About the Implementing organization
Gram Sabha of Payvihir, Upatkheda, Nayakheda, Khatijapur and Kumbhi Wagholi
Year of establishment: 2012
Type of organization: Indigenous group or organization
The Gram Sabha of 5 villages, namely Payvihir, Upatkheda, Nayakheda, Khatijapur and Kumbhi Wagholi of Achalpur region in Amravati district, Maharashtra, have rejuvenated and regenerated over 1,200 ha of their barren forest land in the last five years through convergence of various laws and local institutions managing these resources. In turn, they are also addressing the issues of livelihoods, poverty, governance. Women are being empowered to lead the processes of fair price food distribution systems in 3 of the 5 villages. While other villages are struggling to meet their day-to-day needs and plans, these villages have organised themselves with support of KHOJ, a voluntary organisation working to empower the communities using various laws like Forest Rights Act 2006, National Employment Guarantee Act, Biological Diversity Act, etc, and changing the way they manage their natural resources.
Type of Action
Ecosystem restoration︱Sustainable use of natural resources︱Advocacy for land and water rights︱Nature-based alternatives to a carbon-intensive economy: green entrepreneurship
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods︱Food security︱Education︱Partnerships
It has led to the process of restoration of 1,200 ha of degraded forest area and helped the survival of native species of flora and fauna which would otherwise be lost. The density of the forest and the return of the wildlife to the region has increased with the protection and conservation offered by the communities.
The communities have also realized the value of conservation, and hence, are shifting to other means of fuelwood, protecting forests from open grazing and thus managing their resources in a sustainable manner.
1. With collective management of their forests and natural resources
2. With controlled grazing, planned plantation activities
3. Continuous efforts to prevent soil moisture run off
4. Shifting to climate resilient crops
5. Working towards regeneration of their lost forests
6. Use of renewable energy
7. Awareness of the changing climatic conditions and hence constant efforts to create awareness on the need to plant saplings, protect and help each sapling into a tree
8. Reduced use of fuel wood from the forests
9. Working to revive water harvesting structures in the forests and the villages
10. Planting native species of plants that are useful to support the forests, people’s livelihoods, as well as other birds and animals in the forests
Sustainable Development Impacts
1 Restoration of forests- the communities through their efforts are helping restore and regenerate their degraded forest areas in a manner that helps people earn livelihoods and are also protect their forests. They use various laws that gives them rights over natural resources and the opportunity to convert these natural resources into sources of incomes, thus impacting both their regeneration as well as the income from families. In addition, activities like dairy farming is being promoted to add to the local income. Their efforts have prevented distressed migration.
2. They work to improve education of their children through monitoring their local schools & providing better educational opportunities to children. Apart from school education, students also participate in environment education programmes that helps build their relationship with forests and biodiversity.
3. In this process, they also improve their village governance and also partner with governmental agencies for other programs.
RESILIENCE, ADAPTABILITY, AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY
The fact that communities have collectively resolved to manage their natural resources was the strongest factor that helped them to respond to various challenges. In addition, the support of the state government to aid the community efforts through convergence of other resources has helped them address their other needs of development, such as access to proper legal documents, added sources of livelihoods, regular source of employment, support for the activities in the forests, etc.The urge for collective action is what makes them stronger and able to resolve a lot of their challenges.The initiative helps to reduce inequalities within the communities by providing everyone equal opportunity to participate in the process of open and collective decision making. Proactive steps are taken to address the needs of the weaker sections of the community. The process also provides for affirmative action with positive support given to those in special need.
The initiative helps to reduce inequalities within the communities by providing everyone equal opportunity to participate in the process of open and collective decision making. Proactive steps are taken to address the needs of the weaker sections of the community. The process also provides for affirmative action with positive support given to those in special need.
Women have been a part of the entire process at the village level. Women were outspoken and put forth a lot of their challenges related to access to government fair price shops or other legal entitlements. Slowly they were able to take control of their fair price shop, form Selfhelp Groups, and also work together in the entire process of conservation of the forests. Today women are part of the process and take equal responsibility, when required.
These villages are inhabited by indigenous communities and other traditional forest dwellers. Most of these activities are led by youths and women from the indigenous communities who otherwise are kept outside the decisionmaking processes. Elders participate in the process by sharing their experience.
They have not just empowered youths but have also helped them overcome any difference between groups based on caste and class and have helped them work together.
Not just one village community but now all the villages collectively pull their energy together to address any challenges posed to even one of the villages and this differentiates their efforts.
The initiative has a potential to be up scaled to all deforested areas where communities are in search of improved livelihoods. These villages have served as examples to many villages from difference parts of the state like Thane, Yavatmal, Nandurbar in Maharashtra where villagers have initiated similar activities but based on their own local context.
The principles used in the process of conservation can be upscaled in any context where communities are willing to conserve their commons. This experience also picks up from the principles of Elinor Ostrom’s Governance of Commons and moves ahead to search for its own meaning of what these principles mean for them.
The programme is replicable only to the extent where the communities have been granted such rights as entitlements or where countries are willing to grant these entitlements and where in the communities are dependent on these for their livelihoods. In other areas, this may work differently, however, the commitment of the communities is the core to success of this process.
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