GIS for Empowerment of Grass Root Level NGOs and Rural Communities

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the key enabler and a vital component of the new knowledge based economy and information revolution. It is a major factor in economic growth and increasing productivity. India is increasingly integrating ICT into its national development plans and adopting strategies for its widespread promotion in all the spheres of economic activities. There is a need to ensure that the benefit of the ICT percolates to all the different socio-economic strata and to the grass roots of the rural India. The rural areas in India cannot be compared with its urban areas, where needs and service requirements are at a very different level. With poor existing infrastructure in the rural areas, delivery of services of essential requirements becomes in itself formidable task in the villages spread out in every type of agro-ecological zones.
To meet the challenge of handling of large data, people’s participation and local resource planning, geographical information system (GIS) offers easy and distinct possibility.  The application of GIS is helpful in combining information about the location of features, natural as well as man-made, in a given area with other kinds of information to generate location-based data. This is possible by integrating different kinds of maps. The most important advantage of GIS is to make information visual thereby enhancing transparency and encouraging participation by people. GIS is also useful in database preparation, decision-making, monitoring and impact assessment. It will have distinct advantage in improving efficiency, providing equity, community participation and transparency. GIS offers solution for social, rural & urban development planning and management. It provides an opportunity for panchayats and other local bodies to use it for local development.
Looking at the importance of the ICT and GIS in development process in general and natural resources management in particular, SPWD is aiming to set up a Geographical Information System (GIS) Service Cell at its Udaipur office, this GIS cell will be linked with Village Resource Centre (VRC) at Bambora, established by SPWD with partner organisation Prayatna Samiti and in collaboration with Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre (RRSSC), Jodhpur and National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad. This initiative will reach the un-reached, un-served and underserved areas more effectively by using state-of-the-art high-tech Information and Communication Technology through our three partner NGOs based in the region (Prayatna Samiti, Hanuman Van Vikas Samiti and Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti).
Agriculture and animal husbandry productions are mainstay of the people in the region. There is considerable scope for agriculture development by utilizing available water resource for irrigation By way of proper land and water management; crop production of the area can be increased significantly. Desiltation and renovation of wells and water bodies are very much required. In addition, afforestation on wastelands will boost economic growth and livestock production. There is scope for economic growth based on agriculture and forest produce. Infrastructural facilities like roads, education and health centres are poorly developed. The recurrent droughts in the region poses serious problems on humans, livestock and forests and leads to water and food scarcity. Unemployment is significantly high. Education and health facilities are improperly distributed. Power supply is inadequate and has not reached in many areas.

The aim of the initiative is to build up capacity of local NGOs for developmental planning in Jaisamand catchment area through application of modern science and technology. It is designed to provide the local NGO planners and implementers sensitive tools and techniques for rapid information retrieval, analysis and integration of multiple data sets in the regional matrix. This will help them in arriving at informed planning decisions through optimisation exercises based on convergence of traditional geographical knowledge and data obtained through application of modern technology of geographic information system (GIS), remote sensing (RS) and global positioning system (GPS). Three basic targets are conceived

  • Setting up of a GIS cell
  • Creation of digital database and
  • Training of personnel to own and operate the centre in an effective manner after completion of the project.
The main focuses are described below:
  • Documentation and appraisal of natural resources.
  • Documentation and analysis of the present status of utilisation of natural resources along with identification of constraints and scope of exploitation of untapped resources.
  • Analysis of the problems of resource depletion and environmental/ ecological degradation.
  • Documentation and analysis of demographic and socio-economic scenario, analysis of man – environment equations and assessment of the quality of life.
  • Training of personnel at NGO level for adoption of the new technology.