The livelihoods of tribal communities in Mandla are dependent upon small-scale farming, fishing and forest produce. Diversity of species and ecosystem services provides them with fuel, food, fodder, housing material, medicine and spiritual sustenance. In the last few years, erratic rainfall has made crop planning go awry and decreasing agro-biodiversity leaves little alternatives for food security. Forests are also under climatic stresses like droughts. Demographic pressure and low literacy levels combined with lower asset base further decreases adaptive capacities.
The project aims to restore the ecology of degraded forested landscapes, by improving the biodiversity of these landscapes and reducing soil erosion, as well as by strengthening collective efforts of village institutions. This will provide a greater variety of livelihood choices and thus sustain food security. Despite the challenge of erratic rainfall, the project also aims to improve the overall gains from agriculture.
Forest degradation, loss of biodiversity and soil erosion are immediate threats to adaptive capacities of natural resource dependent communities in rain-fed areas like in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. Addressing these issues and strengthening village institutions will reduce the vulnerability of the communities.