Community Participation in Watershed

The below study reflects various features of Ghaghari village Khunti District, Jharkhand. The study tries to figure out the issues and challenges in watershed community participation in the village. It effects migration, education and environment as well. Rural area is a source of richness also in the sector of tourism and we can also promote recreational activities. Watershed Management program focuses to achieve conservation and development of a watershed, to improve its ecological well-being and thereby enhance its productivity and life supporting systems for the betterment of the people residing and their environment.” In addition, the watershed program is expected to achieve “more equitable distribution of the benefits of land, water resources and bio-mass development”. To achieve this, it is very necessary to acknowledge the women’s contributions to the village economy. The ‘disadvantaged’ status of women has arisen from gender imbalances in the distribution of productive resources between men and women. It is important therefore that women are involved in decisions related to the control and management of resources in watershed projects. With their knowledge and experience of resource management, women can play a significant role in project implementation. Furthermore, women’s involvement in management will ensure sustainable livelihoods for women and more equitable distribution of benefits between men and women.

Water Scracity: Picture Credit: Anunay Kumar

The goals of the study were:

•  To make people aware about Environmental laws. So, they are able to understand about the linkages between environment and human well-being.

•  Make them understand about the significance of conserving biodiversity.

•  To train them to use the resources which are locally available within the vicinity of the village.

•  Provide some power and uniformity to Village Development Committee so they can be motivated. The community in turn should also be encouraged to participate in all the activities and cultural gatherings of the villages.

Challenges Encountered

An analogy of the household that is useful, is that of the two-wheeled bullock cart. It moves ahead only if both the wheels are of the same dimension. The cart represents a family and the husband and wife, who bear equal responsibility, each represent a wheel. If the wheel which represents the woman is much smaller than the other, the family and in fact the entire village community makes no headway. Only when the women are encouraged and respected can she take her place as an equal; only then will both shoulders (wheels of the household) be equal and the family progress. Along with the family, the village and the community also need to develop.

Men in Khunti district (Jharkhand) said that they preferred to marry brides who were able to share their knowledge of agricultural practices. One man told how his wife had taught him to space the sowing of different crops for better yields. However, since women rarely own land, they are not recognized by policy makers as farmers; the term ‘farmer’ is usually treated as masculine.

Shramdan: Picture Credit: Anunay Kumar

The community was actively in what they call “Shramdaan” means a voluntary contribution involving physical effort. It is a way of helping your community and contributing to help and change the environment around you for the better.  Shramdaan has two words Shram-Labour and Daan– Contribution/Donation. Thus, it is a voluntary contribution which requires physical effort.

Volunteering is the best word that describes shramdaan.

Each family has to equally contribute towards the watershed efforts both manually and financially.

AND WHAT ABOUT MIGRATION?

In our culture, its highly common for people from socially and economically backward regions to move towards greener pastures for the sake of employment/ livelihood. This tendency has been largely curbed due to the community’s active participation towards watershed practise as it has provided a means of livelihood to these prospective migrants. This in turn somewhat lessens the pressure on larger cities due to the heavy influx of rural population looking for means of livelihood, all this while there are enough resources available within there own areas for them to sustain a decent enough livelihood.

The Naxal factor

The central governments that have so far been in charge of running the country cannot be completely blamed for the backwardness and exclusion of major tribal belts. These areas have been suffering at the hands of erstwhile Naxals or radical communists who have been up in arms against any sort of government interference in these areas. This has led to several welfare schemes and subsidies provided by the government not reaching the beneficiaries residing in these areas. Articles 5 and 6 have a key role to play in creating the above circumstances. The locals were earlier completely brainwashed against this government which they were told only worked for the benefit of the rich and pompous residing in big cities. These issues and also the geographical disadvantages have hindered the development and inclusion efforts directed towards this tribal population.

If seen closely the scenic locales of places like Khunti in Jharkhand and other tribal dominated regions are devoid of any sort of tourism endeavours since the Naxalite issues discourages tourists, who avoid visiting these places fearing for their safety.

Author Profile: Anunay Kumar studied Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Management at the Xavier Institute of Development Action and Studies, Jabalpur (MP). The article draws from the study carried out as part of an internship project as part of his study program.

About Auther:

Editor in chief @GreenCleanGuide.com

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