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  • Forestry
  • Land & Water Management
  • Sustainable Livelihood
  • Institution and Building

Forestry

JFM   |   IGDP    |    NEAC


Across the globe, forest is known to be of critical importance for habitats in terms of their biological diversity and ecological functions. The ecosystem regulates the climate, restructures the weather pattern and hydrological cycle and protects the very important top soil by retaining the vegetation and controlling the water flow. Scientists debate the linkages between biological diversity and ecological services. Those who believe in a strong link argue that any ecosystem, forests included, cannot cope with stresses and shocks if the diversity of the system has been reduced.

Development and protection of forest along with deriving economic benefits for the stakeholders in a sustainable manner has been one of the key areas of intervention for VIKSAT particularly in tribal areas of Gujarat. Activities like Joint Forestry Management (JFM), afforestation, social forestry, grassland development, nursery development have been few of the multiple means to address the same. The activities are carried out keeping in mind the ecological, economical and social well-being aspects of the communities.

VIKSAT undertook several initiatives to restore, manage and develop the forest resource. The pro people approach adopted by VIKSAT signifies that people are the best managers and care takers of the resources, a critical factor that made significant difference. The approach led to formation, strengthening and sustaining institutions’ of people are for stewardship of the resources.

Joint Forest Management Programme

VIKSAT is pioneer in implementing the historic JFM programme in the state of Gujarat. The efforts included both, protection of forest resources and affirmation of economic activities from them. The significant role played by VIKSAT in restoring forest based ecological system by addressing socio-economic needs of local people changed the face of forest areas in more than hundred villages in Bhiloda, Satlasana and Khavda taluka.  While widely acknowledged by the community, the learning therein has also informed the policy dialogues on JFM in the state.

At present there are 77 Tree Growers Cooperative Societies (TGCS) protecting around 7992 hectares of forest land. Out of the 77 TGCs 56 are registered under the cooperative society act which gives them an independent legal identity and formal recognition to assert their rights over the protected land.

Capacity Building of People’s Institutions - SAKSHAM

Sangathan Kshamata Manch (SAKSHAM) was formed in 1995 as an informal network of federations of PIs, registered as a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950. SAKSHAM has representation from 12 taluka level federations across 9 districts in Gujarat, with a total membership of 417 JFMCs and 47,510 members. About 53,209.91 hectares of land is under protection by its members. These federations are involved in promoting forest protection and wasteland development. SAKSHAM facilitates the policy advocacy issues on behalf of the village level JFM Committees.

The project on capacity building of the federation to bring about self reliance, focused on
• Expansion of JFM activities within the State,
• Support policy advocacy,
• Explore employment generation opportunities. 

Training to Institutionalise JFM

To restore the ecological status of Aravallis, conserve biodiversity, check desertification, improve moisture regime and protect infrastructure, a project named as Rajasthan Forestry & Biodiversity Project (RFBP) was being implemented in 18 districts covering 26 forest divisions in Rajasthan with the financial aid of the Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC), Japan.

The programme was designed to do training need analysis (TNA), design training modules and impart training for capacity building of different stakeholders and institutionalization of JFM programme in Rajasthan.

a) Training Need Analysis

The study of TNA covered the entire RFD staff including range officers, foresters/forest guards and cattle guards. Participatory methods for TNA went into designing of data collection tools, mobilization & orientation of survey team, field testing, data collection and data analysis. 

b) Syllabus Development

On the basis of results of TNA, training syllabus was proposed for different stakeholders and the following training modules were developed:
 
 • Training Module for Village Forest Protection and Management Committees (VFPMCs)
 • Training Module for NGOs
 • Training Module for Public Representatives (Panchayat & Sarpanch)
 • Training Module for range forest officers, foresters, forest guards and cattle guards
 

c) Training Programmes

Training programmes were conducted for all the different cadres after consulting the Director, Forest Training Institute, Jaipur.

Integrated Grassland Development Program in Kachchh


VIKSAT’s approach of ecological development combining with economic gain for stakeholder in sustainable manner has led to coordination with Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE) and Forest Department for an Integrated Grassland Development Programme.

