Village Resource Centre

Capacity Building of Rural Communities of Jaisamand Catchment Area through Village Resource Centre
Background:

SPWD started working in Jaisamand catchment area since the 90’s with its partner organizations Prayatana Samiti (PS) and Hanuman Van Vikas Samiti (HVVS). Initially the work centered on Joint Forest Management, pastureland development moving towards watershed development. Subsequently a study on small water harvesting structures was done, which attempted to establish the link between the watersheds and the basin level data. A revised Han model was developed which provided an approximate fit between rainfall data in the catchment and inflows into the Jaisamand Lake. This formed the basis for discussions among civil society institutions and CBOs about the need for looking at various aspects of natural resource management at the basin and sub basin level in order to bring in synergy in the efforts of various NGOs, activists and CBOs. Over a period of four years, these interactions matured into three partners (also Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti – JJVS) deciding to collaborate in the Jhamri river basin for a study on Wastelands Characterisation. A few villages were selected outside the Jhamri basin but within Jaisamand Catchment area, that would bring to bear the different types of land use conditions within the basin (the sand mining area and the forest area). Apart from opening up possibilities at the macro level, these organisations will bring to bear different skills and dimensions to the initiative. Jhamri river basin is approximately 60, 000 hectares.

The three NGOs, Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, Prayatna Samiti and Hanuman Van Vikas Samiti between them work in 170 villages in Jaisamand and have facilitated the creation of 550 Self help groups with a total saving of over Rs 2 crores. Earlier the individual SHG groups were the basis for initiating discussion of NRM issues and forming the basis for the core leadership With the increase in numbers, the NGOs have thought of federating the SHG groups with the first task being to organize them in clusters. The regular monthly cluster level meetings and the meetings at the federation level have created the possibility of discussing the issues emerging at the cluster level and in some specific cases sub basin level as well.

The Jaisamand study results become the basis for discussing with the farmers about the larger level issues relating to specific regions of Jaisamand catchment area. Results of the study of wastelands characterization shared with farmer representatives from various parts of Jhamri river basin.

VRC – An innovative approach to capacitate the rural communities

The VRC concept has been evolved by ISRO and implemented through a partnership with RRSSC by integrating ISRO’s capabilities in satellite communications and satellite based earth observation to disseminate a variety of services emanating from the space systems and other Information Technology tools to address the changing and critical needs of rural communities. The VRC is a totally interactive VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) based network. The network uses one of the Extended C-band transponders of the INSAT-3A satellite. Users located at one node of this network can fully interact with others located at another node through video and audio links.The VRCs, aimed at serving essentially as Community Resource and addressing the dynamic and critical needs of rural communities in the most efficient ways are planned to be set up in selected backward, distant, remote, and vulnerable areas. Two facets of VRC have been envisaged. One is Governmental domain, wherein access to information/ decision support is provided to the functionaries of the Government at various levels. The second is the public domain, where information and services are accessed by community themselves. Bascically, it is a two-tier system – to be enabled through approriate network and herarchical database design to produce the target portfolio of services. In short, this is a service that can harnesses technology to enhance livelihoods and skills for rural prosperity. The best part of the VRCs is that it does not use technology because it is there, but uses it for a genuine advantage. People and their contexts decide the implementation of development interventions. The needs of the people and the best means to satisfy them determine the entire programme.

The information provided at VRC are in the form of geo-referenced land record, natural resources, suitable sites for drinking water as well as sites for recharging to replenish ground water, water harvesting, wastelands that can be reclaimed, rural employment creation, watershed, environment, infrastructure, alternate cropping pattern, and so on. By suitably blending the information derived from earth observation satellites with ground derived and weather related information, locale-specific community advisory services can be provided. Community based vulnerability and risk related information, provision of timely early warning and dissemination of severe weather related information can lead to reliable disaster management support at the village level. VRC can also provide a variety of services like tele-education, telemedicine, online decision support, interactive farmers’ advisory services, e-governance services, weather services and water management. By providing tele-education services, the VRC act as virtual community centric learning centres. At the same time, VRC also provide connectivity to speciality hospitals thus bringing the services of expert doctors closer to the villages.

In addition, VRC will facilitate access to spatial information on important subjects like land use/land cover, soil and ground water prospects which can enable the farmers to get support in taking important decisions based on their query. Besides, VRC will enable online interaction between the local farmers and agricultural scientists. Provision of information on many governmental schemes, location and farming system specific action plans based on weather, community specific advice on soil and water conservation are the other services rendered by VRC.

