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Final report livelihood_security_through_biodiversity
For more details visit: http://www.ashwagandha.tk Initiatives for sustainable livelihood by Women’s federation in Dahod, District of GujaratThe project has extended to about 40 villages but active participation was from about 24 villages (ashighlighted in 1a.) during the course of implementation.a. Participants/Beneficiaries Number of females: 1126 Number of males:428These are number of people who have directly participated in the project i.e. those leaders and people whohave undergone training, taken up demonstrations, have taken responsibilities of implementation andevaluation. However, the impact is much larger i.e. in the overall work area of about 40 villages andamongst 3500 membership of the women’s federation and covers the population of the 24 villages which areactive. On the whole, the impact outreach is as follows: Table 3: Impact outreach of villages actively involved No. Cluster Name of village Male Female Total 1 Pipero Pipero 1581 1547 3128 2 Koutambi 461 446 907 3 Rampur 1001 994 1995 4 Lukhadiya 452 397 849 5 Kundavada 529 501 1030 6 Modhva 1419 1333 2752 7 Kanakuva 195 163 358 8 Navanagar 2138 2115 4253 9 Jhabu 1116 1093 2209 10 Rai 2306 2343 4649 11 Bar 1199 1201 2400 12 Sangaasar 211 216 427 13 Ambli 868 921 1789 14 Raiyyavan 737 747 1484 15 Rachhava 765 739 1504 16 Dudhamli Bhorva 2598 2480 5078 17 Undaar 1386 1334 2720 18 Dudhamli 863 830 1693 19 Pav 1705 1647 3352 20 Umariya 425 433 858 21 Nakti 1391 1433 2824 22 Agasvani 1999 1895 3894 23 Chorbariya 601 608 1209 24 Pipodra 1535 1475 3010 27481 26891 54372b. Capacity Building/Training Number of females: 208 Number of males: 73d. Results1 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
Achievement of objectives: The broad objective of the project was to increase livelihood securities of women in the forest-agriculture interface by creating women owned and managed productive assets for increase in their income and creating support mechanisms for drudgery reduction and enhanced productivity by taking account of the women’s livelihood strategies in the field. The strategy adopted to achieve this was through the medium of building individual and collective leadership and skills of women’s federation. The objectives have been fully accomplished under the project by the strengthening of women’s leadership and by establishing livelihood banks viz., Seed, fodder and fuel on a sustainable basis. The entire resource base and its enhancement is vested with the women’s leadership in the region. However there is scope and need to scale up these initiatives to reach out to each family in the region make these efforts more sustainable and broad base its strategies, methodologies and experiences. The approach and structure under the project could cater to fewer families and not to the entire region since it was more focused and was a demonstrative base to see how things can be worked out. Similarly though there is vast pool of knowledge available with women on herbal medicine and traditional health care practices, not too much could be achieved under this project due to time and resource constraint. There is a need to strengthen this forest-health interface that has strong linkages with biodiversity conservation-both forest and agri-biodiversity conservation. Immediate benefits: Leadership and skill building: Collective leadership and skill building of 208 women and 73 men leaders on various aspects which spearheaded the work within the project. 3 biodiversity working groups are formed to take leadership in managing assets toward food security. The working groups formed to manage these banks and the federation leadership is thoroughly trained on biodiversity and food security interface so that interventions in post project scenario can be sustained on the basis of value based governance.The following issues were covered during trainings:- Accounts, record keeping and value-based governance- Cooperative Management- Bank linkages and procedures- Nursery management- Entrepreneurship development- Conflict resolution, transformation and management- Environmental Conservation, care of Medicinal plants and protecting community’s knowledge systems- Strengthening the institutional mechanism within the women’s federation- On farm technical trainingsDirect transfer of specific skills (which can be immediately put to use) on preparation of vermin compostand herbal pesticides, was done with 172 men and 69 women through on farm and demonstration trainings. Asset formation: 2 seed and 2 fodder banks have been set up in the 2 clusters from where fodder and seed can be accessed by those who do not have the purchasing power to access them for emergency times. All the 32848 bundles of fodder which were stocked were sold in June 2007. The following stock of seeds has been stocked:a. Black gram (Thuthiya urad): 850 kg.b. Wheat (Lokvan gehu):500 kgs.c. Wheat (Sharbati and tukdi gehu): 1500 kgs.d. Gram (Dahod Peela Channa): 2500 kgs.e. Maize (Saathi, kathori): 700 kgs.2 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
f. Maize (Saathi): 3700 kgs.g. Mag: 300 kgs.out of which some has been sold. The sale of seeds is currently going on for the winter crop. Access to fodder during rainy season: 133 women (and the families as a whole) from 18 villages of the 2 clusters were able to access fodder (Local varieties: bhathori, daangar) in close proximity of their home and at a reasonable price. A significant saving was made by these families since the only other option for accessing fodder in this season is from nearby Kheda district at Rs. 3 to 3.50 per bundle as opposed to Rs. 2.50 per bundle from the fodder bank. This excludes the transportation cost, which is very high, Kheda being pretty far. The total fodder accessed at a reasonable price by these families was 32848 bundles i.e. 82120 kgs. of fodder [collected through a voluntary contribution of 648 bundles of fodder (1620 kgs.) from 11 villages and purchase of 32200 bundles (80500 kgs.) to initiate the bank] with each family taking 200- 500 bundles. This fodder support reaches out to approximately 3284 cattle for one day of fodder needs (7-10 bundles per day). It is important to note that the actual requirement is much more than this during the rainy season. Access to traditional seeds: 76 families from 11 villages purchased- Black gram (Thuthiya urad): 100 kg.- Wheat (Lokvan gehu):132 kgs.- Gram (Dahod Peela Channa): 210 kgs.