OUTREACH was established in May l993 in response to the needs of communities living in the drought prone areas of South India and also in response to the growing need for training in the NGO sector and within the Governments. The idea was to focus on small NGOs, particularly those engaged in Natural Resources Management , wasteland development, micro watershed development, forestry & agro forestry, tank rehabilitation and so on. This was done with a view to enhancing their capabilities and effectiveness as development organizations. An important objective of OUTREACH was also to develop more effective interfacing between NGOs and GOs, especially those working in drought prone areas.
In order to demonstrate how the quality of life of poor communities living in these areas could be enhanced, OUTREACH established 8 direct project centres and at the same time linked up with a number of small NGOs who were also involved in addressing the issue of poverty in drought prone regions. The main thrust of the approach was the development of local initiatives in the form of Self Help Groups (SHGs), primarily women, enabling them to restore and manage the natural resources in their habitats and stabilize their livelihood systems. Non-land based economic activities also played a major role in OUTREACH approach. The SHGs would manage credit and at the same time take up integrated micro watershed development activities thereby improving their primary production base. Non-land based economic activities which follow the land based ones helped to deflect pressure on the natural resources in the habitat.
This approach is actively promoted by OUTREACH among other NGOs and Government projects working in similar regions in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The Partner NGOs are a part of a network consisting of five regional clusters in the Rayalseema (Chittoor, Cuddapah & Anantapur) region of Andhra Pradesh, the Dharmapuri District in Tamil Nadu and Bidar and Bijapur Districts in Northern Karnataka. Technical and managerial backup to NGO partners, specifically in the areas of community organization, savings & credit management, natural resources management especially watershed development, basic project administration and accounts & financial management are offered.
This has led to its establishment as a leading Non Governmental Development Organization (NGDO) in South India. Primarily the organization has been able to establish a good standing with the Government, Donor Organizations, NGOs and other institutions working not only in the 3 Southern States but also in other parts of India.
Initially funding was mainly from foreign agencies like GAA, SDC, FF, SKIP, SCIAF, RGF, KFO, MISEREOR and MOVIMONDO. But in the recent years, it is from Indian agencies like NABARD,Karnataka Forest Department, Watershed Development Department , Department of Rural Development, Deshpande Foundation, Arghyam and ICAR. Activities also were re-prioritized from training to implementation of programmes