Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Since 1968, Seva Mandir has worked with 360,000 people across 700 villages in southern Rajasthan, one of the world’s poorest regions, where people live on an average of USD 0.35 a day, to build cohesive and inclusive communities whose members are able to participate actively in the local decision-making which affects their daily lives.
Fostering democratic participation in the affairs of the community is the foundation for all of Seva Mandir’s interventions in the region and is a key element of its success in supporting deprived rural communities.
Seva Mandir has worked in partnership with these people, not only to improve their material well-being, but to build stronger and more ethical communities. Through its programs on governance, health, education, sustainable use of natural resources, women’s empowerment, youth development, child care and social enterprise, Seva Mandir makes a tangible and transformative impact.
At Seva Mandir, very modest amounts of money go a very long way toward improving people’s lives, and our success has been recognized through a long list of awards and partnerships with distinguished funders and the Indian government.
We wish to thank you for your continued support.
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Food insecurity, fully or partly, is an imperative concern of households in our region. According to a recent study, 10.2% households reported cutting or skipping meals in the last one year due to a shortage of food. However, this somewhat low figure belies the more serious situation that is most clearly revealed in the high rates of malnutrition amongst both children and adults. In this region, the size and quality of agriculture land cultivated by a household directly affects the amount and variety of food available for consumption. Furthermore, this being a drought-prone area with receiving scarce and erratic annual rainfall, access to sufficient irrigation facilities is another factor determining food security. Availability of all components constituting a daily staple food is important for fulfilling the nutritional requirements of the population.
Seva Mandir, through its interventions for watershed, water resources and agriculture development undertaken since last two decades, has been working to enhance the quality, i.e. productivity, of arable lands. Treatment of land and drainage-line together with creation of irrigation facilities- have significantly increased the productivity, while emergence of opportunities to take 2-3 crops a year increased the annual crop production for the families. In Dhala village where watershed was completed 3 years back, production of wheat of 24 farmers have risen to 239 qntl from 39.4 qntl of pre-project. Similarly, in another watershed village of Babri-Gadunia, farmers got 139.15 qntl of wheat that was hardly grown by them earlier. At the same time, in 14 Lift Irrigation System installed during last 5 years, wheat was grown earlier in the command areas of only 3 systems. Nevertheless, farmers of all 14 lifts grew wheat and obtained a production of 842.90 with the productivity of 12.64 qntl/ha.
Another major transformation that has happened through these activities is the change in cropping pattern in these associated villages. Earlier, only a few crops, like maize, black gram, rice, wheat, gram, mustard etc. were taken in monsoon and winter months. However, currently with better land conditions and availability of water, farmers have started taking new crops like pigeon pea, lusen, sismum, vegetables, barley etc. Some farmers who have more water are also taking the third crop in summer months. In a few places, farmers are also shifting onto cash crops, which are helping them in meeting the gap of cash. For example, in Damana, 16 farmers last year grew 82 qntl of Garlic with a market value of Rs. 2 to 3 lacs.
Change in productivity and production has contributed significantly in improving the food security of many households in these villages. Whilst we still lack enough data to substantiate this claim, during our interaction at various places, communities clearly shared that the need of purchasing food grains has reduced substantially for several families. Many of them do not have to buy their food grains from merchants, means a saving in their cash. At the same time, encouraging farmers to diversify their agriculture and providing them with vegetable seeds and fruit trees have benefited in two folds- households are getting green vegetables and fruits more in their food, and source of additional income is created mitigating their risk of being dependent on only one crop.
Some special studies will also be conducted to determine the impacts of our interventions on the food security of children, including change in their nutritional status. Further, a study was conducted by Seva Mandir in collaboration with SIPA, University of Columbia with an aim to develop a Toolkit for Assessing the Food Security in our region. The study helped in deriving various indicators- including nutritional status, which can be used to measure food security. We shall also try to include some of these indicators in our organisational programme monitoring and evaluation system.
Thank you so much Friends for your support.
Burhi is one of the 1000 women benefiting from our Wadi (small orchard) Project in the remote Guda village, Rajasthan.
A village where community is ruled by patriarchal norms, where land is never registered on the woman’s name, Seva Mandir has distributed wadi’s in the name of these tribal women. Burhi is the proud owner of her lemon, mango, jack fruit and vegetable wadi. Last year she earned Rs. 7,000 by selling vegetables. She is happy that now she can contribute to her family’s wellbeing.
These wadi’s are also providing food security to these tribal families. Before this, they had to migrate to neighboring states for employment and food. But with wadi’s on their own and support by Seva Mandir, these families are now self-sustained. This project is still in its third year and we hope to see the best of results by the end of seven year.
Thank you for your support.
Today is World Environment Day, so I thought of sharing with you a good story of Jardaya village.
Experience sharing of Jardaya Pastureland development by Mohan Lal
Mohan Lal is a resident of Jardaya village in Kumbhalgarh block. Mohan Lal has a family of ten members amongst whom 5 are male and 5 are female. In livestock he consists of 2 buffalo, 2 ox, 3 cows and 20 goats.
In this paper Mohan Lal has shared his experience of a Jardaya pastureland spread in an area of 85 bighas.
During the discussion Mohan Lal shared that before this land was developed as a pastureland, the land was seen to be as a wasteland. The land was of no use, only animal wander and used to rest here. Also there was always a fear of encroachment to be done by the villagers who many a times construct pits or do fencing of the area. Looking at the speed and frequency of the encroachments it seemed that the land will disappear slowly and will be of no use to the villagers. There was also a fear that the land will be undertaken by the political parties or by other powerful people of the village.
