‘Solve small, dent big’

What started as an ef­fort by Reap Ben­e­fit to build prob­lem-solv­ing skills in stu­dents is trans­form­ing into a move­ment

The Hindu - - EDGE -

Bhavya Venkatesh Armed with prob­lem­solv­ing skills and tech­nol­ogy tools, the fu­ture is ex­cit­ing for Reap Ben­e­fit.

When Pra­cheth, a class IX stu­dent of TVS Tumkur no­ticed the de­plet­ing qual­ity of air in his lo­cal­ity, he de­cided to take mat­ters into his own hands. He de­vel­oped a low­cost car­bon col­lec­tor us­ing a can and fil­ter paper. When fit­ted to the ex­haust pipe of ve­hi­cles, the de­vice could col­lect car­bon and con­vert it into ink. He is cur­rently work­ing on per­fect­ing his in­ven­tion.

Jonathan, a stu­dent of class XII in Delhi Pub­lic School, North Bengaluru, cap­tured data on wa­ter us­age from 20 houses in his com­mu­nity. He was then able to iden­tify be­hav­iour changes that could re­duce wa­ter us­age and run a cam­paign to con­vince house­holds to in­stall Us­age Point Op­ti­mis­ers.

Pra­cheth and Jonathan have some­thing in com­mon be­sides a burn­ing de­sire to ef­fect pos­i­tive change in their com­mu­ni­ties — they are both ‘Solve Nin­jas’ men­tored by Reap Ben­e­fit, a so­cial en­ter­prise that works with young peo­ple to solve en­vi­ron­men­tal and civic prob­lems us­ing lo­cal data and af­ford­able civic so­lu­tions.

Cham­pi­oning change

In a coun­try where less than one per cent of cit­i­zens are be­lieved to be en­gaged in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, Reap Ben­e­fit aims to be a plat­form for the youth to be­come ac­tion-based cit­i­zen cham­pi­ons. “The vi­sion of Reap Ben­e­fit is to in­spire and ac­ti­vate ev­ery cit­i­zen to solve small and dent big through cit­i­zen ac­tions in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Our mis­sion is to in­crease the civic mus­cle of young peo­ple,” ex­plains Kuldeep Dan­te­wa­dia, CEO and co-founder of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The ap­proach is twopronged. The first is through ex­ten­sive grass­roots mo­bil­i­sa­tion pro­grammes to en­gage young­sters in a cy­cle of prob­lem solv­ing. Through var­i­ous pro­grammes in schools and col­leges, stu­dents are in­tro­duced to the con­cept of prob­lem solv­ing — they dis­cover and in­ves­ti­gate lo­cal civic and en­vi­ron­ment is­sues, co-cre­ate so­lu­tions, and share their sto­ries. ‘Solve Nin­jas’ are categorised into four per­sonas based on their work — Re­port­ing Rhino, Cam­paign Chameleon, Hands on Hippo and Techno Tiger. Since its launch in 2012, Reap Ben­e­fit has en­gaged about 24,000 ‘Solve Nin­jas’, with 5,00,000 hours of cit­i­zen prob­lem solv­ing. Ow­ing to the civic so­lu­tions de­vel­oped, 44 mil­lion tonnes of wa­ter and 1.7 mil­lion units of elec­tric­ity have been saved.

Apart from long term en­gage­ment, Reap Ben­e­fit also en­gages stu­dents in one-totwo hour ses­sions called ‘Sol­vathons’. “Be­fore a Reap Ben­e­fit in­ter­ven­tion, most young peo­ple would have never even taken an ac­tion in their com­mu­nity. Now, we see that, on an av­er­age they at least take one or two ac­tions dur­ing our in­ter­ven­tion,” ob­serves Kuldeep.

Dig­i­tal drive

The sec­ond strat­egy that the or­gan­i­sa­tion is look­ing to har­ness is tech­nol­ogy. What started as an ef­fort to build prob­lem-solv­ing skills in stu­dents is trans­form­ing into a move­ment of pub­lic prob­lem-solv­ing, through the Solve Ninja app, a vir­tual plat­form that ac­cel­er­ates pub­lic prob­lem solv­ing and en­ables a col­lab­o­ra­tive net­work.

Launched in 2018, the app en­ables users to re­port is­sues in their lo­cal­i­ties, crowd­source lo­cal so­lu­tions and con­nect with the lo­cal govern­ment. They could also start cam­paigns to gar­ner sup­port and funds for a cause.

Armed with prob­lem-solv­ing skills and tech­nol­ogy tools, the fu­ture is ex­cit­ing for Reap Ben­e­fit. The mis­sion is to ac­ti­vate one mil­lion Solve Nin­jas by 2022. “Our fu­ture plan is to build an army of Solve Nin­jas who can start solv­ing lo­cal is­sues in their neigh­bour­hood and we hope to do it through grass­root mo­bil­i­sa­tion and tech­nol­ogy, and us­ing lo­cal data, lo­cal so­lu­tions and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,” signs off Kuldeep.

Ac­tion-based cit­i­zens: Men­tored by Reap Ben­e­fit.

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