The programme was operational in Khavda Pacham area which falls under the famous Banni grass land area located along the fringe of Rann of Kachchh. It is renowned for ecologically significant and naturally rich grasslands. Thanks to its huge pasturelands and rich vegetation, animal husbandry has prospered in this area as the principal source of income and provides secured livelihood for thousands of native residents. However, due to open grazing, over exploitation of its resources for commercial purpose, ingression of salinity and various ecological reasons the productivity of grass land has persistently declined in the last few decades. These ecological changes have direct implication on the livelihoods of Banni population and consecutively would result to further exploitation of the grasslands.

As declared by the Government of India, in the12th Finance Commission, a decision was taken to revive the ruined grasslands across the country. In Gujarat, the Forest Department and GUIDE came out with a participatory fodder plot development program for revitalization of grassland. 

The main objectives were

o To strengthen the traditional practices of conservation of Grassland
o To prevent the migration of Maldharis (cattle herders) by developing fodder sources 
o To develop and conserve the grassland and develop various varieties of grasses

As a part of this program, Bhumi Sankalit Ghasiya Jamin Vikas Karyakram was implemented by VIKSAT in 5 groups of 14 Panchayat villages. The key activities of the Program included formation of grassland development committees (GDCs), building their capacities and developing grass plots with participatory approach ensuring community ownership, equity and sustainability.


NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AWARENESS CAMPAIGN (NEAC)

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Since 1986, VIKSAT, the Regional Resource Agency (RRA) for Gujarat, Diu & Daman, has been executing the Annual National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC) sponsored by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), New Delhi. This annual campaign conducted on the identified environmental theme every year to spread environmental awareness. Non – Governmental organizations, School, Colleges, Nature Clubs, Education and Training Institutions, actively involved in the field of environment education and awareness takes part in the campaign and spread awareness through various programs like seminar, workshops, rallies, padyatra, Jatha, competitions, street play, puppet show, meetings, folk media and folk dance.

The National Theme for 2011-12 was “Forests for Sustainable Livelihood” which included Sub themes like Afforestation, Forest Conservation, Forest and Climate Amelioration, Forest for Water, Joint Forest Management, Agro/Social Forestry, Forestry in Urban & Peri Urban Area, Renewable Energy and Green India Mission. 

Out of the 875 requests for proposals received, 569 applications from the institutions were sanctioned for implementation in 2011-12. An amount of above Rs. 52 lacs was disbursed to the partner organizations in Gujarat, Diu and Daman to implement the activities. 

VIKSAT along with West Bengal RRA were recognized as best RRAs in the country. He further informed that MoEF has requested VIKSAT to orient the other RRAs about the internal procedures being followed.

Land & Water

WDP  |   Watershed plus   |


Land and water as finite resources encounter severe pressure from a growing population as well as changes in consumption and production patterns due to un-sustainable development, urbanization and industrialization. There is a rapid decrease in freshwater availability and productivity of the available land. The ever increasing demand for water and food possess the greatest challenges and the situation is getting alarming in the days to come. Declining land and water quality and increasing pollution exacerbates the need to address the causes not just for mitigation but for regeneration and restoration of the resource base.

As one of its main thematic areas, VIKSAT takes up programmes under land and water management, which holds a key to sustainable livelihood for many in the rural regions. The special focus is on managing land and water resources through PIs. VIKSAT has been addressing common but grave problems of depletion of groundwater, droughts etc. through groundwater management, artificial recharge, RWH and adaptive strategies for drought. 

Restoring, rejuvenation and recharging of the land and water both in terms of quality and quantity constitutes one of the most critical area for the organization. The focus on land and water management in terms of watershed development, land development, improved agriculture practices, change of cropping pattern, providing irrigation support, adoption of new technology and knowledge has been the focus area. Discussed below are few of the strategies followed. 

Watershed Development Projects

Watershed development is an important approach to improve the social and economic conditions of people living in resource starved semiarid regions covering approximately two-thirds of the country’s agricultural land. In addition to achieving biophysical objectives, contemporary watershed aims to promote the livelihoods of rural people, especially the poor and disadvantaged.

The process of watershed development includes harvesting rainwater wherever it falls, increasing green cover and adopting sustainable land husbandry practices in the watershed. It implies making bunds, digging trenches, building gully plugs etc in a way that will arrest the rapid flow of water from hill slopes to the ground. This is necessary because during the few days of rainfall, the tendency of water is to gush down the slopes and also take the top soil cover along with it. This means that there is no water conservation and precious fertile soil is lost too. When this flow is reduced or made to go through steps, water percolates into the ground at various spots and increases the underground water table. At the bottom of the hills, it collects to form water reservoirs. And while flowing down slowly it helps turn patches of land green.