- Maize (Saathi, kathori): 380 kgs.The sale of the remaining seeds is currently on going.Table 4 below shows the prices at which these traditional seeds were available to the families incomparison to the similar and the hybrid seeds in the market. Table 4Seed Price of hybrid maize Price of traditional maize Price of traditional seeds in the market1 seeds in the market maize seeds in the Seed bankMaize (Kathori and, saathi) Rs.50/kg Rs. 15-20/kg2. Rs.13/kgBlack gram (Thuthiya urad) Rs.150/kg Rs. 35-38/kg. Rs. 30/kgGram (Dahod Peela Channa) Rs. 40/kg. Rs. 30/kg.3 (mix kala and Rs. 25/kg peela)Wheat (Sharbati and lokvan) Rs.28/kg Rs.15/kg. Rs.11/kgFrom the earlier demonstration of traditional maize using organic inputs on Kantaben’s plot in Bhorvavillage, a yield of 80 kgs. of maize from 5 kgs. of seed was produced. This yield was sold to women fromthe federation. Access to fuel wood needs and medicinal nurseriesOut of the first nursery demonstration in which 8000 saplings were planted, a large number were destroyedduring the monsoons. It was felt that to sustain such nurseries; a large number of saplings need to beplanted for viability. After this 3 nurseries with 30000 saplings were established to promote indigenousmedicinal plants. From discussions with women it emerged that traditional forest based herbs likeAshwagandha, Shattavari, Kaakass, Saragwa, Ambla which were used esp. in women’s health and asenergy-givers have lost use and are also not available. Women were well aware of the methods for the use ofthese herbs and decided to undertake medicinal herb promotion and protect forests for regeneration ofmedicinal herbs. For the first time herbal nurseries were established by communities in this region and the1 It was observed by the field teams that the hybrid seeds available at high prices in the market are in fact bought from local farmers,treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides and packed well as hybrid, productive seeds by big companies.2 Traditional maize seed available in the market is not separated according to variety and a mixed variety has to be purchased.3 In the market, mixed black and yellow gram is available3 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
varieties of herbs to be planted were identified by them. Following varieties of medicinal plants which werepreserved in the context of their erosion from the local biodiversity: Table 5Indian name English name Botanical nameAshwagandha, asagandha Winter cherry Withaniya SomniferaAamla, aavla Embelic myroblan Emblica officinalisKanski/Kakhi/Kankatika India country mallow Abutilon IndicumShatavari Wild asparagus Asparagus AdscendensSahijan/shega/sehanjana Drumstick Moringa oleferaSource: Ayurvedic Paak Visheshaank, Anand Agricultural University, GujaratThe immediate benefit was that through the strategy of identifying women with pressing fuel needs andhaving to spend a lot of time and energy in collection. 3 of these women took up these nurseries and inreturn for their labour in raising the same; they received an equivalent amount of fuel wood. Impact of Demonstrationsa. Production of Vermin compost40 plots were completed with 32 women from 9 villages and this has led to the production of 15000 kgs.(250-500 kgs. of vermin per plot) of vermin.b. Production of extinct food crop varietyKala mag, an extinct variety of seed was sown in 4 demonstration plots and 5 kgs. of seeds were sourcedat a slightly high price from an interior village, Boridrakhurd of Shehra block in Panchamahals districtsince it was not available in Dhanpur block. The produce will be available by the end of this year and thenbought into the bank.c. Production of local and less water intensive fodder cropsFodder varieties like Bhathori and Jinjwa have been sown in 65 demonstration plots. Change to organic cultivation patterns42 farmers (both men and women) from 8 villages shifted to organic cultivation and the organic cultivatedarea is approximately 25 acres. Ginger, vegetables, kala mag, maize, urad are the crops which have beenharvested by these farmers using 100 % organic farming inputs for almost one and half years. Linkagesfor these were made with the vermin composting demonstrations through the SGP and subsidies throughthe Tribal Sub Plan. Another 183 families have partially started using organic farming methods. Thesemay vary from a farmer having segregated a part of land where organic inputs are being used to anotherwho may be using a mix of chemical and organic methods on her/his entire plot of land. Following varieties of seed were preserved in the context of their erosion from local biodiversity Table 6 Variety Importance in local biodiversity Germination Germination period rateKala mag High nutrition pulse esp. during 7-8 days 80% pregnancy and as an energy booster.Maize (Saathi makai) The taste is sweeter than the hybrid 4-5 days 90%Maize (Kathori makai) variety, has high nutrititive value. The 3-5 days 90% seed is stronger and not hollow and is thus easier to store and sustain.Black gram (Thoothiya Well suited to the climatic conditions of 6-7 days 80-90%urad) the region and grows well. Suited toWheat (Lokvan, Sharbati dietary habits of the tribal population. 3-5 days 80-85%and tukdi gehu)4 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
Gram (Dahod Peela 5-6 days 80-90%Channa) Impact on other programmes of UtthanThe organisation has been working for a long time with its based in certain principles and values ofequality, gender justice, peace and freedom within the human rights framework. The activities andprocesses within this project provided a platform to sharpen our understanding of experiences ofcommunities in terms of these principles, workable strategies and their application and to learn from thecommunities. A useful learning from the entire process was the importance of time frame and a certainlevel of technical knowledge. Experience of having to extend the project for a year showed that initiatingbiodiversity practices and developing skills is a tedious process which is time consuming. Biodiversityrelated specialized knowledge within the team or sourced from outside helped to expedite the processesunder the project. Similarly, this being a demonstrative, pilot kind of a project required some changes asper developments. Instead of setting up a Fuel bank as an asset bank like the seed and fodder banks;efforts to fulfill the fuel needs were made by linking this up with medicinal plants. Women leadersexpressed that it would be strategic to concentrate on seed/fodder banks and then slowly move to take upfuel banking using the experiences of the other asset banks.e. New Developments, Unexpected difficulties/problems & Action taken to solve themImportant developments as a result of the project are as follows: Increased awareness and willingness of people to take up organic farmingThe approach of multinational companies and the linked government subsidy for tribals (esp. those