In south-eastern parts of Rajasthan, the area stretching across the Mandalgarh, Mandal, Asind and Raipur blocks of Bhilwara district and the Pisangan and Masuda blocks of Ajmer district has an undulating topography characterized by vast stretches of grazing lands and common lands. Grasslands occupy large stretches of the landscape with 11.5% of total geographical area under permanent pastures and 7% under forest cover. The vegetation is characterized by dry deciduous and tropical thorny scrub forests. Being a drought-prone area with poor average annual rainfall, rain-fed agriculture and animal husbandry are the major livelihood options.
In drought-prone rain-fed areas such as these, the integrated watershed development approach finds value in strengthening livelihoods and ecological health, and is a means of ensuring holistic development by addressing the micro drivers of change in a comprehensive manner. These micro drivers of change (soil and nutrient properties, biomass availability, water availability, land use, social and institutional capability, technological adoption, patterns of demand and supply, natural resource usage, economic status and energy availability) influence and are in turn influenced by the varied livelihood strategies (agriculture, livestock, production of other materials, labour and migration, biomass, energy, landscape and environmental management and agro-ecosystem function) prevalent in the rural landscapes.
This project involves watershed planning over a few thousand hectares of land in the Dhamania and Jahazpur, Bhilwara district, which include both off-farm and on-farm interventions to improve the productivity of farm lands as well as the commons. Enhanced biomass and water availability through appropriate soil and moisture conservation measures, and revegetation of common lands would go a long way in boosting agricultural productivity and animal husbandry. Further, this project aims to assist communities in effectively integrating agriculture and natural resource management, and regulating the demand for biomass and water through rules, regulations and mechanisms evolved by community institutions at village and inter-village levels. FES' efforts are directed towards building and strengthening the institutional processes at the habitation, village, Panchayat and federation levels to set in place processes of local self governance. Special focus is on enhancing the participation of community members, especially the poor and marginalised, in the planning and implementation of watershed development work in the region.
Government of Rajasthan