Bharathi Integrated Rural Development Society (BIRDS) came into existence in the year 1991, with the initiative of its Executive Director who has been working with poorest of the poor, since 1985. BIRDS is registered under the Societies Registration Act 21 of 1860, in the year 1991. Its registration number is 262/91, dated 28.11.1991. It is also registered under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976, on 16 May 1994. BIRDS have income tax exemption under Sections 12 A and 80 G. BIRDS worked with meager funds raised mainly from personal savings and small donations till 1994. It started with an annual budget of Rs. 40,000/- and could gradually rise to the present status. From working with the support of small donations, BIRDS has now reached a stage of multiple donors funding. Right now BIRDS runs projects supported by about 10 donors (7 international and 3 governmental), with a total annual budget of USD 1.2 million (66.3 million Indian Rupees).
The Executive Director of BIRDS has won accolades for the work of the organization at several levels. He has received Dalit Sahitya Academy Award in the year 1995, from his Excellency the President of India, for exceptional work in promotion of Adult Literacy. BIRDS have won five annual commendation awards (1995, 97, 98, 2000 and 2002) from the District Collector, for carrying out exceptional work in the rural development sector. In micro-finance sector, BIRDS is one of the leading agencies in the world (among top 50) as announced at the Micro-credit Summit, USA. At the international level, BIRDS has linkages with International Federation of Organic Movement (IOFAM), Micro-credit Summit, United Nations Council for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and International Council of Environmental Movement (ICEM). With IOFAM, BIRDS is one of the active member NGOs with an aim to bring the movement of organic agriculture to the farmers in the world. As member-practitioner of micro-credit Summit, BIRDS aims to improve the standard of living of the poorest of the poor through providing credit facilities. As an active participant of micro-credit division of UNCTAD, BIRDS thrives to exchange the ideas and establishing the linkages among the micro-credit institutions around the globe. As member of Environmental Liaison Center International (ELCI), BIRDS has the mandate to work on environmental issues (one of which is groundwater depletion in arid and semi-arid areas) through global networking and sharing of experience around the globe. Bilateral assistance program, referred to as APWELL Project, BIRDS has provided community bore well irrigation to small and marginal farmers, wherever feasible, to bring back the fallows under irrigation and food crop production. With this both the land owners and landless benefited and migration is minimized. BIRDS is presently involved in implementation of another major program, Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems (APFAMGS) Project, another Dutch funded project, implemented through Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). APFMAGS is a Nationally Executed Project (NEX) of FAO is quite popular at global level for its innovative approach towards groundwater management. APFAMGS Project has been nominated for the Japan World Water Prize in the World Water Forum at Mexico, in the year 2004. BIRDS and its Partner NGOs employ professionals from different academic backgrounds viz., hydrology, geology, engineering, sociology and social work. These professionals are further strengthened by a pool of well-reputed scientists and social workers at the state level in the form of Technical Support Team (TST). BIRDS has provided technical assistance to the Government of Orissa, a neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh, in drawing a project for implementation an integrated water resource management. A prestigious assignment carried out by BIRDS senior consultants in the year is funded by FNPP-Bhutan. It involved preparation of a strategic plan for Royal Government of Bhutan to take up an integrated river basin management program for Wang River. BIRDS also conducted a study for FAO on land degradation and poverty. BIRDS imparted training to international participant from 14 countries on “Demand Side Management of Groundwater”, apart from training officers of Groundwater Departments of three state governments’ viz., Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.