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TDH in India


Mother and Child Health ● Water, sanitation and hygiene ● Child trafficking ● Disaster management


Active in India since 1971, Terre des hommes (Tdh) runs projects dealing with health, water and sanitation and fight against child trafficking. Disaster preparedness is a cross cutting issue in all activities.

The situation of the children

  • 27% of the population is less than 15 years old
  • 66 children out of 1'000 die before the age of 5 (CH: 4‰)
  • 28% of infants with low birth weight
  • 12% of the 5-14 years old work (12.6 million children engaged in hazardous work)
  • 47% of the girls marry before the age of 18
  • Only 41% of the births are registered


India, the most populous democracy in the world is also a country of many contrasts. Despite rapid economic growth, nearly half of the children in the country are malnourished and remain disadvantaged due to poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Drop out rates from schools are high for girls with many of them marrying as children. India is a major source, destination and transit country for child trafficking (linked to debt bondage, forced labour, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, etc).


  • Health and nutrition: In the Andaman Islands, Tdh and its partners improve children’s access to health facilities in close collaboration with the Government. Tdh strengthens existing health structures, carries out medical examinations with referrals, and promotes healthy behaviour. In West Bengal a newly launched project in a remote and isolated area of the Sundarbans (Ganges Delta) aims at protecting 19’000 children from malnutrition and supporting recovery of severely malnourished children in a Special Nutrition Centre.
  • Water and sanitation: In the Andaman Islands and Andhra Pradesh Tdh improves water and sanitation infrastructure in communities and schools. Ecological Sanitation which is particularly suited for flood prone areas is promoted at the household level in Andhra Pradesh. Intensive hygiene awareness sessions with children in schools and their families help to decrease the risks of water borne diseases; this is of particular importance during emergencies.
  • Anti-child trafficking: Since 2006, Tdh has worked with shelter homes supporting survivors of trafficking and improving their standards of care and protection. A new programme focuses on repatriation and reintegration of trafficked children into society – both in Nepal and India.
  • Disaster management: All working areas are highly prone to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and earth quakes. Tdh mainstreams disaster preparedness in its development projects, and responds if needs arises with emergency relief aid.

Results in 2010

  • In Andhra Pradesh, Tdh supported 1’400 families affected by floods with agricultural and fishing equipment to restore their livelihoods. Reconstruction work has also started to improve the water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions in 17 villages and 16 schools.
  • In the Andaman Islands, Tdh continued to work in 29 villages on two Islands, providing health check-ups, life skills training, counseling and hygiene education to 5’309 children.
  • 238 survivors of trafficking residing in NGO- and government-run shelter homes in Kolkata were provided with rehabilitation services, such as counseling, vocational training, education, and life skills training.
  • 27 trafficked Nepali children were repatriated to Nepal where Tdh is working on their reintegration into society.


Survivors of sexual exploitation.

Saved from a red-light district, Parama and Lakshmi, aged 14 years, were taken to Sneha, a girl child shelter run by Tdh’s partner. Upon arrival, the young girls were anxious, driven by a feeling of hatred and felt they had no future prospects.

In 2007, Parama and Lakshmi took part to the first training session organised within Tdh’s supported programme which aims to offer quality care services and social reintegration to young people. The objective of this training was to give young victims of abuse and mistreatment a sense of self-awareness as well as the ability to resolve their problems by themselves.

At the beginning, Lakshmi and Parama found it hard to comply with the strict regulations of the training. Their lack of discipline meant they were often excluded from classes! But their study programme also included exercises to improve their self-control. They learned to master their emotions and to become part of a group of people. Parama confirmed that she has become more attentive, patient and has gained self confidence. Lakshmi added that she could resolve her problems by herself and also help others to do the same.

In September 2008, after succeeding in-depth interviews, Parama and Lakshmi became trainers themselves. Today, Lakshmi and Parama are both doing well.

India in figures

  • Population: 1.2 billion (CH : 7,6 millions)
  • Life expectancy: 64 years
  • Life expectation from birth: 61 years
  • 42% of the population lives on less than 1.25 dollars
  • Human development index: 121st country out of 169 (CH : 13th)
  • Price of a medical examination: CHF 4.-
  • 1 kg of rice: CHF 0.50
  • I kg of sugar: CHF 0.50

What TDH can do with:

  • CHF 10.-: Provide education materials to a child for a year;
  • CHF 20.-: Provide emergency relief food package for a family;
  • CHF 80.-: Install water filtering equipment in a school.

Presence of TDH in India

DELEGATE: Christian Gemperli ● TDH EMPLOYEES : 7 ● INTERVENTION AREAS: West Bengal, Andaman Islands, Andhra Pradesh ● PARTNER ORGANISATIONS: Arthik Samata Mandal, Kiranmayi Socio Educational Society, PRAYAS, SANLAAP, SEEDS-India, Sundarban Social Development Centre ● BUDGET: CHF 1’199’430.-

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