From mid-eighties, development of dry-land agriculture on watershed basis has been a national strategy for sustained productivity and rational utilization of natural resources. The total resource can be properly developed only by adopting watershed approach. In terms of resource development, it covers development and management of resources like soil, water, vegetation and associated components. VIKSAT implements four watershed projects in Khedbrahma Taluka of Sabarkantha district with support from NABARD under its Indo German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) and KFW, Germany.  Cumulatively, about 1270.95 ha of the land have been treated so far.  Presented here is a brief account of the four watershed programmes.
 

Sembaliya watershed project 

VIKSAT initiated watershed based interventions since February 2005 in six tribal dominated villages along the Poshina belt in Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat and in one village of Kotada block of Rajasthan. The patient and consistent efforts have resulted into completion of the several phases. VIKSAT has successfully implemented the ‘Full Implementation Phase (FIP)’ spread over four years covering watershed area of 1240 Hectares. So far, treatment measures have been undertaken in 852.85 ha. of land.

The project measures include (1) Area Treatment consisting of forest land, grassland and farm land development activities and (2) Drainage Line Activities. The area treatment includes activities like earthen bund, stone bund, continuous contour trenches (CCT), Water Absorption Tents (WAT), plantation on wasteland, sowing of grass seeds, grass seeding etc. The drainage line treatments include activities such as gabion structures, nala plugging, earthen bunds with cement spillway, construction of waste weirs and check dams. 

Navamota Watershed Project

In February 2008, another watershed development programmes was initiated at Navamota and surrounding other six tribal dominated village with total geographical area of 1956.7 ha. The delineated watershed area is over 990.58 ha. The project is currently in the second year of the FIP covering watershed area of 898.92 Ha. So far, treatment measures have been undertaken in 332.95 ha. of land. 

Ratanpur Watershed Project

The Ratanpur watershed project intervention started from the year 2010 in five tribal dominated in Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat. The delineated watershed area is 1073.26 Ha out of the total geographical area of 1576.99 ha.

The project is planned as per ridge to valley approach and is currently in the CBP. Intensive community consultations during planning  is key in generating social capital in the programme. 

Matarwada Watershed Project

The Matarwada project intervention, currently in CBP, was initiated since 2011 in 1164.63 Ha out of the total geographical area of 2436.40 ha spreading over four villages.

In all the watershed projects, village watershed committees (VWCs) , primarily responsible for project measures implementation with VIKSAT’s facilitation, are formed and are being slowly but steadily being empowered to fulfill their responsibility.

One of the key aspects of the CBP has been in gaining confidence of the community. Transparency plays an important role in winning trust and confidence of the community to implement community development projects. The VWCs makes the payment, at a public place directly into the hands of the people who work under the project. This is done in the presence of the community leaders, community members and VIKSAT representatives, which has granted greater 
credibility to the whole process. 

WATERSHED PLUS: ENHANCING LIVELIHOOD RESILIENCE OF THE TRIBAL COMMUNITIES

While technical interventions like soil and water conservation and water resource development are significant to watershed projects, over the years it has been realized that forward linkages for input supply and extension activities also need to be promoted for the required translation of the benefits of watershed projects into generation of additional income. This felt need transformed into an additional component of the watershed project is termed as ‘Watershed Plus’.

The entire project turned up into a combination of two components; component one focused on investment in soil and water conservation structures which is a major activity and the second component aimed at getting maximum mileage of the first component through additional activities. The cutting edge of second component is in providing flexibility to the project and meeting complimentary requirements of the project by establishing forward and backward linkages to achieve the desired results and improvement in socio economic conditions of the people. These ‘Watershed Plus’ activities are as follows:

(a) Skill building trainings

The skill building trainings include trainings for women SHG members for various income generation activities, and youth were given training for repairing of diesel pump and hand pump. The participants were given practical hands-on experience during the training as they were expected to actually repair one diesel pump and one hand pump at the field sites. After the trainings, the participants were also given tool kits to facilitate in the process of income generation. 