In the year 2008, some development work was done under NREGA (a government program) on this pastureland but due to completion of allotted budget incomplete boundary wall was constructed along with a check dam and few jatropha seeds were sown. There was always a discussion done in the Village Development Committee meetings that this land should be closed and protected at the same time or else even the stones of the boundary wall constructed will also be stolen.
A proposal was thus written and given to Seva Mandir to carry out the task whereas; revenue records and trace maps were obtained for the same. Following this, a survey was done by Seva Mandir people along with their engineer visiting and inspecting the site. An estimated budget of Rs 2.85 lakh was prepared in which investment was shown to be done in activities like boundary wall construction, developing trenches, pit digging and plantation. All the activities were successfully carried on.
After sanction when work was started, the illegal encroachments were removed from the site by village committee due to which about 2 hectares of land was cleared. The activities like Plantation, pit digging and developing trenches were completed in June 2011. A sum of 6360 saplings was planted in July 2011 with the onset of monsoon. The task was undertaken with quality of work and was accomplished timely. The Pastureland is attached to a road that lead to Damar which has a bridge built over it through which livestock enters into the developed pastureland and thus, destroys the plants. The part was then protected by the wire fencing.
After completion of the task in this pasture land it can be said that earlier in this land only stones were seen but now there is greenery all around. The view of this gives peace to heart. This year due to protection and proper soil-water conservation custard apple plants become able for fruiting. There is good regeneration of grass species. Villagers are now this year planning to harvest during November-December. The protected and regenerated Rungiya plants developed good leaf foliage which also helps as fodder for small ruminants. Earlier, due to less availability of fodder I was not willing to keep livestock but now I am thinking of buying a buffalo.
After plantation, number of meetings was organized with villagers to develop protection and management systems. After 2-3 meetings, a guard Deva ji was appointed by village committee to guard and protect the planted pastureland. They also decided to give 4 kg food grains by each family/ year to Deva ji for protecting the pastureland. They also decided that anybody tried to harm the pasture or planted tree, he will deposit Rs. 500 as penalty in Village Development Fund and Rs. 101/cattle by the owner.
During the period January to June, the 300 feet damaged boundary wall was repaired by villagers by their own contribution. Sums of 2500 saplings were also replanted in July 2012.
I sincerely feel that if this pastureland was not been developed our children would have only seen encroached lands as this was done speedily in the villages. Also, this year MGNREGA (a government employment program) work has not been taken in our village and thus there wasn’t any employment opportunity but due to the work of pastureland every family got employed.
Due to availability of fodder villagers will be encourage to keep livestock. Fruits obtained from the land will be sold and the money will be deposited in the Village Development Fund which further can be utilized for village development or any important task of the villagers. Fuel wood availability will also be easy and accessible.
This activity will also have good impact on environment as the mining work has been started in the nearby private lands which is destroying the ecological balance and this activity will bring greenery and life to the place and will be a boon for all 145 families residing in this village.
Mohan Lal concluded by saying that ”It has been our prior responsibility to protect and maintain this pastureland for coming years.”
Thank you so much friends for supporting our program, which is changing so many lives.
Thank you all for supporting us. Your support continues to enable Seva Mandir to provide food security to several tribal.
Sharing experiences of Pastureland development:
Uma Shankar (name changed to maintain the privacy of the person), was born and brought up in a revenue village, Kaylo ka Guda to a family that depended on agrarian activities for income. His father held a total of 30 bighas of land (1 bigha=0.4 hectare), out of which only 6 bigha could be used for irrigational purposes. Along with taking the responsibility of his family, he also took the initiative of involving himself in social work in his village.He shared some of his experiences regarding the importance of food security below.
Located in the south-west range of Aravali, the revenue village Kaylo ka Guda is at a distance of 23 km from Udaipur. This revenue village consists of 3 hamlets namely – Naron ka Guda, Chain ka Bhilwada and Kaylo ka Guda. Around 170 families reside in this village.
Problem faced before Pastureland development:
Almost a decade back, fodder was purchased from outside to feed the livestock in the village. However, there was plenty of land that was under the Panchayat (local level governing body) that remained fallow for the longest time.
This village came under the Seva Mandir work area through its Adult literacy programme and then after few years of working, Seva Mandir sought to develop 6 pasturelands as per the need and demand. All of the 150 families residing here used the grass obtained from this land and thus, there was no need of purchasing fodder from outside. However, open grazing and unprotected pastureland resulted in less productivity of the land therefore resulting in less fodder in the village. Continuous meetings with villagers led to conflict resolution and it was decided that the villagers would help construct the boundary wall and that they would help with soil-water conservation and plantation. With the help of village contribution all these three pasturelands namely – teen munda pastureland, unda khadra pastureland and bhamthara pastureland were re- developed and 10,352 saplings were planted.
The repair and maintenance work of these pasturelands was also done. Identification of sites, village meetings, trainings with villagers, raising of seedlings for plantation, re- construction of boundary wall, soil-water conservation, pit digging, direct seeding of grass and indigenous forest species were completed before the onset of monsoon. Saplings were planted in the month of July- August. A total of 1365 person-days was involved in the task execution. Presently all the 3 pasturelands of Kaylo ka Guda are maintained and protected.
When these pasturelands were not protected, the villagers used to purchase fodder for their livestock from outside their villages but now the fodder is easily available in these lands. Money saved through this is now used for other important activities. Work done in these pasturelands proved to be useful and it seems that productivity this time will be ample. The drudgery of women also reduced as they earlier had to travel a long distance to get fodder for their livestock which now is easily available at their village, 10352 saplings were planted resulting into a developed forest land.
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