In the context of degraded ecosystems, poverty and unseeing policy, the governance mechanisms of the upper Kolab catchment of Koraput district are badly affected. With increasing population pressure and diversion of forest and common lands for non-agricultural uses, the pressure on common property resources is increasing and inversely, productivity of the land declining. Shorter cycles in shifting cultivation, weaker linkages between forest and agriculture production systems, increasing fragmentation of land holdings - all pose a threat to the subsistence agriculture practised by the tribal communities. Inequitable land ownership patterns, unviable land-use practices, along with a weak appreciation of local governance institutions (in which the right to manage natural resources is vested) are some of the major challenges.
The project is an attempt to foster the evolution of a local vision geared towards conservation-oriented development while building upon local traditional systems. Further, it strives to provide a meso-level governance platform for issue-based interactions and landscape-level planning involving multiple actors and agencies of the area as an integral part of the design to facilitate better implementation and to promote conservation ethic in the region.
Improved vegetative cover over a few hundred hectares of uplands including forest and common lands would impact agricultural production over a few thousand hectares of land through appropriate soil and water conservation measures and water harvesting structures. On-farm and off-farm activities for improving resilience of livelihoods would shift the pressure from commons and/or redistribute pressure on resources towards resilience for better ecosystem functions and provisioning services. Furthermore, effective and equitable natural resource management both at habitation and regional levels through commonly agreed rules, regulations and functional mechanisms, and in manner that is conducive to the poor and disadvantaged groups, would help bring about a fair balance in conservation, access and extraction.
The project seeks to amply leverage the NREGA and other public funds towards natural resources development, and towards this end, assist in improving the capacities of Panchayats and Pallisabhas to deal with the governance of natural resources, including the planning and use of programmatic funds such as NREGA. It aims to foster convergence in thought and action among line departments, civil society organisations and other stakeholders for effective delivery of functions on community-based natural resources management towards improving the livelihoods of the rural community.
Concern Worldwide India