underBPL) has led to the common pattern of farmers taking subsidised agricultural kits through these schemeswhich include hybrid seeds like Maize of Ganga1, Ganga 2 and Advanta varieties, chemical fertiliser andpesticides. Through discussions about the benefits of organic farming, traditional seeds, economicsavings, information from others adopting these methods, demonstrations has led to 42 farmers adoptingorganic farming. The initial discussions were done with women leaders who then took this informationhome. It was not easy for them to establish the benefits of organic farming and the approach to the samebut slowly this was possible. Older people readily accepted that the fertility of soil and health of peoplehad degraded due to the use of chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds. ‘Earlier we did not face so manyproblems and use so many inputs in agriculture’.Many farmers are coming forward to take up organic farming after the project through co-financing supportfrom GEF, Tribal Sub-Plan, and DRDA (RSVY). This process took a long time and now the plan is todeepen and broad base this understanding in the clusters and the region, through the community itself. Thesefarmers are fully convinced about the benefits of low input farming – a practice which they had beenfollowing for many years but had been influenced about high input farming in the post green revolutionscenario. The outcomes they feel are highly unsustainable. Women farmers shared that there is quantitativerise in fertilizer intake by the farms to sustain the yields. This otherwise implies that the cost of agriculturehas increased. However with the GEF project many families shifted to organic farming through vermincomposting. The input cost has considerably decreased. The following examples will show this:Black gram (Thoothiya urad)Land holding = 1 acreSowing time: 15 May- 15 JuneCrop period: 11-12 months Table 7 Chemical OrganicQuantity Input Rate Total Quantity Input Rate Total (Rs.) amount (Rs.) amount5 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
(Rs.) (Rs.)10 kgs. Seed 30/kg. 300 10 kgs. Seed 30/kg. 300100 kgs. DAP 12/kg. 1200 200 kgs. Vermin 2.50/kg. 500 compost500ml. Chemical 300/litre 150 1litre Herbal Nil 0 pesticides pesticides (from ingredients available around the home)Total cost 1650 Total cost 800 Table 8: Cost-benefit analysis for Black gram production Chemical OrganicTotal production 500-550 kgs. 350-400 kgs.Total returns 525 kgs. @ 20/kg. = 10500 375 kgs. @ 25/kg = 9375Net profit 8850 8575Ginger: Zingiber OfficinaleLand holding = 10 guntha = 0.10 hectareSowing time: 15 May- 15 JuneCrop period: 11-12 months Table 9 Chemical OrganicQty. Input Rate Total Qty. Input Rate Total (Rs.) amount (Rs.) amount (Rs.) (Rs.)120 kgs. Seed 35/kg. 4200 120 kgs. Seed (desi 30/kg 3600 Anguli gaanth aadu) aadu(hybrid)100 kgs. DAP 12/kg. 1200 200 kgs. Vermin 2.5/kg. 500 compost500ml. Chemical 300/litre 150 0 pesticides100 kgs. Castor seeds 5/kg. 500 100 kgs. Castor 5/kg. 500 seeds7 times Irrigation 200 1400 5 times Irrigation 200 1000Total 7450 5600cost ofproduction Table 10: Cost-benefit analysis for ginger production: Chemical OrganicTotal production 960 kgs. 720 kgs.Total returns 960 kgs. @ 15 = 14400 720 kgs. @ 20/kg = 14400Net profit 7000 8800The production using chemical pesticides is higher but the input cost using organic methods is lower. Thisoffsets the low production using organic inputs when the farmer is shifting from chemical to organic farmingpatterns. The resultant seed over time will fetch a god price in the market (over time the organic certification6 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
of the produce can be taken up). The other incidental fall in costs are related to prevention of soil infertility,reduction in health expenses, costs of irrigation which will be reduced due to increased moisture retention byuse of vermin. This sustainable farming will provide more nutritive food crop for self consumption offamilies too. The above examples clearly show that using organic inputs the net profit is higher/almostsimilar to that earned by using chemical inputs. The numerical calculations of course does not include thefinancial savings in terms of less expenditure on health, soil fertility improvement, saving on water etc.which goes to showcase the benefits of organic farming. Influencing commercial growers of fodder crops Since the beginning of 2006, discussions have been going on with some commercial fodder crop growers to raise local fodder varieties and use organic manure/vermin compost. These are people who have been protecting and improving fodder (Bhathori) which grows naturally on wastelands. These wastelands are technically encroached lands but the issue is not limited to this. Many of these are also people whose lands have been snatched over time in other ways; through changing laws, pressure/encroachments by Forest Department etc. and consequently been encroached upon by these people who are cultivating it without any clear titles. Linkages with these people has been in the form of convincing them to use - organic manure, castor, neem oil etc. to improve the quality of the fodder (which grows naturally) and sustain the land as well. They were ensured that the fodder bank would buy this fodder from them if such methods were adopted. The federation decided that the purchase from here will be made through monitoring and observation of the cultivation by the team and federation leaders. Currently, the growers in Jhabu, Kanakuva and Kaantu villages have used 100 % organic fertilizers which will over time improve the quality of the soil. They have purchased organic manure from the market and some available from home has been used. This is nearly 5 hectares of land under organic cultivation. This change took place after extended dialogue and building an understanding among these people who were in many ways associated with Utthan’s work. The readiness shown by the people was because this was benefit the local area itself. Motivated by the understanding for the need for nutritive fodder to improve milk production, 25 women of Bhorva village who have water facility have themselves grown Rajko and Bajri fodder varieties in about 0.125 - 0.25 acres of land. (These women have bought buffaloes through loans from SHGs and linkages with local dairies.) This fodder will thus supplement the total fodder requirement of these cattle. However, another aspect which was looked into was that this variety, although nutritive, is water intensive, and thus the plots were restricted to small areas. Influencing government: Efforts to influence government to reach out to marginalised people in times of need as per State policies and mobilise resources