The districts of Angul and Dhenkanal are situated in the central part of Orissa in the catchment of the Mahanadi and Brahmani rivers. Commons continue to remain central to the livelihoods of rural communities in these undulating terrains, with forests in the uplands helping retain soil moisture and improve the nutrient flow as a critical ecological function for the subsistence agriculture practiced by the rural communities in the lower reaches. The region is endowed with rich flora and fauna. In the face of rapid developments in mining and industry, this mineral rich landscape is facing increasing pressures and ecological threat.
In the given context, 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 Angul and Dhenkenal 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. Efforts of FES 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 for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)