Friday, February 18, 2011

LIFE project -an overview

LIFE Project -an overview
Project Title: Livelihood Initiation For Empowerment (LIFE), Rajasthan, India
Project Objective: Villages/Farmers of Ajmer and Banswara are having sufficient income and food availability from their agriculture and other sources of income.”
Location:  Ajmer and Banswara districts of Rajasthan State in India
Target community: marginalized farmers, women and youths
Time-Frame:  September 2010 to August 2012         
Name of Partner: Disha-RCDSSS (Ajmer) and SJVS (Banswara)

Context (Rajasthan)
Rajasthan the largest State of India with high population growth and has agrarian economy with greater drought vulnerability. Livelihood in the state is always challenged by recurring drought situations and insufficient agriculture gain. The rural communities in Rajasthan are mainly dependent on rain-fed agriculture. More then 85% farmers in the proposed districts have small landholdings which are less then 2 ha. The production from their farms hardly meet the food consumption needs at the household level, very few are able to sell little left out in market to earn income. The problem of low production farms and livestock is linked with poor knowledge of farmers on improved agriculture practices, ineffective service delivery from government and weak market knowledge and accessibility. The presence of exploitative middlemen who take major share of profit poses serious threat to the livelihood security both at the household and at the community level in the villages.

Project district overview
Ajmer: The Ajmer district falls under the central region of Rajasthan state, which is categorized as a semi arid zone where the rainfall is 610 millimeters. The extent of irrigation is however small. The principal means of irrigation are wells, canals, bore wells and tanks. Traditionally the source of irrigation was only the wells but now canals and bore wells are developed. The farmers lift water from the wells and canals with the help of diesel engine. The arable land in the project area has black soil and the non-arable land is stony and sandy in nature. The farmers use animals for ploughing and tilling their lands. The farmers usually practice two cropping in a year.

Banswara: Banswara district is located in the southern part of Rajasthan. As per 2001 population census, the total population in the district is 1.5 million ( 0.76 million male and 0.74 million female), out of which the Schedule Castes comprises of 4.28% and Schedule Tribes 72,2% Bhils are the most prominent tribe in the district. The total literacy rate is 44.22%.


Partners Introduction

Disha-RCDSSS-Ajmer
Roman Catholic Diocesan Social Service Society, Ajmer was registered on 24 April 1993 under Rajasthan Society Registration Act 1958, since it has been working in 5 Districts of Rajasthan to perform work of charity, social, medical, agricultural and educational development, for those in need especially in rural areas, irrespective of race, caste, community or creed in the spirit of brotherly love. Being a social service society, RCDSSS intends to control biasness for women in its interventional areas through awareness generation and community based institutions. It is continuously making all efforts to raise the status of women in the society through the various activities under the different project funded above organization to strengthen women in concern with enthusiasm and hope in the project areas.

SJVS-Banswara
The SAMPURNA JEEVAN VIKAS SAMITI-SJVS (Registration No.47/Udaipur/1986-87 dated December 18th 1986) was instituted by the Bishop of Udaipur for social and development works in the Diocese.  It has a governing and general body it is a registered organization.  It has a project selection committee with the bishop as the President and Fr. Kulranjan Nicholas as Social work Director and   Dr. K.K. Jacob as the social and development project consultant.  The SJVS has been involving itself in a number of social and development projects in the tribal areas and the most backward regions of southern Rajasthan.

LIFE project accentuates…
Communities in the project area have since time living on existing agriculture and related activities and prevailing farm lands and meeting their subsistence requirements. However, of lately, with external influence, access to market economy, there has been a constant shift in the interest of communities in preserving their natural resources. The recent trends in migration (although very minimal) towards distant areas in search of wage opportunities and somewhat assured regularity in income sources (wages) are further weakening the traditional values of doing agriculture. Agriculture primarily plays a significant role in rural peoples’ lives. What is required is a directed effort towards striving for enhancement of agricultural productivity including livestock production.
The main concerns that were identified during the planning exercise were:

Agriculture & Livestock Production
o       Lack of irrigation
o       Inappropriate agricultural practices
o       Over use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides
o       Lack of soil and water conservation
o       Presence of middle men in marketing the products
o       Absence of cooperatives and market outlets in the villages
o       Absence of proper livestock management skill
o       Lack of grading, packing and marketing practices in farmers.
o       Drought
o       Degradation of Natural Resources
Employment opportunities and scope of skill up-gradation in the village
o       Govt. Schemes for self employment and income generation activities
o       Unavailability of vocational technical institutes around the area
o       Unskilled employers
o       Migration
Govt. Schemes of employment & Status of NREGA: Non-participation of people in Gram Sabha and Ineffective functioning of PRIs. Awareness level of the area in terms of NREGA, RTI, Self-employment schemes and other opportunities to increase their agriculture and livestock income.


Strategy of Implementation 
  • Community mobilization and enhancing collectivization: The existing groups in the villages will be strengthened; farmers group will also be formed. These groups will be made aware about the issues, problems and possibilities this will function as base of our intervention. They will be in a position to take appropriate decision and actions for enhancing production and claiming their rights.
  • Capacity building of farmers: Farmer: will be capacitated that they gain knowledge and skill on sustainable and new techniques of agriculture, Leadership quality/Organisational management and awareness on schemes of employment. This will be done through trainings, exposure visit etc.
  • Establishing linkages with KVK, Sadguru: These are qualified technical institute promoting agriculture productivity and water resource management. This will help the community to address the problem of low productivity and optimum utilization of water resource by providing inputs on dry land farming creating demo farms and providing access to various schemes available with them.
  • Networking and advocacy:  with Agriculture & Irrigation Dept., PRI and other relevant agencies. Advocacy measures will be initiated by the people’s organization for the proper implementation of NREGA . This also will ensure that the works done under NREGA contributes to enhance the agricultural productivity of the villages.
  • Information dissemination: – Community’s access to resources: Information on various schemes specially by irrigation department, Agriculture university and Panchayat for Farmers and for generating employment will be disseminated so that the community is aware of various schemes and are applying and accessing the schemes 
  • Model development: Model farms development will encourage other farmer to adopt new practices and practice low cost and high productive crops which will contribute in problem solution.

Impact perspectives

The programme is designed taking into account the social and cultural pattern of the community and their assimilation capacities as well as their vulnerabilities. The programme will enhance the resilience of the beneficiary population. The programme contributes to the construction of local capacities in terms of programme management by involving them in the programme planning, implementation, monitoring and the self- help groups formed and their leaders will be the sustaining force for the programme. The programme will enable the beneficiary population to participate in the local governance system and networking with the government departments, banks etc and that would also ensure the construction of local capacities and fit into the local institutions.