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Changing Perceptions and building climate change resilient agricultural systems

Context and background of project area – 

In Lundra and Batauli blocks of Sarguja district, Chaupal a Civil Society Organisations has been involved with the community members since October 2018 under High Impact Mega watershed project. The main objectives of this project are reducing at least 50% of run off rainwater, reducing soil erosion and doubling the income of the farmers. Both Lundra and Batauli blocks come under Schedule Areas under article 244(1) of the constitution of India, due to preponderance of tribal population in the area and prevailing economic backwardness. As other villages in Central India, here also the main source of livelihoods is agriculture and labour work in farm-based livelihoods. Erratic, untimely and continually decreasing rainfalls are one of the major reasons for famers to worry. Though a lot of schemes are being run by government to make agriculture sustainable and ensure assured irrigation for all, but they have not been successful due to lack of coordination between PRI representatives, community members and administration. It is important to note that without coordination between these stakeholders an integrated plan will not be prepared and thus it will not be sustainable in the long run. 

Key Interventions – 

When the project was initiated in Sarguja, it was decided that planning will be done by involvement of all-important stakeholders and women participation will be ensured.  Panchayati Raj Representatives were also motivated and included in the entire process. Due to the effective leadership provided by BRLF and PRADAN, the work was done with proper strategy formulation and capacity building of PRI members and MGNREGA functionaries was done. Results of these initiatives have already started coming in and visible in the plans that emerged for MGNREGA works for the next few years.

Process of planning and role of PRI members-

The first step was briefing Sarpanch and other PRI members about the project and the vision of creating water sufficient villages through INRM work. During these discussions, a lot of problems came up such as problems of drinking water and fallow lands which can’t be cultivated due to lack of water. Many group discussions were done with the vulnerable groups in the village to understand the root causes of these problems and a baseline survey was also done in the project villages 

Training and Capacity building as a base for planning –  

Extensive and regular trainings were given to PRI members, SHG members, MGNREGA Gram Rozgar Sahayaks and technical assistants on following 

  1. Integrated Natural Resource Management and its correlation to MGNREGA 
  2. Basic watershed principles and envisaged impact 
  • In totality, 571 PRI members were given training in 29 Gram Panchayats 
  • In an intensive block, Lundra 585 women members were given training 
  • In both intensive block Lundra and Non Intensive block Bataul , 70 Rozgar Sahayaks attended the trainings

All these are crucial in planning process and their involvement ensured that none of the vulnerable sections are left out. The slope of the land and proposed land used were considered to plan for individual and community plans. After a series of meetings planning was completed and Gram Panchayat wise Detailed Project Report was prepared and submitted for approval in Gram Sabha. 

Outcomes –

One of the visible impacts of this is the rate of sanctioning of work and completion of work in the project areas. As MGNREGA staff and PRI members were involved they understand the importance of the proposed structures in DPRs and are giving priority to them while sanctioning. In Gram Panchayat, Chiranga no pond was created till now under MGNREGA, but recently 2 farm ponds have been completed in land of members belonging to hilly Korwa tribes. This planning process has also led to creation of a synergy and trust between Chaupal, community members, PRI representatives and administration which will be greatly beneficial in the long run. Initially farmers considered construction of water conservation structures as a wastage of cultivable land but through regular dialogues this has changed and now, they are thinking about increasing productivity by creating water harvesting structures.  

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