Mumbai

Water changes lives in districts of Rajasthan, Gujarat

Covering all bases: Watershed development activity under the project has resulted in wells being recharged in parts of Dahod district.

Covering all bases: Watershed development activity under the project has resulted in wells being recharged in parts of Dahod district.  

NGO, Axis Bank Foundation improve livelihoods in rural households by providing water, setting up community institutions

Khatubhai Panada owns two gunthas of land (one guntha is 10 m) in Magarda Khatelasa village of Rajasthan’s Banswara district. The soil pattern in this village does not make agriculture easy, and like many other farmers, Mr. Panada works in the city as a labourer to eke out a living.

Till this year, that is. His chilli crop has already earned Mr. Panada ₹55,000, and in the Rabi season, he expects his tomatoes to yield ₹35,000. “I am happy that I need not leave my village to earn money. I get my seedlings from the nursery established in the village. I sell my crop and I can send my kids to a better school too,” said Mr. Panada.

The village is a part of the first phase of a project on improving livelihoods in rural households by improving availability of water and setting up community institutions. The project is undertaken by N.M. Sadguru Water and Development Foundation in Dahod and is supported by Axis Bank Foundation (ABF). The first phase includes 270 villages of Jhalawar, Banswara and Dungarpur districts in Rajasthan and 421 villages of Dahod, Mahisagar and Panchmahal of Gujarat. The population primarily comprises Scheduled Tribes, who own merely two acres of undulating, hilly land per household.

With the four-year-long first phase ending in 2018, a third party audit has given encouraging results. “As per the pre-intervention survey, only 3.44% population was in the income range of ₹84,000 to ₹1 lakh. The post-intervention data shows that the number has increased to 61.76%,” said Kanhaiya Choudhary, CEO of N.M. Sadguru foundation. The non-governmental organisation was established in 1974 by Harnath Jagawat and Shrmishtha Jagawat, and works in the area of natural resource management. Phase 2 of the project will continue till 2023.

The project has also introduced initiatives for crop productivity enhancement, seed production, vegetable cultivation, horticulture, floriculture and dairy development.

The project has also introduced initiatives for crop productivity enhancement, seed production, vegetable cultivation, horticulture, floriculture and dairy development.  

The initiatives introduced under the project are water resource development, crop productivity enhancement and seed production, vegetable cultivation, horticulture, floriculture and dairy development.

Deepsingh Bharatsingh Parmar is a floriculturist in Dahod’s Kamboi, known as the village of flowers. “It is hilly terrain. We levelled it, dug tubewells after building water structures on the river and turned the area suitable for production of rose, marigold and chrysanthemum,” he said. Mr. Choudhary said the farmers who were earning negligible incomes and chose migration are now deciding on what crops to grow, selling them on their own and investing the money in supportive businesses like dairy.

“Social institutions are the foundation of the programme as most project activities are launched and sustained through them. It not only empowers farmers to raise and resolve their issues, but it also transforms the lives of women by providing them financial autonomy and social mobility,” said Jacob Ninan, executive trustee and CEO of ABF.

Hiraben is a member of the Water User Group under the lift irrigation scheme on Hiren river at Bajwa Amba village in Rajasthan’s Banswara district. She has started a nursery under the project to make available seedlings of tomato, brinjal, ladies finger and cauliflower. “I provide seeds to farmers in my village or even to outsiders. I earn money and have learned to deposit it too. I enjoy helping my family,” she said.

(Disclaimer: The visit to study the project was arranged by Axis Bank Foundation)

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 6:29:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/water-changes-lives-in-districts-of-rajasthan-gujarat/article29808892.ece

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