Humana People to People India (HPPI) is a not-for-profit, development organisation that is non-political and secular. It is a part of the International Humana People to People Movement that spans 43 countries across Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Latin America, and is headquartered in Shamva, Zimbabwe. These autonomous development organisations in various countries form the Federation of Associations connected to the Movement. Each of the 32 members of the Federation are all locally registered and independent organisations with their own development agenda.

HPPI’s stated mission is ‘to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.’ Unlike most NGOs in the country, its programmes span multiple areas of intervention.

Operating since 1998, HPPI works on numerous programmes for poor and underprivileged communities in rural and urban India. Partnering with international and national organisations including the government, it has implemented more than 140 projects across the country. Currently, more than 50 projects are in the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, reaching out to around two million people annually.

HPPI’s projects cover a wide range of intervention areas: education, CDP (community development project/programme) and livelihood, health, environment and microfinance. It should be pointed out these areas overlap in many projects – for example, an urban community development project will also have health components.

The unit of operation is the project. Each project’s concept has to be agreed upon by the people involved and then the specific aims and action steps are formulated. A project leader is assigned who lives with the targeted community and shares the overall responsibility with one or more co-project leaders and a project council. They conduct situation and needs assessments and baseline surveys, though details are sparse.

Here we take a closer look at HPPI’s work:

1. Education: The organisation runs five educational programmes. Necessary Teacher Training Program (NeTT) is a two-year teacher training project in partnership with the state governments in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, based on a digital pedagogical framework called Doctrine of Modern Method (DMM). Both students and teachers are responsible for the structure and standard of education that are powered by technology. It is currently being implemented in 23 institutions.

Kadam is a year-long programme at Step-Up centres for holistic development of underprivileged, out-of-school children. It provides a mix of formal learning and skill-based experiences for six days in a week. The idea is to address factors that result in low enrolment and retention of students. Started in 2012, currently there are 396 Step-Up centres that reach out to 11,307 children across 11 districts of Haryana.

The Academy for Working Children (AWC) works on providing basic, activity-based education to street and working children, primarily from migrant families, who have either dropped out of school or never been to one. The AWCs work with these children on sanitation, personality development and primary education, and are operational in six locations of Rajasthan and NCR. The Kadam programme, including AWC, provided education to 14,560 children in 2016–17.

Girls Bridge Education is targeted at out-of-school girls in the 9 to 14 years age group. HPPI has established two such centres in Rajasthan and Haryana with the objective of enrolling them in mainstream schools. These centres conduct daily classes to provide learning support.

Another project under its ambit is the three-year programme Ilam Mottukal where HPPI has partnered with corporate partners in 81 government schools at Ottapidaram and Thoothukudi blocks of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) district in Tamil Nadu, aiming to help about 8,000 girls from grades 1 to 8 each year.

Lastly, Prarambh is a school for teacher education, a four-year integrated residential Bachelor of Education programme. The goal is to train teachers who serve the requirements of the National Curriculum Framework. In 2013, HPPI signed an MOU with the Haryana government to establish this school in Jhajjar. The organisation claims to track the progress of students up to a stipulated time frame after the project closure – for example, out-of-school children are tracked for six months after they graduate from the programme.

2. Livelihood and community development: Projects are designed to develop skills and livelihood-earning capacity of community members. These are touted as well-planned end-to-end solutions for productivity and income enhancement through capacity building. As per claims, more than 72,000 families and 260,000 individuals have benefited.

