Position – Regional Manager
Opening – 1
Last Date: July 30, 2018
Action for Food Production (AFPRO) is an Indian socio-technical non-governmental organization of national importance working for the development of the rural poor through effective natural resource management solutions. Continue reading
Contributing to development of land and water resources: Devpimpalgaon watershed, Maharashtra
Acknowledging that groundwater development needs to be supported simultaneously by water conservation measures and that rapid expansion of groundwater would compromise resource sustainability, a unique project was formulated in the late 1970’s with the support from the Swiss Technical Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland. Popularly known as the ‘Integrated Land and Water Use Project at Devpimpalgaon’, the initiation of the project is traced to the successful impact of a percolation tank constructed in Devpimpalgaon, a drought prone area in the Deccan Plateau (Maharashtra) and observed improvements in groundwater levels in wells located downstream. Subsequent additions to the project included regeneration of the environment through micro watershed management, soil and water conservation measures, water harvesting and afforestation. Implemented with the support of our partner, documented physical impacts include storages of 0.5 million cubic meters through water harvesting; 64 acres under irrigation; sprinkler irrigation in 32 acres; 8,00,000 tree under community forest on 200 acres; electrification with energization of 20 wells; multi purpose community center; dryland agriculture center established on 14 acres for demonstration of dry farming techniques, demonstration of improved varieties of cattle and small ruminants.
Our experience of working in Devpimpalgaon gradually evolved into what is now commonly known as watershed programmes. The project offered an integrated approach to the management of land and water resources with environmental, social and economic impacts. However, despite the adoption of this approach by over 500 villages, sharing of experiences amongst the government agencies and the non-government sector and it being one of the flagship activities of the partnership, sustenance of interventions and stiff external triggers continue to be challenges faced.
Integrated development of livelihoods (natural resource management), Maharashtra
The Vidharbha region of Maharashtra, distributed across 11 districts (Yavatmal, Akola, Amravati, Wardha, Buldhana, Washim, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gadchiroli and Gondia), is known to face severe agrarian distress. ‘Convergence of Agricultural Interventions in the distressed districts of Maharashtra’ (CAIM) is collaboration between Government of Maharashtra (GoM), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT) to develop six of the most distressed districts of this region. As part of the programme, two rainfed clusters, distributed across 10 villages of Yavatmal district, received support from us. The approach recommended under this programme is an improvement in livelihoods through the management of natural resources and subsequent reductions in overall vulnerabilities.
Here components of integrated livelihoods were designed to alleviate rural communities. Creation of irrigation potential through rainwater harvesting, land management through multiple soil conservation measures, crop and nutrient management as part of agricultural extension and creation of enabling environments for better market linkages through collectivization were part of the practical solutions promoted under the programme. Human and institutional development were part of these interventions with capacities of three sets of institutions built at the village level – Village Development Councils (VDC), Self Help Groups (SHG) and Producer Groups. The project also paid special attention to creation of employment opportunities for women as well.
CAIM represents a unique model of convergence where Governments and national and international funding agencies have partnered with a non government organization, investing their resources and skills in developing a distressed region of the country. With one of the most vulnerable systems (rainfed areas) targeted under the programme, the impact has reached over 3000 farmers. While, environmental impacts include improvement in surface storage or harvested rainwater, enhanced soil moisture retention, improvement in the capability of land to support agriculture and allied activities and reduction in further degradation; economic impacts include an improvement in productivity and subsequent improvements in income.
Water Safety Planning, Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh
An estimated 37.7 million Indians are affected by waterborne diseases annually and 1.5 million children die of diarrhea, creating an immense need to provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Further, since drinking water infrastructure is poorly maintained, the availability of adequate drinking water is another challenge. With 79% of the 21 million in Chhattisgarh who reside in rural areas at risk, ‘Multi – District Assessment of Water Safety (M-DAWS) Project in Chhattisgarh’, ‘Water Quality Surveillance & Mitigation’ and ‘Capacity Building and Mitigation measures of drinking water hand pumps (HP)’ are three programmes specifically designed to address these issues. We work closely with the Government of Chhattisgarh through UNICEF and PHED to address drinking water and sanitation requirements in Konta, Sukma and Chhindgarh blocks, Dantewada district (presently Sukma district), Chhattisgarh.