(b) Interaction with scientists and exposure to promote improved agriculture practices

To provide opportunity for interaction with agriculture scientists and also to expose the community to improved agriculture and animal husbandry practices, visits of selected farmers to Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Khedbrahma, Dantiwada Agricultural University, Navsari Agricultural University and Lachhakadi watershed area were organized. The visits had an impact of widening the vision of the participants. Their motivation and urge for improvement was clearly reflected during the village meetings which followed the visits and can also be observed in the improvement in the quality of work done under watershed project. 

(c) Demonstrations for Improved Agricultural Practices

The second component of the watershed plus project involves demonstrations of improved agricultural practices by some of the dynamic farmers of the project area with inputs from scientists. During the year, demonstrations were conducted for Maize, Cotton, Groundnut, Castor, Pigeon pea, Green gram and Brinjal. 

(d) Celebration of Field Days

Field day celebration provide an opportunity to a large number of farmers to assemble at the selected demonstration plot to themselves witness the success of the trail in terms of considerably increase in the crop yield after adoption of the improved agricultural practices suggested by the scientists. 

(e) Support for Irrigation- Provision of Pipe line

Support for irrigation is one of the major requirements which farmers often require after a watershed project. This is particularly important in tribal areas where agriculture land is scattered and farmers are having minimal exposure to irrigation as traditionally the agriculture pattern is rain fed. Lack of exposure with low investment capability, the small and marginal farmers generally find it difficult to try different irrigation methodology on their own and hence required external support towards creating a demonstration effect. Thus to begin with, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes of 100 meters running length and fittings were provided to the 25 beneficiaries. This helped the farmers in applying irrigation largely to their cotton and wheat crops. As a result, the crop growth was good and farmers got higher production. 

(f) Seed kits distribution

Again as mentioned above, provision of improved seeds, is also essential for motivating the farmers to shift towards improved varieties. Thus seed kits for Wheat, Lucerne and Green gram crops were distributed to total 58 farmers. 

(g) Demonstration of Drum kit irrigation in vegetable crops

The farmers usually prefer flood irrigation when water is abundantly available for irrigation since it is the simplest method of irrigation. However, where the water is in short supply, micro irrigation systems (MIS) provide best solution to address irrigation needs. Further, it also enhances production of the crop at least by 30 per cent as per experience of the scientists. To demonstrate the same, 10 drum kits along with good quality vegetable seeds were also distributed to beneficiaries. 

(h) Reconstruction of wells 

There are large number of ‘Kachcha’ wells in the project area which are filled up by the soil during heavy rain falls and storms. The farmers have to take out the soil from the well to rejuvenate the well. Very often, this is not done in time and ultimately the crop is deprived of irrigation at a critical stage. To demonstrate the importance of well strengthening and help a few of the needy farmers, well strengthening activity was implemented. Three farmers were able to implement the activity out of five selected beneficiaries.

(i) Well Deepening

In the project villages, some farmers use wells for irrigation as well as drinking water purposes. But after khariff season, the availability of water in their wells is considerably reduced. The farmers felt that if the wells were deepened by about 10 feet, it might improve the water quantity available for irrigation. For this purpose, nineteen farmers were supported with well deepening. As a result, more water became available for irrigation in Khariff season particularly providing for supportive irrigation to cotton. It also resulted in the increase of the area of the irrigated land during khariff season and some of the farmers also had additional water for irrigation of Rabi crops.

(j) Irrigation development on group basis:

While it is not possible and even feasible to promote individual wells for everyone, VIKSAT has been encouraging small and marginal farmers to join hands and form small groups to take advantage of their collective strength to mitigate their problems of irrigation through the concept of group wells. Under this, a beneficiary group was formed where one of the farmer was having a open live well in his field with sufficient water but unable to irrigate his own entire field nor able to sell the water to neighbouring farmers due to lack of water lifting device. The group was encouraged to install good quality diesel engine to lift water from the well and provide water for irrigation to all the members of the group. The efforts to promote group based irrigation helped 20 farmers to come together and form three groups. These three groups contributed their cash contribution and installed diesel engines (10 HP) in the month of March 2010. 

(k) Veterinary Camps 

In project villages, veterinary facilities are inadequate and lack the medical treatment of their animals. Camps are important for vaccination, diagnosis and treatment of the animals at village level. For providing veterinary services at village level, five camps were organized- three in the month of September 2009 and two follow-up camps in the month of January 2010, in three of the Sembaliya watershed project villages. The surrounding project villages were also informed about the camps. Veterinary camps were organized with technical support from Department of Animal Husbandry, Himmatnagar. Overall, 658 farmers participated in three camps and 2111 animals were treated. 

