Sustainable, Impactful Projects Win the Honors
Panchalee Thakur

Project of the Year – Contribution to Community Award

Skills training center by L&T in rural Madhya Pradesh aims to improve the employability of rural youth
Larsen and Toubro (L&T) applied mature project practices and innovative ideas to set up the Construction Skills Training Centre (CSTC) in rural Madhya Pradesh to provide access to job-ready skills to the rural youth.

The training facility in village Satmohini in district Khandwa aims to bring the employability of rural youth in construction projects on a par with those in urban areas.

Capacity Building through Skills Training
The winning project was completed ahead of schedule, in just three months. Since its launch on 1 February 2016, the center has trained 85 people. At full capacity, CSTC can train 400 people in a year. In the next phase of expansion in 2018-19, it will accommodate 800 people in a year.

Currently, training is being imparted in three construction skills of bar bending, formwork, and masonry. Training on mechanical skills will commence in 2018-19. There are discussions to cover electrical works at a later stage.

The objectives of this project are to impart industry-ready skills and improve the employability of village youth, and upgrade the skills of those who are already familiar with these trades.

According to surveys done by L&T in the surrounding villages, training will improve the earning capacity of the youth to Rs. 400-500 a day, with a monthly take-home of Rs. 12,000-15,000. This will substantially boost the current household income in the region, which is Rs. 5,000-8,000 a month.

Overcoming the Initial Challenges
Thorough planning, timely mobilization of resources, close monitoring of progress by the project management cell, and proactive stakeholder management were some of the key factors behind the early completion of CSTC’s construction. L&T brought in innovation in the center’s layout so that it can train a large number of people at the same time. A single space can be utilized for conducting training in different disciplines; resources are cross utilized for various training purposes. However, L&T soon realized that erecting the physical infrastructure was a smaller milestone compared to the challenges ahead. The real test was to overcome the mental barriers of the intended beneficiaries of CSTC. It took significant effort by the team to convince villagers to come forward and utilize the training facilities.

There was a great deal of resistance from the community to undergo training without getting paid for it. Villagers didn’t see the value in giving their time for an activity if there was no immediate monetary gains from it. That led L&T to introduce a stipend for those undergoing training at CSTC.

The team is currently running awareness campaigns in 20 villages in the center’s vicinity. These are regular follow-ups to address any remaining concerns in the villagers’ mind. These continuous efforts are slowly drawing villagers to the training facility.

Making it Effective and Sustainable
Training is imparted according to a curriculum designed in consultation with industry experts to understand new trends and prevailing construction practices. Students also have the advantage of receiving hands-on training at a construction site near its premises.

“We expect CSTC to convert this region into a preferred hiring hub for employers look for skilled labor for their construction projects. Employers will have access to a skilled workforce equipped with the latest practices, time management thought processes, and efficient and effective work methods,” said Namita Gopal, head corporate social responsibility, L&T Power.

Besides expanding the facility, L&T is replicating it in other locations. The second training facility is coming up in Chhabra, Rajasthan, for which the company has tied up with the Rajasthan Skills and Livelihood Development Corporation and Department of Technical Education, Government of Rajasthan.

To make the CSTC project sustainable, the company has selected training equipment and tools that offer the best utilization rate. It has analyzed the procurement and total lifecycle cost of brands before selecting them for the center. Care has also been taken to select material that can be reused and keep the amount of scrap produced to the minimum.

It cost L&T Rs. 57 lakh to get the project up and running. It estimates the running and other miscellaneous costs to be Rs. 18 lakh a year. When this cost is calculated in relation to the center’s intended benefits, in terms of how much each trainee stands to gain monetarily, it comes to 1:3.5. In other words, the social benefits are expected to far outweigh the costs.

L&T calculates that for each person who receives training, another four people will be indirectly benefitted since the average size of each family in the region is five. Hence once CSTC reaches its full training potential of 800 people a year, a total of 4,000 people will receive indirect benefits each year.

