What will my contribution be spent on? And where?
Your contribution will be expended towards ecological restoration of the rural landscape. It will be used specifically for planting species for revegetation of common lands in the villages where FES has a presence. The planting of one sapling costs Rs. 20 (labour and cost of sapling). Your contribution will be a part of larger efforts at the village level for ecological restoration. While revegetation is complemented by soil and moisture conservation efforts, village communities are mobilized to craft institutions for judicious use and management of natural resources.
How transparent is the process?
Funds are channelled to village institutions which use it for the execution of planned activities. In each village, the utilization of the funds is recorded under a separate ledger account, so that it is clearly traceable. The books of accounts of the village institution are audited on an annual basis. All transactions between FES and the village institutions are done through demand drafts or cheques. The activities being implemented are monitored and reviewed periodically by FES staff and community representatives. The expenses incurred thereby are also audited and reconciled with the organisation's accounts. Village-wise reports in the form of grant utilization certificates can be found on our website (http://fes.org.in/images/guc-2009-10.pdf). Regular internal audits are conducted by Thakur, Vaidyanath Aiyar & Co., Mumbai and statutory audits are conducted by C.C. Chokshi & Co., Ahmedabad.
How is the progress tracked?
The activities implemented by a village institution are recorded in the books of records in each village and the financial transactions are recorded in their books of accounts and audited annually. FES shall display an activity report on a quarterly basis, giving the physical units of activities implemented and amounts utilized during the quarter.
We have developed a comprehensive framework to monitor and study ecological, social and economic impact of our interventions. The survival percentages of saplings planted in each village are recorded regularly. In some of our studies, we are assisted by our GIS and Remote Sensing Facility. In select locations, we also monitor key variables on social, economic and ecological aspects over an extended period of time. Detailed documentation of the impact of FES' work in different locations can be found on our website http://fes.org.in.
The details of the grants received and their utilization in different villages will be made public on our website. If the contribution is significant, we could custom design a reporting system to suit the grant.
What difference will this make in that village?
Revegetation provides a number of benefits such as increased availability of biomass (fuelwood, fodder, timber etc) and biodiversity, improved groundwater regimes, increased water harvesting capacity which aids helps increase the area under double crop, improved agricultural productivity due to transfer of nutrients, and improvement in livestock production due to increased availability of fodder and water.
The following are some instances of village communities realizing benefits from ecorestoration activities:
- In Thoria watershed in Rajasthan, soil and moisture conservation activities led to an increase of 10 feet in the water column over a period of ten years, leading to an increase in the area under double crop from 453 ha to 859 ha.
- The total value of benefits of common land development in Anand, Gujarat is estimated as INR 0.33 million per hectare, which is more than 8 times the investment. This has been calculated through natural resource accounting techniques.
- A study was conducted by FES on the issue of the Commons, covering 3000 households in 100 villages across 7 states in the country. According to the finding of the study, around 98% of all the households accessed common land and water resources for agricultural, livestock and domestic requirements. The value of the products so accessed constituted around 23% of the net household income.
- Increased availability of water and fodder from the Commons prompted a village in Shajapur district, Madhya Pradesh to purchase milch animals, leading to an increase in their income by Rs. 3.29 lakh per annum from dairying. In addition, custard apples and Carissa caranda worth Rs. 78000/- were harvested from the common lands.
- The construction of cattle ponds with water holding capacities of 22 million litres across the project area in Chittoor and Anantapur districts, Andhra Pradesh meant that water was available throughout the summer in those villages, thereby preventing migration of cattle, otherwise a common phenomenon there.
- Three project villages in Kolar district, Karnataka in a show of solidarity and support shared grass worth Rs. 32,000/- valued at current market rates from their protected common lands with their neighbouring villages reeling from the effects of the drought.
- In a fifteen year longitudinal study in a watershed in Bhilwara district, Rajasthan, it was found that increased availability of water and fodder led to an increase in milk procurement from 1.74 lakh litres to 6.46 lakh litres, adding Rs. 13,000/- to the gross annual household income. 675 households started to grow vegetables as a third crop adding a further Rs. 2500/- to their income.
- Exercises conducted in a village in Panchmahals district, Gujarat to take stock of the benefits accrued over years of efforts revealed that the standing biomass is worth Rs. 30 lakh. The improvements in soil characteristics and resultant carbon sequestration outweigh the investments by about four times over a span of 15 years.
- Protection of the grass 'vidi' enabled each of the 270 households from two villages in Dahod district, Gujarat to receive 900 kilograms of grass each which led them to save an amount of at least Rs. 900/- each that otherwise would have had to be spent on purchasing fodder. In an area with a predominantly tribal population, high levels of poverty, and a significant proportion of the income being spent on medicines, this is no mean contribution.
- Three years of protection of their common lands by 1500 households across thirty-four habitations in Udaipur District, Rajasthan resulted in a two-fold increase in the grass production from these lands. The value of the grass so available would, at the existing market rate of Rs. 1/- per kg, add upto Rs. 1300/- worth of grass per household.
- Protection of forests of the catchment area and the construction of a water harvesting structure in the downstream enabled 54 households of a village in Angul district, Odisha to cultivate in the rabi season earning them benefits valued at Rs. 52,000.
How does it help the cities?
Many of the demands for resources in urban areas, such as drinking water, agricultural produce etc. are sourced from rural areas, which in turn are dependent on their natural resource base (soil, water, vegetation etc.) for continued production of these services. Forests, in particular, and vegetation in general, hold the key to maintaining and improving the natural resource base in the rural areas. They not only provide biomass for meeting fuel wood, fodder and timber needs, but also have a critical role to play in maintaining the water resource regime in these watersheds. The proposed initiative is an opportunity for engaging people in urban areas to support activities that strengthen the natural resource base in the rural and hinterland areas along with local institutional mechanisms to sustain them and indirectly sustain the flow of resources from these areas to the nearby urban areas.
How else can I help? How can I know more about your work?
You can visit the FES website at http://fes.org.in for more information about FES' work and how you can help. Any monetary contribution to FES is eligible for income tax exemption under Section 80(G). If you are interested in visiting one of our project areas, you could contact us at the addresses given in the website.
What do you get out of this?
FES implements a variety of projects across the eleven project locations, with 240 full time staff, composed of specialists in social science, management, civil engineering, ecology, geology, wild life biology etc. from eminent institutes like IRMA, TISS, XISS, IIFM, IIT, FRI etc. and local field animators. It plans to utilize the funds available under this initiative to help village communities fulfil some part of their plans, which may not be covered under ongoing projects. At FES, some of us feel for nature conservation, some for poverty alleviation and some for both.