Convergence with Government Department 

(a) Nursery development with forest department (Social)

District Department of Social Forestry in Sabarkantha district had invited NGO representatives of the district to seek participation for promotion of social forestry. In this meeting, VIKSAT representative informed the department about the watershed projects along with watershed Plus project implemented in the tribal villages of Khedbrahma block. Taking the note of the same, forest department offered a nursery programme for each of the two watersheds. 

(b) Promotion of Horticulture Crop in Tribal Area with Horticulture Department

In Bhiloda field office area, VIKSAT has collaborated with the Horticulture Department, Himmatnagar for gaining 50% subsidy for farmers for 1000 saplings of improved variety of Mango. The village wise list is given below.

 

Sustainable Livelihood

NRM   |   RFM   |  


A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets, and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.

A sustainable livelihoods approach is a holistic method of addressing development issues that centres the discussion on people's livelihoods. Sustainable livelihoods is a chameleon-like concept that can serve many functions: it is at once an established development objective, an analytical tool used to understand the factors influencing a community's ability to enhance their livelihoods, and a method of eradicating poverty

Underlying the sustainable livelihoods approach is the theory that people draw on a range of capital assets or poverty reducing factors to further their livelihood objectives. Assets are categorized as social, human, natural, physical, financial, and political, and may serve as both inputs and outcomes. Various vulnerability factors over which people have little or no control (such as environmental disasters and political unrest) impact the assets. Assets are also filtered through policies, institutions, and processes that determine the degree to which the people's livelihood objectives are realized. The model that VIKSAT adopted for sustaining livelihood base of the stakeholder was through livelihood financing. As an organisation we understand that it is important to make people partner in growth and that is only possible when they contribute equally not depend on the grants alone.

VIKSAT has taken up a new project under livelihood domain titled “Promoting Sustainable Natural Resource Management through People’s Institutions” under larger “Umbrella Programme for Natural Resource Management” (UPNRM) being executed by NABARD. The programme aims to develop alternative financing solutions and to institutionalize community-based public private partnership (PPP) approaches for the natural resource sector for sustainable livelihood generation. UPNRM is an approach to support financially viable models for productive resource management and also to facilitate private sector involvement in a partnership mode for the implementation of public investment Programs for rural areas.

Promoting Sustainable NRM through People’s Institutions


The programme aims to develop alternative financing solutions and to institutionalize community-based public private partnership (PPP) approaches for the natural resource sector. UPNRM is an approach to support financially viable models for productive resource management and also to facilitate private sector involvement in a partnership mode for the implementation of public investment programmes for rural areas.

The initiative aims to extend tangible economic benefits of natural resource management through entrepreneurial utilization of the resources and thereby fostering poverty alleviation and growth of rural economy.

The broad objectives of the project are:

• To enable village level institutions to cater to the short-term and medium term credit needs of activities relating to natural resource management sector undertaken by rural poor, in general and SC/STs in particular.
• To facilitate higher income and increased economic benefits for participating rural households from management of activities relating to natural resources.

The project has two major components; community capacity building to manage NRM based livelihood sources and to provide finance for income generation activities to be taken up by communities. The project is being implemented through SHGs as a strategic partner as well as viable financial institution at village level. All financial services under the project would be routed through the SHGs and they have a crucial role to play in managing the services under the project. The financial service covers loan for NRM based livelihood sources, life and asset insurance for borrowers.

Management Information System

A MIS programme has been developed which is to be operated at two stages, both at field and head office level. Formats are developed for collection of data at the SHG level and at borrower level which would be fed into computers at field offices. The MIS provides a robust platform for quick service delivery and effective management.

Staff Training

One project launching cum orientation consultation was organized for all the VIKSAT staff to share different aspects of the project and to clear the role and responsibilities at different levels including administration and account department. Another participatory training was organized for technical understanding on project components and operating system. Apart from this staff members are also oriented on key technical matters that include legal modalities, MIS, project management system, accounting procedures, trainings to be imparted at field level, documentation of the outcomes and execution strategy.

Project orientation meetings with SHGs

A series of project orientation meetings were organized with SHGs in the project area. In these meetings SHGs were provided with detail information on the categorisation of the loans, insurance, eligibility criteria, legal and financial requirements, project operating system and different kind of skill enhancement programmes to be undertaken as integral part of the project.

