Part of MYRADA’s strategy is ‘To recreate self-sustaining and environmentally clean habitat and the institutions to sustain it, based on a balanced perspective of the relationship between natural resources and the legitimate needs of people’
This strategy has led MYRADA to initiate interventions that aid the poor to protect and nurture their natural resources. At the same time, these affect their livelihood strategies. Hence the attempt has been to balance between protection of natural resources while ensuring that livelihood security is not compromised.
Activities that prevent environmental degradation and promote growth of natural resources include watershed management, nonfarm livelihoods, environmental sanitation, ground water/roof water harvesting, restoration of traditional water bodies, promotion of organic and low external input farming, renewable energy sources. Activities in this domain are closely linked to those in the livelihoods domain; indeed it is difficult to separate the two – every intervention in the area of natural resources/environment is intended to and certainly impacts livelihoods.
Our earliest experience with people’s institutions in watershed management was in Gulbarga. What started off as an effort to enhance productivity in rainfeddrylands yielded valuable lessons in processes for engaging communities in management of natural resources. In a watershed, the poor and the rich have to necessarily work together and as in any other situation their interests often conflict. Once again MYRADA realised that the poor have to first be organised and enabled so as to articulate and communicate their priorities. The experiences of the Participative Integrated Development of Watersheds (PIDOW) can be found here (links to RMS papers – 4, 20 and 24).MYRADA achieved a significant breakthrough in this area and as with the SAGs, watershed groups have been mainstreamed in Indian State policy for natural resource management.
As with livelihoods, MYRADA has actively promoted people’s institutions in the management of natural resources. Over the years, MYRADA has placed special emphasis on the needs of small and landless farmers living in watersheds. Most watershed programmes tend to focus on development of land resources. The landless families therefore do not gain anything from such programmes. Hence when MYRADA plans watershed programme, funds are earmarked for developing livelihoods of the small, marginal farmers and landless families.
Today there are over 608 watershed institutions in MYRADA. These institutions have been strengthened to manage their own resources.
Current projects in livelihood include watershed management, promotion of soil and moisture conservation practices, interventions to increase agricultural productivity, regeneration of waste lands. As has been mentioned before, livelihoods are closely linked to natural resources. Hence interventions also include activities aimed to improve livelihoods especially of the small and marginal farmers and landless families.
For details of ongoing Natural Resource Management Projects please click here