Dungarpur used to be forest rich region with almost 64% of its region covered under the arid forests with a very rich wildlife. Pressures of industrialization, growth of population and to some extent the government negligence the forests depleted at alarming rates and created a drastic situation for the tribal community. The forest cove reduced to a meagre 4% in 1980s. There was a time, not very long ago, where the tribal would buy only three things from the market-Matchbox, clothes & salt, and the remainder came from forests, which is also called as Rookda Baswi, in the local dialect Wagdi, and can be translated as ‘tree God’. The dedication and understanding towards preservation of the forests was explored and exploited with identification of minor projects for forestry, where the community identified the lands that can be developed into community forest. The lost of these forests had definitely created a panic and chronic loss of resources amongst the local community. The community needed direction of how to re-grow what they had. After spending months talking to the communities, common wastelands amounting 3500 hectares were identified and developed as village level forests. 48 sites were replenished with plantations across 43 villages. About 19 lakh Saplings were planted on these lands. These micro forests ensured fuel, fodder and timber supplies to local communities therefore managed, maintained and protected by them. The community also started plantation on their private lands and ended up creating plantations in about 500 hectares of land, planting about 9 Lakh saplings across 58 villages. PEDO also organized many campaigns against the deforestation of exiting forests and apathy of government towards forest protection and regeneration. This has led to better vigilance and check on felling of trees in the forests.
PEDO has done three watershed development projects covering 22 villages, where all the following activities were carried out:
Gully plugging & loose stone check dams (1130 UNITS)
Earthen Dams (11 Dams)
Farm ponds (17 Ponds)
Water Harvesting & Ground water Recharge
Masonry Check Dams (13 Masonry Check Dams)
Sunken ponds (3 ponds)
well Recharging (45 Wells)
Renovation of old structures (3 Masonry Dams and 4 Earthen Dams)
Field Bunding and Terracing (500 Hectares)
Soil and water conservation projects aimed to prevent Loss of water and fertile soil due to a smaller but harsh Rainy season and conserving water for dry seasons, along with charging of depleting ground water. In this region it rains for about 3 months and the remaining period is Completely dry leading to single crop farming systems across the region. The topography of the region is hilly, leading to a massive erosion during the monsoon season. Against this back drop, the rain fed regions reveals a grim picture of poverty, water scarcity, rapid depletion of ground water table and fragile ecosystems. Land degradation due to soil erosion by wind and water, low rainwater use efficiency, high population pressure, acute fodder shortage, poor livestock productivity, underinvestment in water use efficiency, lack of assured and remunerative marketing opportunities and poor infrastructure are important concerns of enabling policies. The challenge in rain fed areas, therefore, is to improve rural livelihoods through participatory watershed development with focus on integrated farming systems for enhancing income, productivity and livelihood security in a sustainable manner. Rain fed situations would reveal that soil and water conservation, watershed development and efficient water management are the key to sustainable development of rain fed areas. The watershed approach has been accepted as a major theme for development of rain fed areas with a view to conserving natural resources of water, soil and vegetation by mobilizing social capital. Through treatment of land was done, from the hill tops till the bottom of the water flow streams.
Participatory approach to human and land resource Development (PAHAL) PROJECT- 1991-1995 PEDO was the lead NGO in the project aimed on the principles that PEDO has developed over years on how to reclaim the wasteland and create small forests as common property resources. The project, initially termed and Dungarpur Integrated wasteland development project or DIWDP, was sponsored by government of Rajasthan and SIDA. Aimed to generate green cover out of the common wastelands in the entire district. PEDO managed the project in 60 villages in two blocks. Besides forestry and wasteland development project also had components of agricultural and livestock development. The emphasis was on planned development of common wastelands with community involvement and ownership of the ‘developed regions.’
76 projects to rejuvenate lift irrigation units were undertaken by PEDO over three years. These projects benefitted 11,650 families and irrigated 5066 hectares of land. All of these projects were handed over to the community for maintenance and sharing of water.
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