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A unique story of rural empowerment through an effort buttressed by the principles of project management is fast unfolding in the interiors of Rajasthan.

 

The effort, an Indo-German venture, is aimed at improving the livelihood of the rural poor, and rehabilitating the highly degraded natural production base. The purpose of the Programme is to stabilize agricultural and livestock production in about 35-40 watersheds with a total of approximately 40,000 hectares (1,000 hectares per watershed).

 

A part of the effort is a major initiative that banks heavily on project management principles. Districts such as Udaipur, Dungarpur, Banswara, Chittorgarh and Pratapgarh in the south-eastern regions of the state are starting to reap the benefits.

The Indo-German Watershed Development Program (IGWDP) was initiated in the early 1990s in Maharashtra, with the aim of creating model micro-watersheds through the participation of villagers in the comprehensive treatment of land for supporting the production system on a sustainable basis. It was extended to Rajasthan during 2007-08.

 

Multiple stakeholders Stakeholders range from the watershed community, village watershed committee, self-help group (SHG), gram panchayat (village council), public representatives, agricultural university/research & training institution, partner non-government organization (NGO), National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD), and KfW Bankengruppe. Of course, the state government and the union administration are also involved.

 

The program has been initiated at a cost of approximately €12.24 million. Of this, the financial contribution is around €11 million, and the beneficiaries’ contribution is around €1.24 million. “The project is in its third year, and we are on the threshold of the full implementation phase. At the end of the program in December 2016, the stabilization of agricultural production, the improvement of pasture lands as well as the establishment of a sustainable maintenance system would broadly be in place,” says K. Muralidhara Rao, chief general manager, NABARD regional office, Jaipur.

 

Kicking off change
Project management processes have been adhered to at every stage of the project, and in every aspect: starting from identification of watersheds and submission of watershed data sheets and NGO data sheets to the program management unit (PMU), to field visits by PMU members and hydro-geologists, meeting with the village community, watershed assessment and data collection.

 

The mandatory shramdaan (voluntary labour) per day by one member of each family took care of work relating to soil and water conservation and of common utility. During the initiation of the project, around 60 leaders visited each of the nearby watershed lands for surveys. Preparation of the capacity building phase (CBP) proposal for about 10 per cent of area (80 to 120 hectares) followed.

 

All details relating to the efforts were submitted to the PMU. The program plan was revised at necessary points, to broadly ensure technical feasibility and financial viability. Further to granting sanction letters to the NGO involved, gram-sabhas (village committees) were organized, and a Village Watershed Committee (VWC) formed.

After formalities relating to these were completed, the first installment funding 50 percent of the work was released by NABARD.


The CBP areas identified then received shramdaan, amounting to 20 per cent of the work in private lands and maintenance of the drainage line, and 16 per cent of the work in the case of community land.

 

The success of the program can be gauged from the fact that the project implementation is progressing as per the net plan and 60 percent of the released funds have been utilized in four years’ time.

 

Process management for the disadvantaged
The entire process has been elaborate, involving stakeholders’ analysis, SWOT analysis, scheduling of events, identifi- cation of projects, resource inventory, socio-economic survey, participatory rural appraisal (PRA), logical framework approach, agency selection, project appraisal, social cost-benefit analysis, monitoring, mid-term appraisal, biennial evaluation by KfW, and the like.

 


 
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