for vermin composting, medicinal nurseries and fruit raising were made. An important effort made by local leaders from Modhva village was to influence the local government to fulfill fodder requirements when there was an acute fodder shortage in June 2007 and it was not available from the places people usually buy from. Due to the large demand many people had approached the Fodder bank as well, but the stock had been exhausted here by June. Local groups approached the TDO but there was no response. When Utthan team members and federation leaders met the TDO after this, they were asked to contact the Mamlatdars under whose charge is the Government Fodder Depot. Contact was then made with the Mamlatdar in Limkheda and Dhanpur block but both said there was no order from the Collector to open the Depot and there was also no demand from people, in contrast to the stark ground realities which were coming from the villages. After speaking to the Collector, the order for release of fodder from the Depots had been passed. This entire process led to the opening of the Block level Fodder Depot and people were able to access fodder at an economical cost. The Federation prevailed upon the officials and ensured that it is disbursed at a reasonable rate.7 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
h. Lessons Learned: The rich diversity and sustainable systems of food production are being destroyed in the name of increasing food production over the years. Hybrid variety of maize though increased the yields, has impacted soil fertility in tribal areas. With the destruction of diversity, rich sources of nutrition disappear. Women mention that they were able to do harder work compared to their counterparts now. The food intake has also decreased. All this is a result of modernization of agriculture. When measured in terms of nutrition per acre, and from the perspective of biodiversity, the so-called "high yields" of industrial agriculture does not imply more production of food and nutrition. Only agri-biodiversity could reinstate the traditional nutrition rich farming and real food security to all. The so-called yields discussed by agriculturists usually refer to production per unit area of a single crop. However in traditional farming it is never a single crop. It is multiple crops in one small patch of land. Here output refers to the total production of diverse crops. Initially it was thought that monoculture is easy to manage, but later it was realized that such cropping is disastrous. Planting multiple crops in a mixture will have low yields of individual crops, but will have high total output of food. The yield calculation on the contrary by modern agriculture hides the production by millions of women farmers who depend on mixed cropping. From the biodiversity perspective, biodiversity based productivity is higher than monoculture productivity. This has been established by GEF project facilitated by Utthan. i. Additional Information: What were the principal impacts, lessons learnt from the project?- Major impact of the project is capacity building of more than 1126 women by the project and introduction of biologically sustainable farming practices- There could be significant decrease in greenhouse gasses (not directly measured) due to reduction in fertilizer application in project area.- Sustainable assets were created with the biodiversity-food security interface in tribal areas and women took the leadership to maintain the assets.- Women gained capacities to manage any productive asset in a much better way and can compete with conventional practices promoted by patriarchal societies. What were the principal deficiencies/ missing gaps in the project? A missing gap in the project was the component of mass awareness building which would have added to the acceptability and local replicability of initiatives. Women leaders while assessing the work done after the completion of one cycle of the biodiversity banks felt that not too many people are aware of the banks and the difference in the quality of fodder/seed stock. They identified the need to increase awareness about sustainable farming and the effort being made through this banking so that more and more people came to the bank to purchase seeds. This it was felt should be intensified in the next phase for which resources will have to be raised. It was also identified that when people buy seeds from the local traders they are able to buy other inputs like fertilizers and pesticides from there itself, so the federation could also think of marketing herbal pesticides/ vermin compost through the banks. It emerges clearly from this that the local leaders are able to identify the gaps and find solutions or ways to overcome the gaps. The plan to bank fuel to support needs of women staying far from the forests was conceived through helping women to raise herbal nurseries, the part labour cost of which was given in the form of fuel wood. The formation of fuel bank similar to the seed/fodder bank (which was initially conceived during the time proposal was submitted) will now be thought of from the experiences of the existing banks. 8 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
What are the products generated by the project: Some materials which have been generated during the project phase: 1. Biodiversity maps 2. Pamphlet on methods of preparing organic pesticides to control pests in rice and maize –in local language 3. Docudrama –capturing the essence of the project and the experiences of the communities. It is however not limited to a ‘project’ but briefly covers what the issue is and how leaders with support from the organisation took steps to solve their own issues. This is a documentation of the work and has been conceived as a training tool on the issue of livelihoods and biodiversity. Currently, the rough cut is ready and the editing and subtitling is in process. 