In rural areas the main issue in focus is food security, which is addressed through sustainable farm-based livelihoods. This is achieved through organising farmers through SHGs and Gram Kisan Sanghs, increase in wealth, food and nutrition security, sustainable irrigation and farming practices (organic farming, horticulture, crop management and diversification, livestock management, etc.), and improving land quality. Other measures are setting up skills and vocational centres for young people and promoting biogas plants. The organisation currently works with 15,000 small and marginal farmers with extended benefits to 90,000 rural people across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Urban interventions have been implemented in partnership with the government and private organisations – two are in poor, densely populated areas in Delhi North and Delhi East, and the third one is for migrant workers in the slum areas of Gurgaon. These include gender resource centre (SHGs, legal aid, vocational training), homeless resource centre, health (health camps, awareness campaigns, pre- and post-natal care), and urban community development (skills training, environmental protection, food security and legal aid). Homeless resource centres provide education, health services, skill development and night rescue during Delhi’s bitter winter. It has helped over 25,000 people with direct relief assistance and benefited 1,900 people through 4 night shelters. In 2016–17, about 15,000 homeless people in Delhi were given help.

Skill development courses cover computer and data entry, mobile repairing, sales training, hair and beauty, tailoring, handicrafts and English speaking. One project in Bihar called Shaksham uses such training to improve the economic status of VOCSETs (victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking) and WAA (women affected by AIDS). To date, 5,753 women have been impacted. Other programmes are three-month financial literacy courses that reached out to 37,740 women in 2016-17, and Disha, implemented in partnership with UNDP, which helped 12,765 women in Haryana build their entrepreneurship capabilities.

3. Health: HPPI works to to link beneficiaries to existing public health facilities. Such projects take the form of awareness campaigns, implementing diagnostic procedures, building mobile and stationary rural clinics, community mobilisation through SHGs, farmers’ clubs, youth clubs, etc., and outreach activities. There is focus also on improving access to essential health services and preventing communicable diseases like HIV/Aids and TB as well as non-communicable diseases like diabetes. HPPI claims to have impacted 600,000 people directly since 1999.

As of now, community health projects are running in Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, with six clinics in Haryana delivering services to at least 6,000 people on weekly basis. On HIV prevention, Hope Centres in Delhi and Haryana aim to curb HIV transmission among high-risk groups like female sex workers and migrant workers through behaviour change communication, condom promotion, management of sexually transmitted infections, and creating an enabling environment. They have reached out to more than 1,000 sex workers and 10,000 migrants.

4. Environment: The focus areas are solar energy, water recharge, green-cover management and biogas. Solar projects involve setting up solar mini grids and solar-charging stations in villages in partnership with government and civil society organisations. This includes a project in collaboration with TERI, GAIA and USAID that cover 100 villages in Uttar Pradesh, and another that has established 20 solar mini grids in 20 model villages in partnership with TERI under the ‘Lighting a Billion Lives’ program, in Karahal block of Sheopur district, Madhya Pradesh.

HPPI’s biogas initiatives have resulted in the construction of 722 biogas plants across Rajasthan and Haryana (100 in FY 2017), directly impacting more than 4,332 people in the last few years. Its water initiatives aim to create access to safe and clean drinking water in villages and urban slums. Location-specific procedures and agreements within the user community for sustainable use of water, sustainable use of groundwater, low-technology water-conservation methods, training of farmers, water-quality testing, installation of domestic de-fluoridation units, etc., are some of the main activities taken up.

The tree-planting programme has seen the planting of more than 1 million trees in the last 2 years across 62 projects in 6 states. In FY 2017, 17,011 trees were planted. e-Waste recycling programmes are operational in Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi to create awareness and better waste-management systems with safer recycling, handling and disposal. It has registered more than 3,157 shopkeepers and secured more than 153,150 green points for e-waste collection.

5. Microfinance: HPPI started delving into microfinance in 2007 in Bansur block of Alwar district, Rajasthan. Since then, its microfinance projects have impacted more than 110,000 women members in 10,878 groups in 1,324 villages in 22 districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. The cumulative loan amount disbursed is Rs 368 crore, with a loan outstanding of Rs 57 crore. Nearly 87 per cent was invested in animal husbandry and 13 per cent in small-scale business. HPPI claims repayment rates of more than 99 per cent on these collateral-free loans. It partners with both government agencies and private companies on such projects.

