Banwasi Seva Ashram came into existence when its primary work area - South Sonbhadra (then South Mirzapur) - was in crisis, due to a severe famine in 1954. Credit goes to its founding father, the then Chief Minister, Govind Vallabh Pant, who thought of research and development needed to achieve the objective of developing the tribals and leased out 250 acres of forest land for Banwasi Seva Ashram. Its founder members were experienced social workers.
The Ashram's approach is to go into the depth of the problem faced by its beneficiary community, to find appropriate solutions and then implement the programmes with the involvement of the beneficiaries. The framework developed for the involvement and improvement of the beneficiary community is named Gramswaraj Sabha Sangathan.
At present, the Ashram has nine major departments: Women's Empowerment, Education, Khadi and Village Industry, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Health, Environment, Support to Other Volunteer Groups, Gram Nirman or Village Development with and thirteen Village Development Centres.
Ashram staff at present (March 2015) is 126 (114 locals) who receive living allowances and basic facilities. There are 21 women in the staff out of whom four are in an administrative position. In addition, 32 volunteers are working on various short term projects.
The problems addressed:
The development activities undertaken so far in Sonbhadra area:
Extension of benefits of learning to other areas through voluntary organisations under different schemes:
(Schemes 1 to 4 are underway in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Assam)