4. Marketable goods: The support for purchase of seed, fodder has set the ball rolling and will keep revolving in each phase of the biodiversity banks. Assessment of impact of project in the focal area of ‘Biodiversity conservation’: The project explored and strengthened the interface between food security and biodiversity in tribal areas with respect to sustainable livelihoods. Environmental concerns cannot be attended in isolation and especially when it is so intrinsically linked to the livelihood security of the poor. The project has piloted for the first time to ensure food security of tribal women by addressing biodiversity issues in the region. As a result 225 families have shifted their farming practices from high input to biologically sustainable low input farming. The project has been able to increase the use/reintroduce 8 varieties of seed and 5 medicinal herbs which are eroding from the local biodiversity (as in Tables 5 and 6). At the same time an initiative has been mooted to shift from external controlled health services to more indigenous evolved health management through re-establishment of traditional healing practices. Through this pilot phase of 2-3 years, a cycle has been set rolling wherein local leaders are promoting, collecting and disseminating biologically sustainable varieties of seed and fodder at a reasonable rate. This has been facilitated by the impact achieved by capacity building of stakeholders. Press/ media coverage / links established in the project to other similar initiatives / networking with other NGOs Linkages have been established with other NGOs working on similar themes in Rajasthan and other parts of Gujarat. The exposure visits and exchange of ideas facilitated innovations and alternatives in existing livelihood approaches. The exchange with Sankalp, Rajasthan and K.M.V.S, Cohesion and Sahjeevan in Kutch helped women to pick up ideas to influence some of the asset management practices. Networking with required Government departments, panchayats and other NGOs have been done and there is a need to further strengthen it esp. for marketing linkages and for value addition support. Future plans to continue, expand, or replicate project activities: As mentioned earlier, the project activities have set the ball rolling by promoting sustainable farming patterns and asset management through the medium of community empowerment esp. that of women. The future plans include deepening of work and reaching out to more families within existing clusters and expansion to other clusters which could be successfully expanded by the approaches piloted under GEF project. Currently 24 villages divided into 2 clusters were actively involved in the project is extended. Biodiversity based sustainable livelihood alternative and food security is an issue in all the villages. Similarly all those families who could not be covered within the ambit of the project need to be covered for increasing awareness on biodiversity and sustainable farming for food security. The project has all the potential to replicate in other parts of central India.- Increased seed, fodder and fuel banks in many clusters so that they are accessible to more people 9 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
- Increased awareness on sustainable practices, biodiversity and linkages with health and food security amongst communities so that farming patterns see a perceptible change through awareness meetings, use of docudrama and innovative cultural tools- Need for demonstrating further sustainable fuel alternatives where by the communities could completely shift to renewable energy sources- Creation of a local area resource group trained on preparation of organic manure, pesticides, vermi composting- Linkages to improve incomes of marginalised groups through sustainable means. Efforts for improved marketing of medicinal plants, production of organic pesticides etc. by women’s groups/federation.There is need for process and market support to expand the benefits of traditional knowledge available with women on various health issues and its treatment.- Advocacy through increased networking with like minded groups on Forest Act, environment, public distribution system and intrusion of unsustainable farming patterns etc. Additional information if any in terms of awards and certificates of merit, etc: Khetiwadi Vikas Mandal, supported by Utthan in Ambli village of Dhanpur block of Dahod district received the Anil Shah Gram Sangathan Paritoshik award in 2006 for their work in forest protection and development, watershed development, women’s empowerment and organization. The sangathan could protect over 300 ha. of forest area through community participation. This work in Ambli has been supported by Utthan in its wider scope of work in the region. What advice would you give to other organizations designing similar projects? - It is women and small, marginal farmers working with biodiversity who are the primary food providers, contrary to the dominant assumption that industrial monocultures sustains world food requirement. Very few of the project families access the Public Distribution System for food grains. Their farming is now self sustaining. They go to their own ‘banks’ for any requirement. Their grain quality is much better than that of food grains available with Public Distribution System. The first cycle of Banks proved that communities are equipped to differentiate a poor grain of high yielding variety from a rich grain from traditional farming system. Women are also now aware that excess withdrawal of ground water eventually leads to drought and desertification pushing them to depend on un-sustainable migration. Shifting to sustainable farming is a better alternative, although slow. This could be possible by shifting from hybrids to traditional seed varieties. Women also evolved alternatives to improve productivity in traditional seed varieties as well as its market. A complete alternative market is in process of evolution. - Any project designed to bring change in local biodiversity system should involve people and evolve approaches that ensure livelihood security and yet adhere to the principles of biodiversity conservation. This is possible only by understanding the ideas and perspectives of the community at project evolution stage and giving voice to their ideas and evolving a consensual process. Building capacity of local women leaders and linking up with men was an important strategy and has worked well. Work on this issue was initiated in the context of eroding rights of tribals to access forest produce (used for fodder and fuel purposes), introduction of genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, shift from food to cash crops and resultant food insecurity. It clearly emerged out of 10 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