Sustainable Nutrition Education Health and Livelihood (SNEHAL) Programme

VIKSAT partnered with CARE, Gujarat as an implementation support agency for SNEHAL programme with the aim to strengthen the livelihood options for the rural poor in the Santalpur block. In the ambit of the larger initiative, VIKSAT worked towards strengthening community level institutions in six villages namely Varnosari, Patanka, Daldi, Bavarada, Bamroli, Manpura and Charanka of Santalpur block in Patan district. The project period was from 2006 to 2009.

However owing to internal adjustments and restructuring, resource support for the project could not be continued for the entire period as committed. However, VIKSAT continued the initiatives to a logical conclusion and has taken up many activities that were started under the project and especially the activities with SHGs and farmers.

Under SNEHAL program a total of 22 SHGs have been formed and strengthened. The SHGs cohesively working towards encourage the women community to do the savings and credit activities, so as to make them self-dependent, improve their current livelihood and strengthen themselves socially. The other distinct outcomes are easy access to financial resources, grading, linkage with resource agencies and leadership quality.

A remarkable shift in demand and use of intra loan has been experienced with progress of time among the SHG members. The major loan demands this year includes mainly purchasing of seeds and fertilizers for agriculture, medicines, purchasing food grain, carrying out income generation activities in smaller scale, educational expenses for children and acquiring household assets; while loan sanctioned for social and cultural ceremonies has reduced to a large extent.

Revolving Fund Management


Revolving fund from Sir Dorrabji Tata Trust (SDTT), Mumbai

In the year 2004-05 VIKSAT facilitated a revolving fund from SDTT, Mumbai for the PIs and block level federations of Satlasana and Bhiloda block. This fund was aimed at meeting various financial needs of the institutions and also to initiate various developmental activities beyond a project framework. For better and effective management of the fund, a Revolving Fund Management Committee (RFMC) was formed. The meeting of the committee held every quarter which looks after the request made, feasibility and viability of the initiative proposed. Till date, the cumulative loan of Rs. 30.82 Lakh has been disbursed among four federations of Bhiloda and Satlasana blocks.

Revolving Fund – VIKSAT

Apart from intra loans, VIKSAT also runs a Revolving Loan fund for the SHGs. However, use of the fund is decided with participatory way with regular meetings between VIKSAT and SHGs. In this year, many regular meetings were carried out and crucial points of actions were discussed for strengthening the SHGs. Below is the table that indicates the performance of the revolving fund.

Revolving Fund from M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)

With support from MSSRF, Chennai a grant under revolving fund of Rs.10 lakhs was given to the SHGs of Kachchh district. The members of these SHGs have undertaken micro enterprises like manufacturing washing powder, embroidery & stitching, bandhani work, weaving, pottery work, animal rearing, sale of vegetables, spices, cloths etc. For these enterprises loans are granted top the members with no interest since 2003. Till now, 29 SHGs in 14 villages have been benefited and from Rs. 10 lakh this has increased to Rs.21.19 Lakhs and is currently in operation too. Up to the last financial year, out of the total amount Rs.16 lakhs have been refunded by the members. The activities undertaken and the profits generated have made these women self-reliant, and also enabled them to return the loan in time.

Institution and Capacity Building

Comu. Dev.   |   BRGF    |    MGNREGA    |    SHG


Institution and Capacity building

Nurturing, managing and building capacity of the institutions in general and peoples’ institution in particular has been the core approach of VIKSAT from beginning. We believe that the quality the institutions formed by the organisation does matter a lot for its’ growth and development.

Over the last 34 years, VIKSAT has worked at grassroots level with communities in their local regions towards developing models which ensure sustainability of livelihoods through natural resource management. To enhance meaningful participation in natural resources management, VIKSAT has been working towards imparting skills related to institution building, resource generation, management and other support.