L&T expects CSTC to also contribute to improving the productivity of the workforce and align training certification to the needs of the country.

Project of the Year – NGO Award
World Vision India brings relief to the flood affected with an effective emergency response plan and strategy Mobile app-based requirements gathering, risk analysis, and community involvement in decision-making were some factors that went into the emergency flood relief strategy adopted by World Vision India (WVI) to tackle the humanitarian crisis that coastal Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh faced in December 2015.

The excellence and innovation in project management that WVI demonstrated in this project won the organization PMI India’s Project of the Year – NGO (Non-Government Organization) award.

The project that started in November 2015 after the first spell of heavy rains continued till March 2016. Overall around 15,000 families received relief kits. The team conducted two medical camps, set up child friendly spaces that benefited over 400 children, and conducted awareness building activities in the community on water conservation, hygiene, and sanitation. The team distributed 150,000 water purification sachets and installed six bio-digester eco-friendly toilets that helped around 25,000 people.

Fast Response as Disaster Unfolds
As rains continued to lash the coastal regions, WVI closely monitored the weather conditions and the unfolding situation on the ground. With more areas in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh getting inundated, the team got down to identifying badly affected neighborhoods and people who needed immediate relief.

WVI used its Basic Rapid Assessment Tools (iBRAT) on Android mobile phones to conduct quick needs assessments on the ground. With iBRAT, the relief team collected data on damages suffered, especially on the needs of children affected by the floods.

An appeal for donations with a target to collect US$ 2 million was put out to carry out immediate emergency response in Chennai, Cuddalore, and Nellore. One of the major donors was IDFC Foundation, the CSR arm of IDFC Bank. In all, donors from around the world and 35 other corporates supported this initiative.

By 4 December, the organization had put together a response strategy, response plan, and budget for a 60-day relief project.

WVI’s enterprise risk management team assessed the situation before giving the go-ahead for the relief operation. Some of the factors considered were: political will and support for such response, the existence of a coalition of NGOs, staff security, and the active engagement of the state disaster management authority and the central government’s National Disaster Relief Force during the relief operations.

Being a part of Sphere India and the Inter Agency Group, a coalition of NGOs that provide humanitarian emergency relief services, WVI participated in meetings called to discuss relief efforts immediately after the floods. “These meetings helped NGOs to share and understand each other’s response plans, sectors of focus, and the geographical areas being covered. To a large extent, it reduced duplication of relief efforts and interventions as well as wastage of resources,” said Kunal Shah, director - disaster management, World Vision India.

Keeping the Community Involved
WVI used data from its own volunteers and other agencies to select areas that needed help. These primary target areas included inundated neighborhoods along the banks of the Adyar river in Chennai such as Saidapet and Egmore, Thondiarpet, Thiruvallur, and Vysarpadi.

Beneficiaries were selected on the basis of a stringent process, formed in consultation with community based organizations in these regions. The criteria for selection of beneficiaries included impact by the flood, loss of property, loss of livelihood, and the total number of children and dependents in a family. Single parent households, orphan and vulnerable children, children living with guardians, people with disabilities, and pregnant and lactating mothers got priority.

WVI consulted these community based organizations before deciding on the relief material to be distributed. The kits included essentials such as clothes, bed linen, basic kitchen equipment, towel, torch light, tarpaulin sheet, hygiene products, and dry groceries.

Though there were several reports of looting and vandalism during distribution of relief material, the WVI team didn’t face any difficulties. Beneficiaries were given tokens and called in batches to collect supplies. Those on the priority list received supplies first.

“We followed a consultative approach and discussed with community members their specific needs. The priority list of beneficiaries too was prepared in consultation with community based organizations. Once the beneficiaries were selected and tokens issued, we organized distribution in a school or a public ground, closest to where the beneficiaries lived. This model of consulting and involving those affected by the disaster helped provide the assistance people want and not what we think they need,” explained Cherian Thomas, CEO and national director, World Vision India.

Award Winners Case Study