discussions with women leaders and our experiences that tribal women face the maximum pressures due to: a. Denial of Entitlement. (Harassment, health problems in accessing fodder and fuel) b. Perpetuation of stereotyped roles of women in the family (They spend 3-4 hours/day in gathering fodder, fuel and allied work) c. Lack of time to meet both the ends( denies them opportunities to participate in social, political or economic processes of empowerment leading to low self esteem and confidence) Women showed the will and need to break this cycle and make an impact in this situation – which in fact had (and still does) impact them specifically as women identified women as those women. - Support of local administration is another important area. To rope in additional funding support from existing sectoral programs for innovative projects like this is key to its success. Utthan has successfully mobilized additional grants to support various components from local government. This convergence is important to sustain the project and pave way for further expansion. 6. Assessment of lessons learnt during Project Implementation I. Describe the effects of this project in relation to the GEF focal areas and operational programs. Explain how the project was able to have an effect on biodiversity, climate change, or international waters. Assess the potential global benefits of this project. - This project is small to relate its outputs to potential global benefits although it has all the potential to influence global biodiversity if adopted at a scale. Reduction in use of chemical fertilizers, shifting to local based medicines from centralized pharmaceutical drugs, contribution to carbon cycle by fuel wood plantation, shift to traditional grain varieties leading to lower input farming that would conserve precious ground water, lesser emission of greenhouse grasses (shift from monoculture to mixed cropping), indirect withdrawal on all such inputs that contribute to negative global environmental impact have been reduced to a small extent through this initiative and further negative impacts can be controlled. - Conservation of the varieties as mentioned in the immediate benefits (Table 5 and 6) shows a clear impact on protection of local biodiversity Another important potential global benefit is the increased disposable income and its control (and standard of living) in the hands families who are living at the margins and the decrease in use of harmful farm inputs as in the calculated examples in Tables 7-10. There are many such direct and indirect impacts that the project has on approaches to biodiversity conservation.II. Did this project link the practice of sustainable livelihoods to a GEF focal area? Describe the strategies employed, indicating what works and what does not. The project is entirely based on sustainable livelihood of people and their food security issues. The key strategy employed is of biodiversity conservation to secure the above objective. A simple awareness campaign would have lesser impact in absence of demonstrations and sustainable asset creation that the project has adopted. The key strategy is to strengthen women around food security and sustainable livelihood issues, build their capacity and create assets that are key elements in ensuring food security. Though food security could be met in number of ways not all approaches are sustainable in the long run, indigenous and traditional knowledge based farming is the most sustainable way of ensuring food security. Vanita Shakti Mahila Sangathan (Women’s federation) has proved that it is capable of 11 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
feeding its members on a sustainable basis from the biodiversity based approaches to farming. It has established traditional seed banks, fodder banks and looked into fuel needs of women to fulfill the needs of local population without depending on government subsidies. Virtually the Sangathan (Federation) has demonstrated an alternative to the Public Distribution System. Similarly for health needs it is working on mechanisms to establish as comprehensive indigenous health care practice based on traditional herbs and healing practices. Though the concept has evolved out of GEF project, it needs additional support to scale-up and expand. Once it is strengthened, the local communities no longer need to depend on centralized pharmaceutical companies or doctors for primary health care. The approach under GEF project is sustainable more in the sense of social capital evolved in the process. Large numbers of women have come together on a single platform on biodiversity and food security issues. This is a rare asset in the region heading towards major transformation.III. Is this a community-driven project? How was community implementation and ownership of project achieved? How did this contribute to project success? Also, indicate pitfalls and tactics to be avoided. Explain issues regarding to community participation and ownership of roles and issues. The project is completely community driven. It was conceived through emerging concerns from the community itself. The communities were first oriented to the social, economic and physical losses occurred due to lost biodiversity base of their ecosystem through series of meetings, group discussions, and exposure to some projects designed on biodiversity conservation principles. Later they were organized on various issues identified through the process. Biodiversity Working Groups were formed on various themes and Federation Executive Committee took responsibility for overall coordination. It was not a simple process that could be achieved by fixing some log frames. The process was much more evolved and involved consensus building and taking stands as well. It took more time than expected – it was extended for 12 months for the same reason. No shortcuts could ensure a sustainable and empowering process. Any asset creation and its management involve huge stake of community and this cold lead to internal rivalries and partial conflicts if not managed properly and enough time invested in engaging various processes and simmering time. Though on the larger canvas the assets are common property resource, the internal membership stakes often take heavy toll on its sustainability. Clear defined roles and responsibilities were evolved instead of pre design such roles maximizing community stake. This helped to take up things in a planned time frame. Biodiversity working groups and leaders simulated on possible conflicts in asset management prior to asset creation which helped them to prepare themselves to resolve and transform conflict. They helped to avoid pitfalls in such practices and stick to the goal. This project helped build high level of community participation but also brought out some dilemnas of the time spent by leaders in the work. During times of purchase and distribution of seed/fodder for example, the biodiversity groups provided considerable time, sometime entire days, in the monitoring of the distribution and record keeping. Through organisational support, basic minimum actual costs of actual travel and food cost were met but to make this process sustainable, we are trying to work out strategies to ease this difficulty. This includes broad basing leadership so that more people can divide responsibilities and thus time which has already been initiated. The idea of raising resources is also being worked out although the motive of providing seed/fodder etc. at reasonable prices makes this a little tough. All through this process, the team played a vital hand holding role in supporting the leaders and creating ways and means which helped to promote decision making and empowerment of the federation 12 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
