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During the CBP, the main guiding principle

was to allow a positive bias in favor of disadvantaged groups and degraded areas. “Since this phase is basically meant to prepare the community for the implementation of the full project, we accord approval under the consideration of social desirability. Risk management and mitigation strategies have also been adopted,” says Mr. Rao.

 

He adds: “The very first step of project management is identification of the site of the project.

This is very crucial as there was a need to assess the site from two angles—one biophysical, and the other social. The Indo-German Watershed Development Program has defined detailed guidelines and criteria for selecting the watershed area. Following the rigorous selection mechanism, our selection rate is 1:2 which means we filter the unfit areas in the first stage itself.”

 

Implementing change
The program management unit set up to ensure effective implementation of the efforts, has been working toward achieving a host of objectives. These range from helping to sustain the income of farmers owning arable land, to aiding initiatives that would provide at least 90 percent of the participating villages access to drinking water during the entire year, provided the climatic situation did not further destabilize the water balance. The objectives also aim to ensure that the income from livestock rises by 70 percent compared to the pre-program days.

 

The program, now in its third year, is on the threshold of the full implementation phase. By December 2016, when the efforts come to a fruitful close, the benefits expected range from stabilization of agricultural production and improvement of pasture lands, to establishment of a sustainable maintenance system.

 

Income from livestock has gone up by 70 percent compared to the pre-program days, and at least 90 percent of the participating villages have access to drinking water during the entire year. Mean yield of rain-fed maize in the projects

selected for the baseline survey has remained stable, and livelihood interventions have been effective among all segments of the population falling in the really disadvantaged categories: the poorest of the poor, physically challenged, and widows.

 

Taking change to rural folk
Says Mr. Rao, “We have been able to prepare the community (for the project) by arranging for them a series of training programs, awareness programs and exposure visits. As many as 204 such programs have been undertaken during 2009-10. We have created technical bandwidth in the community by creating para-engineers from among them. Various cultural programs conveying the message of watershed and tree protection and plantation, and rainwater conservation are motivating the community to function and contribute as a group, to perform a series of identified tasks for the conservation, utilization and management of their natural resources to derive the benefits in a rational manner.”

 

He adds: “There is a need to maintain the equilibrium between elements of the natural eco-system or vegetation, land, and water on the one hand, and human activities on the other hand. Watershed, as a hydro-geological unit, is the best mechanism to address issues simultaneously and in a sustainable manner.”

 

The efforts currently undertaken in the south-eastern districts of Rajasthan stand testimony to this.

 

 


 
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