Here we have successfully prepared and demonstrated Water Safety Plans (WSP). This includes sanitary surveillance of drinking water sources, design of simple and cost effective technical solutions ensuring access to ‘safe’ drinking water, awareness generation of village institutions and local communities (water user groups) on improved WASH practices and training of local youth on operation and maintenance (O&M) of drinking water infrastructure (hand pumps). Of special mention are training programmes on Menstruation Hygiene Management (MHM). The groups targeted on a priority basis include women, anganwadi workers and school children.
Our learnings from Dantewada district comprise of a renewed confidence in the effectiveness of Water Safety Planning (WSP) and Information Education and Communication (IEC) in addressing WASH challenges. Here, working with communities affected by political conflict and with a low priority for WASH was the main challenge. Despite this, an indication of its success is its growth in coverage and scope. With humble beginnings of working with 4 IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps, we are now working in IDP camps and 40 villages. Gram Panchayats too have come forward to pilot the Water Safety Plans, with Water User Groups making conscious efforts to ensure safe and hygienic conditions around all drinking water sources. Further, while trained cadres of hand pump technicians are repairing hand pumps; refresher trainings and continued institutional support are required for their effective functioning as potential extension arms to the PHED. A further reflection of encouragement is a continued partnership with UNICEF and requests for introduction of similar approaches in other districts by both the state and corporates such as State Groundwater Board (SGWB), Civil Society Organizations, Bharat Aluminum Company Limited (BALCO), ACC, BILT, LAFARGE etc.
Under the climate change regime, there is a growing concern among the global community to mitigate anthropogenic factors contributing to this change. Consumption of fuel for cooking is also identified as a contributor. With Biogas technologies increasing being acknowledged as a ‘Climate Change Mitigation’ measure, it is increasingly being viewed for its contribution in reduction of two main greenhouse gases – Carbon dioxide and methane. In addition to this it can save millions of tones of firewood burnt as fuel and also generate rural livelioods. We have pioneered the promotion & development of biogas technology in the country through a decade long programme titled ‘National Project on Biogas Development (NPBD)’. The programme is implemented with the support of Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Through a network of grassroot level NGO, over 97,000 biogas plants across the country have been constructed. The Deenbandhu Biogas Model designed by us is approved by the formerly Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources. Due to experiences from this project, we have been invited to train and monitor the implementation of biogas plants in Kenya.
Due the successful demonstration of the Deenbandhu Biogas technology in India, we were invited by atmosfair, a climate protection organization actively protecting the climate by compensating greenhouse gases through the use of renewable energies to demonstrate this technology in Kenya, Africa. Our biogas trainers trained technicians and masons in construction of these plants. During the project 40 masons we constructed under our supervision itself.
Successful demonstration of the Deenbandhu Biogas plant in Kenya
Geographically located within the tropical and sub tropical latitudes, India has an abundant potential to develop solar energy, a source renewable in nature. Supporting the southern part of the Aravalli Hills in Rajasthan with an improved access to electricity, AFPRO Udaipur has provided support for the implementation of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lighting System in Somawat, a tribal village in Kherwara tehsil of Udaipur district, Rajasthan. The project is being implemented by Rajpurohit Seva Sansthan, Udaipur. This action research project included the installation of household LED lamps with solar panels and charger-cum-control units. The primary benefit of the LED Lamp is foreseen in terms of relief for the womenfolk involved in household chores after nightfall, an aid for children school-going studying at night, and a sense of security for the elderly. With an initial target of 25 households and the effectiveness of the lamp obvious to everyone, the entire village comprising 451 households came forward to adopt the technology.
Groundwater development has rapidly expanded in the six decades since independence meeting the drinking and irrigation requirements, especially of the rural population. However, the hydro-geological conditions which favor the development of groundwater are complex and understanding the intricacies involved can assist in scientific and sustainable development of groundwater. Supporting the scientific development of groundwater, a study titled ‘Geohydrological Investigation in Nyoil river basin, Tamil Nadu’ was commissioned by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1971. We were invited to contribute to this study in 3550 sq km of the Nyoil river basin. A collaboration, support and guidance from the Central and State Groundwater Boards were also received under the project. Key components of the study included mapping of local geological and hydro geological conditions, electrical resistivity surveys, geophysical well logging, and short duration pumping tests, water level fluctuations and water sample analysis. Findings from the systematic and scientific survey of the basin have served as inputs and support to local drilling programmes.