Community Development through People’s Institutions


VIKSAT strongly believes that development of People’s Institutions is essential for the sustainability of any programme and the same reflects in its efforts under every programme and so in NRM or livelihood activities too. VIKSAT has thus been promoting and supporting a number of PIs in 4 regions of Gujarat. With continuous efforts for the capacity building of these institutions, they have acquired the ability to function independently with minimum effort from outside.
These PIs are formed with the objective of empowering local communities on NRM and to enable them for equitable and sustainable use of resources for their own economic development. In current situation, majority of the community members in the intervention area have gained the capability to identify their needs, plan, financial management and conflict resolution.
VIKSAT has by now formed 943 PIs at village level including TGCSs, SHGs and Pani Samitis in Bhiloda and Khedbrahma (Sabarkantha district), Satlasana (Mehsana District), Santalpur (Patan district) and Bhuj (Kachchh district) regions of the Gujarat State. This has touched the lives of 24,609 people directly. Over a period, these institutions gained knowledge and capabilities to handle the issues of natural resource management at a larger scale and this has resulted in the formation of four block level federations extending the reach of local TGCSs and SHGs. Two state level institutions have also been formed, namely Sangathan Kshamata Manch (SAKSHAM) for Joint Forest Management Committees.

Nurturing and managing SHGs

With the support from NABARD, Gujarat promotion, management and linkages to resource agencies of 250 SHGs in Mehsana, Patan, Sabarkantha & Kachchh districts was initiated. The 3 year project was started from 2007.
The main objective of this project is to empower the women members of the community through exposure, access to financial resources through linkage and sharing of knowledge and experience. The aim was also to provide a platform where mutual sharing of knowledge and experience can happen which will promote peer learning. Since this also fulfils the mission of VIKSAT in regard to strengthening of People’s Institutions with active participation of men and women from all sections of the community for equitable and gender sensitive, development and management of natural resources the project is getting implemented. Activities carried out under the project include:

• Formation of SHGs
• Opening of bank account
• Saving & credit activity
• Intra loan within group
• Grading of SHGs
• Bank credit linkages
• Capacity building in the domain of leadership, decision making, maintaining books & accounts, networking and micro enterprise Formation of People’s Institutions [PIs] - Bhuj
People’s Institutions being a strategic approach of VIKSAT for project execution, the Banni Pashu Ucherak Maldhari Sangathan was formed and registered under the trust act, keeping the sustainable impact and transition policy of the organisation in mind. Currently efforts are being made to build the capacities of the sangathan to take up the ownership of the project and mobilize self-initiated actions which are also beyond the scope of the project. Members are encouraged to meet regularly, discuss and plan out the activities which are being implemented under this project for effective outputs. Regular trainings and consultations with the members is also being carried out. The sangathan is being guided in such a way that it would be capable of handle this program independently after completion of the project.

Formation of Farmer’s Clubs

Farmer’s clubs are grass root level informal forums with the support and financial assistance of NABARD for the mutual benefit of the banks concerned and rural people. The emerging trend in agriculture sector is adoption of location specific skill and knowledge based technologies along with promoting greater value addition to agriculture produce, forge new partnerships between public institutions, technology users and the corporate sector and harness IT more effectively to realize financial sustainability and compete in the international market.
Farmer’s club are serves as an institution with an objective of transferring of technology, improving input, use efficiency, promoting investments in agriculture thus create a favourable and enabling economic environment. They are also useful for transmitting the latest agriculture techniques to the farmers’, orienting them to establish better relationship with banks, adoption of latest post-harvest handling technology, value addition, etc. In addition the formation of the clubs also help the members enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining power both for procuring inputs and for marketing. With the financial assistance from NABARD, VIKSAT has formulated 37 farmer’s clubs in its field areas.

Development Planning and Assessment


District Perspective Plans under Backward Region Grant Fund

Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) is a scheme launched by the Government of India (GoI) to support 250 most backward districts of the country with an untied grant to fill up the critical gaps uncovered under other fund resources with the aim to address backwardness of the district.
The planning process under BRGF calls for ‘bottom to top’ planning. The planning units are local government bodies, namely Gram Panchayats i.e. Rural Local Bodies (RLBs) and Municipalities i.e. Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). The final district plan is prepared by the district planning committee combining the plans received from RLBs and ULBs.
VIKSAT provided technical guidance to 4 districts of Gujarat for preparation of the district development perspective plan and annual action plan through a participatory approach the elected members and officials of the RLBs and ULBs and compiled the final perspective plan (2009-12) and annual action plans for F.Y. 2009-10 and 2010-11. The district wise details are given below.
Sabarkantha

During this reporting period, VIKSAT prepared the Sabarkantha District Action plan 2010-11. The plan covered 1374 villages, 719 RLBs & 8 ULBs from all 13 blocks of the district. Subsequently the plan has been approved by both the district planning committee & state level high power committee formed for this purpose.

