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Integrated Natural Resource Management – A project by United Breweries

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Introduction to the Project

Tijara, a tehsil in Alwar, Rajasthan is an under-developed area with a majority of the population being economically and socially backward. The demography comprises mainly of backward castes and minorities. For the longest time, illegal mining had been a contributor to the income of the communities living here.
The Integrated Natural Resource Management project is implemented in partnership with a reputed NGO, Sir Syed Trust (SST). SST is a voluntary organisation driven by a vision of “Enabling Poor for Sustainable Livelihood Development”. The main aim of the organisation is to empower the community through activities related to agro-forestry, water, livestock development, education and health in order to overcome the socio economic disparities and evolve a self-reliant community.
The project is designed largely for recharging ground water by renovating indigenous rainwater harvesting structures and undertaking rainwater harvesting measures on private lands. The main sources of livelihood in these villages are agriculture and livestock based and there is tremendous scope for improving the productivity of resources that people have. The project is designed to take a holistic view to address other livelihood needs of people living in these villages.
Prior to finalising on the project, a detailed participatory needs assessment (PNA) was carried by the partner NGO to identify the most pressing needs of the chosen villages. The PNA helped bring the people together and collectively discuss and prioritise their development issues.
The community has agriculture land through which rain water flows, making it undulated,thereby bringing down the productivity by 25-30% as compared to similar land in other villages nearby. Levelling of these lands to improve in-situ rain water harvesting and therefore the microclimate in the area which ultimately will increase the productivity of these lands is a part of the project. The project also aims to introduce improved agriculture practices to improve the quality of produce from these lands. To further support and improve microclimate, the project has an important component to plant trees along the field bunds and to develop fruit orchards.

 

Achievement of the Project
Initiated in October 2016, the project has been working towards building a pool of community leaders, and involving youth in all processes for faster expansion of project activities.
• Inclusion of women:
Women have been actively encouraged to participate in the project by forming Self Help Groups.
• Five Paals and 2 ponds renovated/rejuvenated:
Paals are earthen embankments constructed across seasonal nalas that restrict the flow of water during rains, reduces the erosion and helps recharge water locally. The renovated structures will help improve the water recharge as well as availability in the nearby areas.
• 35 Hectares of Land Levelled
Land levelling is being carried out for about 35 hectares of land, most of which has never been cultivated ever before because of the terrain.
• Plantations on farm bunds
6,175 trees have been planted along the farm bunds.
• 25 Women Self Help Groups
25Women Self Help Groups covering nearly300 families have been formed under the project. Monthly or weekly meeting of the groups and promoting monthly/weekly savings of a fix sum of money are being undertaken. Inter-loaning among groups is also being encouraged to help the other group or group members meet their emergency credit needs.
• 18 Orchards promoted
18 Orchards with a plant survival rate of about 88% have been promoted. Kinnowand lemon orchards are promoted under the project as they are most appropriate keeping in mind the micro climate of the region and the water availability.
• Kitchen Gardens promoted among 260 families
Community is being motivated to make kitchen gardens in their backyards to help meet their nutritional requirements from vegetables. About 260 families have been provided with seeds for growing vegetables.
• Vermicomposting introduced to 18 families
Vermicomposting has been introduced among several families so they can maintain kitchen gardens. Worms and polythene sheets have been distributed to 18 families so they can take up this activity full time and supply vermi-compost to the farmers and other households in need of it.
The focus of the project has always been to identify the most backward families and sections in the adopted villages and bring them into the mainstream.

Challenges
A majority of the activities under the project involved working with the community on family or community land and majorly those that had never been undertaken before. The community had apprehensions about any ownership issues that would arise.
Intensive community interaction sessions were organised to dispel rumours, clear the air and help them understand the objective of the project and the intended benefits. Community participation and contribution were highlighted as important components of implementing this projectto ensure ownership.
The women self-help groups have been a medium through which most of the financial transactions happen for all the land work. In a region which is extremely traditional in its outlook, getting women to be involved in anything beyond the housework has been a challenge. The project firmly believes in the importance of having these community structures lead the project to ensure its sustainability. Gradually, women have been brought into the project fold and this has brought about a remarkable difference in the outlook of the community with respect to the role of women in the society.

CSR Assurance for the Project by KPMG
KPMG, one of the Big 4 consulting firms undertook a CSR Assurance for this project to verify the implementation, monitoring and evaluation and CSR expenditure incurred on this project and found no discrepancies. The project is still young and in its implementation stage and an evaluation is planned once the project has matured and reached a stage where substantial impact can be shown.

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