The vision of the National Food Security Act is governed by the objective to ensure that every individual has access to predefined minimum quantities of food required for a health living. While, the act adopts the approach of provision of food grains at subsidized rates to priority households, alternate approaches to food security have been explored under a programme titled ‘Empowering 2000 women and adolescent girls through homestead cultivation in Rapar block of Kutch District’; ‘Self reliant and sustainable development of women and children in rural areas and Training farmers in advanced farming techniques’ and ‘Addressing Household level Food Security issue through Homestead Cultivation and Capacity Building of the tribal community in district Yavatmal of Maharashtra’. The project is supported by United Way – Mumbai and is implemented across three states – Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh (presently Telengana). Here, the potential of homestead gardens in improving nutritional intake and livelihoods of targeted poor and marginal communities, especially women has been explored with vegetable cultivation actively encouraged. Behavioral change of communities on sanitation, health, hygiene and nutritional diets, especially maternal & child health have been unique components of the programme. The target groups specifically targeted include women, pregnant women, children and adolescents.
Homestead gardens are found effective methods to address household level food and nutritional security. Due to their proximity to households, they can be promoted as a channel for improved nutritional intake and livelihoods in poor and marginal communities. With the impact of the project documented in terms of an improvement in production of crops and vegetables, improvements in general health and hygiene of target groups, several of the 6000 beneficiaries have also crossed over from subsistence farming to marketing of surplus produce, expanding the scope of these gardens to include an opportunity for income generation.
Common Lands, conventionally classified as wastelands, are historically neglected classes of land due to their limited capabilities to generate revenue. In the recent past encroachments and unscientific development of these lands has led to government regulation and regularization of encroachments. While, the economic contribution of these lands is limited, there are multiple environmental benefits that these lands provide. Therefore, even while diversion of common property and its regularization continues to be a subject of dialogue, an innovative approach to scientifically develop these lands while ensuring that livelihoods are strengthened and environmental benefits are enhanced was demonstrated under the SDC AFPRO Innovations and Learning Program. Titled “Improving Livelihood Conditions of Dalit Communities through Development of Common Lands”, the project was implemented in two villages Borkhed and Mangwadgaon in Maharashtra and was aimed at assisting marginal communities (landless dalit and backward communities) in improving their livelihoods. The unique approach demonstrated under this project is the development of land and water resource with financial support in the form of a revolving fund. While, improvement in the ownership of land and water development measures was the primary factor determining the adoption of this approach, key components demonstrated included establishment of systems with regard to loan distribution and repayment and structured trainings of village institutions on operation of these systems. Determination of priority fund utilizations too formed a part of the project and included treatment of lands with soil and water conservation measures, demonstration of sustainable agricultural practices etc.
The impact of the project has been documented by an independent assessment focused on assessing the viability of the social and economic strategies demonstrated under the project and their potential in being replicated as models. While, reduction in soil erosion and improvement in productivity of land resources due to activities like bunding, diversion drain, farm ponds etc; and high repayments of loans by beneficiaries and positive impacts of the project, continued adoption of the revolving fund over longer periods of time has been limited.
Contributing to development of land and water resources: Sunerarwadi watershed, Maharashtra
As per the National Rainfed Authority of India (NRAA), rainfed areas account for 55% of the total geographical area. In the state of Maharashtra, these regions occupy greater predominance with over 80% of the geographical area categorized as rainfed. The XII Five Year Plan of the Planning Commission emphasizes the growing role of rainfed areas in the agricultural sectors contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Partnering with National Bank for Agricultural Development (NABARD), we developed 1250 ha distributed across three villages in Surnarwadi watershed, a watershed adopted under the Indo German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) in Dharur block, Beed district, Maharashtra. Here, the application of fundamental principles defining watershed programmes are demonstrated with wastelands treated with soil and water conservation measures. In addition to pastureland management demonstrated in this watershed, productivity and livelihoods enhancement components demonstrated include promotion of agriculture and allied activities, especially demonstration of dryland horticulture and livestock. The central institutions strengthened are Village Watershed Committees (VWC) with active participation of local communities.
Our experience of developing watersheds has found that the approaches encouraged bring with it environmental, social and economic benefits. Not only are livelihoods of rural communities residing in these areas strengthened, but also sustainable natural resource management practices are encouraged. The impact of the programme is documented in an improvement in groundwater recharge, an increase in irrigation potential, increase in cropped area, increase in cropping intensity, decrease in soil erosion, gradual improvement in capability of land and improvement in income generation. Other watersheds currently under our implementation include two watersheds located in Kalamb and Washi blocks, Osmanabad district. These watersheds have a combined area of 9762 ha and the preparation of Livelihood Action Plan (LAP) is one of the unique and new components supported under this programme.