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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-64: THE WATERSHED ASSOCIATION OF MAJIDPUR!


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The village Majidpur is located in Shameerpet mandal of Rangareddy district on the outskirts of Hyderabad. As a result of the real estate boom the lands of the villagers are in demand. They have been offered crores of rupees, but they will not oblige. “In the last five years the village has witnessed development through watershed activities. The groundwater table has risen and the village tank has filled up. We are able to cultivate two crops a year. We will not sell these lands to anybody,” said the villagers.

Until 2000, the rains were scanty. Agriculture suffered, making those who depended on it, jobless. They toiled in the city to earn their daily wages. In 2001, Integrated Wasteland Development Project officials selected this village for watershed development. It was identified as a model watershed. The NGO Spurthi was made responsible for the implementation of this project. They increased the villagers’ awareness of watershed development through kalajatha programmes, songs, wall writings and exposure visits.

Most of the villagers took part in a Participatory Rural Appraisal exercise. Using rangoli colours, farmers drew a village social map and a resource map. The resource map was utilised to explain the flow of the streams, ideal locations to construct structures, ways to channel water to their tanks, replenish groundwater, types of soils and methods to retain soil fertility.

The watershed association was formed. The association members elected the watershed committee and opened a bank account. When they received money they organised a village meeting. The villagers discussed the works that they wanted to undertake, especially the land treatment from ridge to valley, using the money they had received. A resolution was passed to involve farmers as user groups which would undertake all the works in the fields. It was also proposed that farmers would contribute 10% to the watershed development fund for maintenance of works when the watershed programme had ended.

Every gully in the village was treated by various structures such as gully controls, check dams, sunken ponds, farm ponds, field bunding etc. Towards the east of the village, a contour trench was built around the hill. This would control a sudden rush of water that eroded the fertile soil, and train the water to slowly seep into the ground and gradually enter the tank. The weak spots around the tank were also repaired to avoid future breaches. When the village tank filled with water the farmers cultivated two crops a year. The cattle also got enough water and people were happy.

With a significant rise in the water table the yield of rice has improved. The farmers now get 30 bags as against 20 bags they used to get.  Migration has declined. The poor who did not have land have been included in groups and are supported with loans.

“Because of this watershed project, there has been all round development in our village”, say the villagers.
  
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