Located in the Papagni river basin, the north eastern parts of the districts of Chikballapur and Kolar are characterised by a landscape of boulder strewn hills largely bereft of vegetation and which mostly fall in the forestland category, with grazing lands, revenue wastelands and small farms in the lower slopes and valleys. Cascading tanks that catered to irrigation and water needs of livestock for centuries in the past are a dominant feature, however the unbridled mining of groundwater for raising water-intensive crops at an annual rate of extraction that was double the replenishment has resulted in an alarming depletion of ground water table in the recent years.
In such drought-prone rain-fed areas, 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 rain-fed areas of Kolar and Chikballapur districts, 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.
National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)