Rajasthan, the project area, is the driest state in India. In the west of the state lies the Thar Desert, the most densely populated desert region on Earth. The occurrence of drought in this region is frequent but highly unpredictable, and consequently the conservation of water resources and reliable grazing lands is of the utmost importance. In recent years, population increase and the shift towards modern agricultural techniques, have led to the increased vulnerability of rural communities. Moreover, in a region as susceptible to drought as this, the climatic irregularities brought about by climate change have been felt acutely. Recognizing this, the project 'stop deforestation and restore grazing lands' has sought.
The project increases the resilience and adaptive capacity of communities, through interventions e.g. rehabilitating water harvesting structures, installing conservation devices and protecting trees, raising saplings in nurseries & transplantation including grass growing on the Orans or grazing lands, in the 10 project villages. In order to share and replicate the communities’ experiences, a workshop was organized, on 17th January 2015. As many as 40 people, including project community leaders, representatives of universities, government, research, academic institutions and NGOs were participated. As a result, this workshop has contributed to a growing body of information about community-level concerns, observations and experiences relating to climate change impacts and adaptation. Also, it strengthened the link between knowledge centres, universities, research and academic institutions and NGOs and communities in such a way that all can benefit on the issue of climate change and adoption.
The project undertaken conservation of ‘Orans’ community forest and grazing land; activities includes building rainwater harvesting structures, trees plantation, community skill development training and so on. A group of 13 leaders from different countries, made a two days (3-4 Nov. 2014) visit to the project. And, their quest was:
After visiting the project, their experiences read as, “Dear Amanji, Back in rainy UK after a wonderful end to the Pow Wow in Rajasthan, I wanted to write to thank you wholeheartedly for being such a wonderful host to our group who came to spend time with you, the community and the Oran at Bera. The group were all moved in different ways – by your passion, bravery and humility over the years, by the relaxed generosity with which we were greeted in the village, by the walk to the Oran. Realising that a tiger had crossed our path that very morning was a delight and the visit to the Mahatma was rich indeed - his humour, wisdom and irreverence a delightful and thought provoking mix!! Thank you for taking such care with all the details of organisation. This was a profound, moving and educational experience for us all which will never be forgotten------.” Nigel Topping, Facilitator of the Leaders’ Quest, as write through e-mail.
The following is a postcard from Neeharika Tummala, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in India and Bangladesh, about her recent visit to Krishi Avam Paristhitiki Vikas Sansthan (KRAPAVIS).
Of the 50 odd organizations I have visited, KRAPAVIS has a unique mandate of community development. They closely understand the relationship of people to the environment and how preserving one can benefit the other. Like millions of people in rural India, people are dependent on agriculture and raising cattle. But with lack of understanding and neglect, several grazing lands are being eroded and spoilt. As a result, birds don’t nest there, animals leave and biodiversity decreases. KRAPAVIS showed me that the damage is not permanent and with effort, grazing lands can be restored. I visited several such restored sites and my guides were two local KRAPAVIS ladies who have now become informal biodiversity experts! They showed me the nursery, where new plants are grown and then sold at nominal prices, taught me the names of certain plants and even showed me how to protect ants. No species is ignored! In one of the restored areas, I was told that tigers come at night to drink water, something that did not happen before and a great sign of conservation success. Conservation includes things like building bunds so that rainwater is conserved and available for community use.
The founder Aman would walk me through a site and would say ‘can you hear that?’ and I would say ‘what?’ and he said ‘the sound of birds chirping!’ I took these sounds for granted but realized what a disturbing world it would be if I woke up to hear silence instead of birds in the air.
The impact of restoring these grazing lands is that cattle have food and access to water which provides herders with increased access to milk and therefore income. One of the best examples of sustainable development that I have seen!
During the reporting period, ‘Johad’, a traditional rainwater harvesting structure has been built in ‘Oran’ sacred forest of Binak village, located in Sariska Tiger Reserve of Rajasthan (India). Intervention in a Oran depends upon its topography and villagers’ consensus. Also the amount of rainfall has been an important deciding factor. KRAPAVIS, the project organization follows a holistic approach of conserving flora and fauna in Oran, making livelihood sustainable for pastoralist communities of Binak village. Oran protects watershed and is of utmost importance as vital source of water. 'Johad' in Oran in turn stop soil erosion, recharged groundwater, nurtured vegetation in orans, and provided grazing and resting places for wild and domesticated animals.
Restoring sacred groves strengthens ethno-veterinary practices
In the project area of Rajasthan (India), the major livelihood of rural communities is rearing livestock and followed by agriculture. Due to lack of animal health care facilities in rural communities, people depend on locally available medicinal plants. Thus the project communities are engaged in restoring their sacred groves, which locally known as Orans. These Orans are also good micro biodiversity reserves; more importantly are good refuge for wildlife in an otherwise densely populated landscape. The people depend on these lands to procure access food, fodder and medicinal plants. In many cases, they are used for community gatherings during festivals.
In an in-depth investigation on medicinal plants in Orans, revealed that about 37 species of plants belonging to 32 genera under 24 families have been noticed which they use for veterinary health care. A total of 27 healers and herbal practitioners were interviewed during the study. Total of 47 remedies were recorded for 19 veterinary disease conditions of which 21 remedies were recorded under digestive disorders. Precisely, this project “Restoring sacred groves” strengthens the ethno-veterinary practices.
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