which is based in values of equality, gender justice and security. In the upcoming phases, we aim to work towards an increasingly independent governance mechanism within the community leadership.IV. Was there a capacity-building component in this project? How were local capacities enhanced? How did it contribute to project success? Also what links have been established for them to sustain this as a process As stated earlier, the key to project success is capacity building. Women’s federation, working groups and village leaders were trained at various stages through out the programme. Exposure visits, thematic training programs, simulations, on field technical trainings, group meetings, village meetings all put together has created sufficient knowledge and skill base in the project population. This has evolved as a strong social capital around livelihoods and biodiversity issues. During the capacity building process various indigenous knowledge sources were identified and resurfaced. Women who have immense knowledge of traditional herbal medicinal practices shared their knowledge and skills with other women. The same was documented in biodiversity maps. Working groups have undergone subject specific and systematic training programmes and developed skills on asset bank management, account and record keeping, conflict management, good governance, biodiversity interface with livelihood alternatives were some of the areas in which they were trained thoroughly. This enhanced the confidence in women to handle the biodiversity banks. The simulation training programmes cautioned them to prepare well in advance to face any contingency either in the form of local conflict or any eventuality. Federation and working groups have established linkages with various active stakeholders that could influence the processes they initiated. For example they negotiated well with local forest department and district authorities to release fodder grass to project villages at discounted rates. Some women also influenced village processes like in Umariya village leading to village decisions to keep village resources in the village itself. The resources are divided amongst the dwellers in an equitable way.V. Has this project increased public awareness of local and global environmental problems? Describe how this was done, and whether people are making use of the new knowledge. With which concerned departments/ stakeholder’s links have been established? The project fortunately dealt with the key issue of livelihood security and biodiversity. It has strong linkages with global environmental problems that have strong implication on livelihoods of poor. Hence emphasis has been given on educating local people to develop an understanding on local and global issues related to environment and respond positively to change. As a result, people participated actively in the project. This has been done through various campaign strategies right in the midst of village clusters. In each village awareness meetings at block and cluster level were organized. Local leaders were taken on exposure to successful projects and live interaction was encouraged. As a result 225 stared adopting sustainable farming practices like using vermin compost, traditional seeds, bio pesticides etc. Families started planting medicinal plants in their backyard. Crop residues are put to use as fuel option to that of cutting trees. The federation has established links with local Forest Department, District Collectorate (Administration), Departments of Agriculture, Tribal Development, Women and Child Development.VI. How did women and men participate in planning, implementing, and evaluating the project? Did project proponents plan a gender focus? Or did it evolve in the course of project implementation? What are some of the issues that came up in this regard? As an organisation, Utthan works with a strong and clear focus of gender equality recognising women’s agency as the core to their empowerment. Thus this initiative (in the form of this particular project) emerged 13 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
from these values and our analysis of women’s human rights situation. It in fact, emerged from discussions with women themselves. It came out clearly that women who produce for their families and communities are treated as `non-productive and `economically inactive partners in society. Though in tribal areas it is not clearly visible, it exists like in any other society. The devaluation of womens work, and of work done in sustainable economies, is the natural outcome of a system constructed by capitalist patriarchy. Globalisation through the process of chemical intensification or the intensification of genetic engineering is destroying local economies and unfortunately this destruction itself is counted as growth. Biodiversity intensification is what is needed to feed a growing population sustainably. This project implementation was carried out with the Women’s federation so it was women’s groups and leaders who were involved right through planning, implementation and evaluation. Evaluating the project at various stages by these stakeholders i.e. women, was important to assess where they stand at that point of time against the set objectives so as to be able to push the entire project towards achieving its goals. The involvement of men was in the form of partners in capacity building on sustainable farming techniques like vermin composting and herbal pesticide preparation. At the village level, dialogue with men while selecting bank sites, working of banks was taken up to build an understanding of the purpose and intent behind this work. To equip women with conflict resolution and transformation mechanisms, simulations of these situations during trainings were useful. This helped women to deal with initial resistance to their efforts to set up biodiversity banks or to take active leadership in the working groups and the federation. VII. Was this project run by indigenous people or involve significant participation by indigenous people? In this context, discuss ethnic, cultural, and historical factors that affected project design, implementation, and results. Discuss the impacts that the projects has made in the area The entire project was run by indigenous people. Dahod is predominantly a tribal district where more than 85% population is