Banaskantha

VIKSAT was invited by the DRDA, Banaskantha to provide technical support in the preparation of District Development Perspective Plan 2009 -12 and District Action Plans for the years 2009-10 and 2010-11. The process covered 1244 villages, 783 RLBs and 6 ULBs from 12 blocks. The plan was submitted to the concerned authorities and has been sanctioned.

Dang

The DRDA Dangs has approached VIKSAT to edit the district development perspective plan 2009-12 and annual action plan 2009-10 as prepared by DRDA, Dang. VIKSAT rendered technical support for editing of these plans. The plan covered all 311 villages, 70 RLBs of Ahwa block. The final plan has been submitted to the district and approved by the committee both at district and state level.

Narmada

As a technical support institute VIKSAT first facilitated the processes of preparing BRGF plan for the year of 2010-2011 among the line departments and representatives of all the three tiers of Panchayat (village, block and district) and later document the same. The District Plan was uploaded on the Plan Plus site.

Monitoring and Streamlining of MGNREGA convergence


Development of convergence resource envelop for model village

The District Planning Committee (DPC) of Narmada district has selected 40 villages (10 villages in each of the four blocks) to convert them into model villages. A model village refers to a village that has all up-graded facilities for health, education, infrastructure, livelihood, water and sanitation. This exercise was carried out in three phases. In the first phase, a series of needs assessment and community interaction activities were administered at all the three levels of Panchayat and a data base of needs, demands and aspirations was created.
In the second phase, a team from VIKSAT visited all the 40 potential model villages to verify and confirm the respective components of the villages as given in the data base. Needs were examined, demands were questioned and aspirations made more contextual. The resulting entity was a more realistic and contextual data base. The third phase will be the utilization of the local natural resource base to the optimal advantage of the populace, in consultation with data base. Our efforts in this regard is to work towards evolving a model village, in scenarios typifying regions like Narmada district and elaborate the same to serve to others as a model in terms of (a) the quality of basic services available (b) the access of the populace to the available resource base (natural, financial and human) and (c) the equity it entails in reaching the fruits of development processes to the community.
For each of the emerging activity we have planned to use available funds from all sources and utilize the BRGF fund to fill in all the gaps, leading to the creation of village level convergence resource envelope.
Apart from this VIKSAT has also done research study that entails monitoring and streamlining the convergence of MGNREGA in other 4 districts of Gujarat i.e. Banaskantha, Dang, Kachchh and Sabarkantha.
The main objective of the study will be to review convergence work and analyze outcome of convergence work, with the following issues for consideration.
o Review of convergence plan/s and field realities
o Durability of assets, output and outcome of convergence
o Impact of convergence
o Major bottlenecks of convergence at all level
o Quantification of outcomes and value addition of MNREGA work
o Major lacuna in convergence
o Future scenarios

Capacity Building Services for SHGs


Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had funded for Gujarat Forestry Development Project Phase –II. Under this project the SHGs were formed by Sabarkantha Forest Division. Gujarat Forest Department gave the consultancy to the VIKSAT for holding the training for the Capacity Building of the SHGs. VIKSAT organized 10 Trainings in four forest range of Sabarkantha Social Forestry Division. Detail is as follows:

Risk Assessment for MCIs

VIKSAT has extended its expert service to Risk Management Solution (RMS), California, USA in carrying out a catastrophe risk mange assessment in Gujarat. The company offers technology and services for the management of insurance catastrophe risk associated with natural perils such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and windstorms, as well as products for weather derivatives and enterprise risk management. RMS helps organizations to design and promote risk reduction and mitigation strategies, emphasizing the need for positive risk reduction and mitigation actions before disaster strikes, as well as alternative means of financing and managing risk. RMS has carried out a Catastrophe Risk Assessments in two states in pilot basis in India, i.e. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. For Gujarat VIKSAT was the resource agency and the risk assessment study covered more than one hundred micro credit operating organizations, banks and non banking financial companies (NBFCs).

Community Needs Assessment

Adani Power Maharshtra Ltd appointed VIKSAT as a resource agency for carrying out a community need assessment study for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the villages that are located near the power plant that is under construction. Intensive fieldworks were undertaken in 14 villages and under service areas of Tiroda Municipal board. A comprehensive assessment report, a road map and a brief village action plan was submitted as part of the assignment.