Bikaner district) and Saradarsahar block of Churu district. Lunkaransar block comprises 130 revenue villages with a total population of 1,56,382. The interior villages of this block still lack access to the basic necessities of education, health, water, communication infrastructure, and employment opportunities. Milk production, sheep rearing for wool, and subsistence farming are the primary economic activities of the area. Setu works in 110 villages and Dhani’s (hamlets), which are distributed in three tehsils.
In the Urmul family Lunkaransar has a special place. It is the place where it all began! It is from here the family of Urmul grew, and extended.
Pioneer, flagship, and Staff bearer, Lunkaransar has had many identities. It has now emerged as the quintessential Setu or bridge that spans the meanderings of perceptions, policies, and practices which evolved within the entire Urmul experience.
A bridge that gave continuity and benchmarks, and from which one could look out on both sides: ‘learning’ and ‘doing’.