tribal and this proportion draws into the federation membership as wellAs Utthan is working in this region for more than a decade and the team is drawn from the region itself, the team has in-depth experience local culture, ethnic and historical factors of the region. By and large indigenous populations are open to new ideas if they are not dramatically contrasting to their traditional beliefs or values. The biodiversity based livelihood alternatives are not totally new to tribal communities; the knowledge, skills and practice had just been lost over timer under the influence of the Green revolution. This project was an attempt to reinstate sustainable biodiversity and food security and this was done keeping in mind the local language, systems of storage, tastes and predominant dietary habits. Using traditional mechanisms of storing grain in manure lined bamboo baskets, for example, helped to make the initiatives more acceptable.VIII. How has the sustainability plan and/or prospects been addressed? What aspects of the project design, project implementation, or other factors enhanced sustainability? How could other projects or country programmes use this experience to promote sustainability? The project is most sustainable as local communities took over the responsibility of asset management. The assets are created in consultation with local communities as per their needs. The project is replicable in any part of the globe where indigenous people would like to take initiative on biodiversity conservation linked with food security and livelihoods. In general communities are averse to join any movement that essentially focuses on global environmental concerns and is not too relevant to their local concerns. In this case, however, the project is strongly based on local needs that have clear dimensions of global concerns. The project has good chances of sustainability, as it is built on local leadership and 14 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
addressing their day to day needs. Both the design and implementation of the project are well thought off and evolved as a result of local concerns.IX. Is this project suitable for replication in other communities or regions? Could it be up-scaled to a medium-sized GEF project? Please indicate any plans in this regard. How would you like this to be addressed and financed? The project is replicable and has all the need factors for scale-up to medium size GEF project. While scaling up it could cover other clusters and strengthen the asset banks to move a step ahead to cater to all round needs of local communities to make their livelihoods 100% sustainable in biologically sustainable ecosystem. It is crucial to safeguard the genetic diversity of crops, seeds, plants, flora, fauna and integrate once again with tribal life style. The future plans are detailed earlier under the head ‘Future plans to continue, expand, or replicate project activities’. To address these plans, we have initiated the process of submitting a proposal to the Tribal Sub Plan/ Tribal Development Department who have visited our work and asked to submit a proposal for support. We are proposing support for asset building of local women’s federations which can be used as spaces for multiple biodiversity banks since this something the Government can provide and will ensure economic sustainability of the banks. However, we feel that there is a high suitability for deepening and replicating the work in the region for which it could be up scaled to a medium sized GEF project. This would include support for improving and strengthening the capacities of local leaders and sustainability of institutions, building mass awareness and providing innovative ways for people to become stakeholders in the process to sustain and preserve biodiversity and shift to ecologically sustainable patterns of living.X. Were there links between this project and the overall GEF? How were these links achieved? How have they benefited the GEF/SGP? How have they benefited the GEF? How did GEF/SGP help the NGO/ Communities to ‘leverage better resources from various other sources’ There are strong links between this project and GEF. The project has comprehensively addressed biodiversity issues in a sustainable way, a core priority of the GEF efforts. There are very few institutions which have been successful on the ground and the large demand from the field and the economic viability of the first cycle of biodiversity banks showcases this. Women’s leaders have successfully been able to collectively manage assets. They are ready to expand what has worked well and go to the next step as well for e.g. supporting the poorest women who could not voice their pressing needs for fuel due to their meagre buying capacity. This showcases that the project has been able to build capacities of communities as envisaged and had led to their empowerment to take control of situations impacting them. This project, although small, has a strong link with global level biodiversity and conservation issues. The strong need for biodiversity at the local level shows that there is a strong acceptability at the local level. It thus has a good prospect of being scaled up to a medium to large project. In terms of support from GEF-SGP, we did receive useful information. We feel it would be more helpful if there could be a more proactive engagement in terms of exchange and for leveraging resources from other sources.XI. Has this project influenced government policy? Explain what the government policy is, how it has been affected, and the role and nature of GEF/SGP influence. The project has demonstrated the potential of women in ensuring livelihood security through a biologically sustainable approach. At the local level, women have influences relevant agencies and departments in terms of dealing with corruption in ration shops, demanding transparency and ensuring 15 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007
support from Government in times of need like pressure for opening of Government Fodder depots intimes of crisis in the monsoon.Officials from Tribal Development Department visited the project and were impressed by the results andhave asked to submit a proposal for support to up scale the work. This step has been an initial steptowards policy change. However, it would be too ambitious to say that in this time period and scale,major policy changes were made. However, the interest from Government to support the work gives aclear indication of impacting existing government programmes.Eventually, a medium scale project will give more scope to influence policy and that would also meanincreased networking at the national level.16 Final report prepared by Utthan, December 2007