International keynote and new sponsor onboard

ChangeJam16 is on track to be a great event with an exciting line up of speakers and presentations. This week we are honoured to announce our international keynote, Dr Joe Madiath, and silver sponsor, Hood Sweeney.

Dr Joe Madiath, Founder and Honourable Chairman, Gram Vikas [International Keynote]


Dr Joe Madiath has spent 30 years working in development among the poorest communities in Orissa, India. Drawn there in 1971 to help communities that had been ravaged by a cyclone, Joe stayed on as an activist focused on sustainable development projects. He founded Gram Vikas in 1979 and has served as executive director ever since, growing Gram Vikas into one of the largest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Orissa. Gram Vikas originally focused on providing renewable energy for rural communities, building more than 54,000 biogas units; today the organization reaches out to about 36,000 indigenous and poor families living in 560 rural habitations in India.

Based on Joe’s conviction that every family in a village must have healthy living practices and an improved quality of life before total development can occur, Gram Vikas employs a  holistic model of change and development.  This model has transformed at least 289 villages and has successfully proven that the rural poor can and will pay for better sanitation and water facilities.

Some of the pioneering efforts of Gram Vikas have been in biogas promotion, community forestry, rural habitat development and education. Gram Vikas’ current approach to convergent community action with water and sanitation as the entry point is evolving into a movement influencing local democratic self-governance and poor people’s control over development processes.

Joe Madiath is a founder of the Voluntary Association Network of India and the Orissa Development Action Forum. He currently serves on the Governing Board of several institutions including Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technologies (CAPART), Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and BASIX. He has been part of various consultative committees of the central and state governments.

Gram Vikas and Joe Madiath have received several national and international awards in recognition of their work, including the Allan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award for 1995-96 from Brown University, USA; the Dr. K.S. Rao Memorial National Award, 1998 for outstanding Lifetime contribution to the development of new and renewable sources of energy from the Solar Energy Society of India. Gram Vikas’ ‘total habitat development model’ has been awarded the Most Innovative Development Project Award, 2001 (by the Global Development Network), the World Habitat Award, 2003 (by the Building and Social Housing Foundation, UK), Tech Museum Laureate in Economic Development (by the Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, California), Kyoto World Water Grand Prize, 2006 at the 4th World Water Forum (by the Kyoto Municipality and the Soroptimist International) and Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurs 2006 by Skoll Foundation, California. Gram Vikas is also one of the winners in the Ashoka Changemakers competitions in 2006 – “Health for All” and “How to provide Affordable Housing for all”.

Joe Madiath is part of the group of Outstanding Social entrepreneurs selected by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Geneva and Skoll Foundation, USA. In 2005, he was awarded the Social Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution in improving the plight of the rural masses, from The Godfrey Phillips Red & White Bravery Awards. In July 2006, Joe Madiath was also awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree (Honoris Causa) by the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College, Chennai.

More about Joe visit LinkedIn and the Gram Vikas website.

TED TALK: Better toilets, better life


Events like ChangeJam16 don’t happen without the generous support of our sponsors. Thank you to Hood Sweeney who are again supporting ChangeConnect with this initiative..

Hood Sweeney Logo



Date: 4 May 2016

Time: 8.15 registration; conference 9.00am – 4.30pm; followed by post conference networking drinks

Venue: Adelaide Convention Centre

Tickets: on sale at Eventbrite, $350 early bird, $400 standard (+booking fee)

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