WOTR started working in the tribal dominated district of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh with the objective of strengthening the livelihoods through better management of rainwater. Agriculture is the main source of livelihoods for tribal communities in Mandla. Forest produce and cattle rearing are other two sources of earning for the tribes, mostly Gonds, in the district. Till 2007-08 the status of agriculture was not good and people were able to take only one crop that is, Kharif Crop in a year and if the rains were not good then they had no other option but to migrate to Jabalpur, Nagpur, Raipur and other nearby cities in search of livelihoods.
WOTR realized that supporting tribes means helping them in improving their agriculture in a better way and irrigation is the key for improvement. The project started in January 2009 and went on till December 2011.The technical team formed for better irrigation facilities studied geography of the area and possibility of working on developing sustainable model of watershed with community ownership. With their previous experience they realized that ownership will come only if the community is able to contribute and manage the project right from the beginning.
WOTR selected three villages for intervention one in Bijadandi block and two in Narayanganj block of the Mandla district. The strategy was to start the work on watershed development with community involvement in all activities that are planning, execution, review and management.
(i) The initial idea was shared with community and the concept was finalized incorporating the feedback of the community;
(ii) The organization finalized the design of the watershed and shared the short term and long term benefits with the community;
(iii) Lastly the organization proposed that it will work on the proposed project if the community takes the responsibility of starting the work on their owns meaning labour contribution with technical support from WATOR team;
The intervention included Human Resource Development; Soil and Water Conservation Activities; Drainage Line Treatment; Rejuvenation of Well and Irrigation Systems; and Agriculture Interventions.
Benefits to the community includes Wage Employment to the villagers; increase in water table and increase in irrigation; increase in crop production and ability to harvest second crop; income generation activities; doubled Wage rate; increase in forest coverage; and availability of fodder.
a. Farmers: Migration has stopped, production and productivity has improved;
b. Women: who can now find work in village itself and are able to improve their earning and dependency on traditional money lenders has also reduced;
c. Landless Families: Wage opportunity within village has improved;
Elements of Sustainability
The project implemented by WOTR has made a very good beginning in developing a model of watershed with ensuring community contribution in reality. The project started with dialogue with community, communicated the vision of project to community and started with community contribution. Investment from the project started at least 4 months later when community has contributed the labour worth 4 lakhs in each village. This shows the kind of efforts put in to mobilize community and making things transparent between community and the project team. The approach adopted by the project itself is a model of learning for similar initiatives going on in the country.
Ability to Replicate:
Project is replicable in other areas for its efforts to mobilise community for participation in discussion, contribution in the project cost and taking the responsibility of management.