Men's self help group
Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who visited our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On June 25th he visited Gangeshwar to see Sahyog Sansthan’s activities in the area. His “Postcard” from the visit:
In the forgiving shade of a large tree, I chatted with the members of a men’s self-help group (SHG) that Sahyog Sansthan helped initiate in a village a couple hours outside Udaipur. All of the men (culturally women don’t participate in such groups, though many sat around the periphery) said their property had benefitted from Sahyog Sansthan installations to reduce soil erosion and help retain water—retaining walls, small-scale irrigation, anicuts. They said in previous years with a drought like the one they’ve experienced the past few years they wouldn’t have been able to have a second crop. This last year, with the retaining measures in place, all but one (of 11) claimed to have had a second crop and six even had a third. (Those with a third had also separately obtained electric water pumps. In fact, the only person who claimed to have gotten three crops without a pump was a woman who spoke up from the edge of the group.)
The drip irrigation systems, traditional irrigation systems, retaining walls and other installations I saw seemed to be professionally installed and in a good state.
Despite this success and the claim of those associated with the project that anecdotal evidence pointed to a much better water situation in this village versus others, it did not sound like the fairly low-tech technologies were spreading organically to adjacent areas—something I take as the highest sign of success for a project. Also, it was worrying to hear that all the men in the SHG were still involved in illicit cutting of trees despite laws against logging in the area. It seems a conservation project should look not only at technical solutions to environmental problems but also address the drivers of those problems. I hope Sahyog Sansthan will work to reduce the perceived need of people in the community to illegally cut down trees.
As an engineer, it was a pleasure to see a poster detailing the scientific method on the wall in Sahyog Sansthan’s field office. They seem to be bringing solid technical work to this drought-stricken area with a few areas to improve upon to provide a more holistic conservation effort.
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