Impact and partnerships

The number of people impacted through HPPI’s numerous interventions is extremely impressive, if even half-true. In 2016–17, the numbers were more than 2 million beneficiaries through 60 development projects and 40 microfinance branches. In all, 1.2 million women were empowered through its many projects and more than 60,000 women got access to microcredit. Moreover, 40,000 children and 5,000 teachers have benefited through in-school interventions. For instance, through Kadam Learning Enabling Activity Programme (enhanced) or LEAPe programme that aims to improve reading skills in primary-school children in three districts of Madhya Pradesh, 10,258 children were positively impacted in 2016–17. Its diabetes detection and care project in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, running in 74 villages has trained 39,905 school students of 156 schools and 1,925 Asha and Anganwadi health workers.

Through its environment initiatives, 3,220 tonnes of CO2 are offset annually through 685 biogas units; 85,363 m3 of total groundwater are recharged; and 90,000 people have benefited directly. While the recovery rates for its microfinance loans are high (although it went down in FY 2017 because of demonetisation), data on the economic conditions of the borrowers would have been more pertinent.

To assess ongoing progress of its projects, data on output indicators are collected daily, weekly, or monthly (depending on project type). Detailed planning for the project includes a comprehensive annual work plan (AWP) that is reviewed every three months. Planning includes project detailing, scheduling, human and financial resource management, and M&E (monitoring and evaluation) systems for financials and performance monitoring. The project activities and success are measured against the proposed timelines and milestones defined at the start of the project.

HPPI’s partners run well over 60. Over 40 per cent of its revenues went into its education programmes, with livelihood and CDP and microfinance coming a joint second. In FY 2017, Rs 19.5 crore of its revenue or funding came from foreign donations, while non-foreign was Rs 12.1 crore. Income from microfinance activities including interest was Rs 10 crore. Some of the largest donors that year were corporates like Vedanta, Nokia India, The Federation, Johnson & Johnson, and CRISIL Limited, charities and foundations like Plan International-India, Dell Giving, Azim Premji Philanthropy, and Education Above All Foundation, government agencies like Haryana Council for Education, Research and Training, and its very own Federation of Associations, which was the biggest contributor.

Future goals include establishing 1,200 Step-Up centres, reaching out to 300,000 children over the next 10 years. In HPPI’s own words, ‘The plan for the next five years is to further strengthen the delivery mechanisms and achieve superior operational reliability so that the programmes are sustained, in addition to being appropriate quality services delivered in cost-effective ways.’

CB view

While HPPI has been doing some much-needed work in multiple areas, questions remain on its many claims about the impact of its programmes. While a few assessment reports are available online, considering the sheer number of projects it is involved in, such reports should be the norm rather than an exception. The annual report will also become a much more meaningful exercise if it includes data on impact and gaps. Assessment reports should also have information on initial feasibility studies, benchmarking and goal-setting (assuming here that the organisation already collects this kind of data), improvement areas, and follow-up studies to understand the long-term impact, among others. It is not known if external agencies have verified these assessment reports.

Strangely enough, while the organisation did respond to our questionnaire (albeit, very late), the answers were vague, meandering, and did not directly address the actual questions asked. For instance, queries related to selecting projects or assessing feasibility were met with generic terms like ‘baseline surveys’. Eventually, we received some responses that at least attempted to address a few of our many questions.

With the many scandals that have plagued the International Humana People to People Movement, especially its supposed founder Mogens Amdi Petersen, and claims of a cult-like secretive organisation, there are enough reasons to be wary of the data provided by HPPI, even though it is a separate, independent entity. However, it can easily counter such suspicions by releasing comprehensive data on its programmes and getting them audited by reputable firms, as it does with its financial statements. The best way to dispel negative perceptions, whether deserved or not, is transparency and accountability.

Another recommendation would be to streamline the number of projects and areas of operations. Right now HPPI seems to have its finger in multiple pies but there seems to be little reason to believe that this is a strategy that’s working for them. Most of its monetary investments, as well as the better designed projects, are in education and livelihood and it would be prudent to focus on these areas and do them right. HPPI already has the network and funding, and it makes sense to leverage these in a smart, effective way.