SPWD and Prayatna Samiti agreed to develop a centre at Bambora to establish a VRC with support of DOS. This centre visualized as a common platform to share learnings, discuss issues/ problems and identify solutions with the help of appropriate information/ data and technical guidance from expert through satellite technology. VRC is located at Bambora Village with Prayatna Samiti. It has been set up in a newly constructed building (two rooms as one hall having electric & water facilities. The advance computers with its accessories & other required furniture have also been provided. The VRC is centrally located and right now serving to the people of 23 villages to get the respective information in time.

All the ground level information [regarding Agriculture, Health, Education, Land Use (Land/ Water/ Forest/ Pasture land/ Wastelands etc.), Employment, Migration, Market , Govt. Schemes, Banks, people & people’s institutions (SHGs, Watershed committees)] and the larger Data base such as Imageries, Census, Geology, Weather pattern etc provided by ISRO will be put in computer by the centre. After collection of information, it will be processed, analyzed and will be presented to villagers in a user-friendly form by the VRC.

The following datasets / information is available at VRC:

Category 1 – Area Profile:

  • Area fact sheet.
  • Niche and opportunities.
  • Successful development initiatives.

Category 2 – Basic needs:

  • Agriculture /Farming – Best farming practice, crop disease, Fertilizers, Agro Forestry etc.
  • Animal Husbandry – cattle rearing, common disease veterinary services etc.
  • Drinking water – Sources of safe drinking water, Purification.
  • Education – Educational Facilities, Non formal education, Vocational Education, Distance.
  • Health – Health facilities, Basic Hygiene, Nutrition, first Aid, Child Health, women Health, Common Diseases, Family Planning, Doctors Advice.

Category 3 – Government Information

  • Government Schemes – for various groups (Child, girl child, Youth, Women, Handicapped, SC, ST, OBC, Old)
  • Sector wise – Agriculture, Education, Health etc.
  • Forms, Certificates, Land records, BPL List, Voter List, Employment Opportunities, Licenses & permits, Contact Government, Department wise citizen’s charter.

Objectives of the VRC initiative are:

  1. To generate advisories on agriculture, land and water management to better utilize the available resources and to mitigate the negative impacts. This aims mainly on maximizing the economic output from the available resources. Existing land use and land cover pattern and planning for better and optimum land use pattern can be planned with these informations enabling better productivity results.
  2. Providing enhanced livelihood opportunities with wider dissemination of information for greater economic growth.
  3. Ensure greater access to information on land, water, soil etc so as to educate and empower the local communities for greater conservation and sustainable utilization of these resources. The accessibility of information also will improve the capability of the rural communities for better development planning and ensure equitable bargaining power in a skewed social system.
  4. To ensure and provide linkages with various development initiatives. To act as a catalyst for ensuring transparency in all sectors of rural development. The information and communication capabilities will breath a new life in the level of transparency in the public sector.
  5. To promote a farmers forum in the catchment area through organising farmers and livestock keepers.
The VRC provide help on

  • Spontaneous flow of information on NRM, agriculture, animal husbandry, rural livelihoods, health, education, etc., to the grass-root-level.
  • It will empower the poor and needy as they will also have an access to these.
  • Spread awareness on various issues of equality and rural livelihood.
  • Inter linking of development process.
  • Above all empowerment of the people through awareness and dissemination of knowledge as ‘Knowledge is power’.

Training Programms at VRC

Trainings for Agriculture Management

Objectives

  1. To identify location specific needs of farming community for farming system based agricultural development.
  2. To draw plans for production based system activities to be undertaken by farmers/ultimate users.
  3. To coordinate efforts being made by various line departments, NGOs, farmers organizations and allied institutions to strengthen research extension-farmers linkages in the area and to promote coordination between various technical departments.
  4. To facilitate the empowerment of farmers/producers through assistance for mobilization, organization into associations, cooperatives etc. for their increased participation in planning, marketing, technology dissemination and agro-processing etc.
  5. To facilitate market interventions for value addition to farm produce.

Trainings for Natural Resources Management

Objectives

  1. Provides opportunities for communities to be involved in planning process and management of natural resources.
  2. Provides developmental capabilities for water resources management affecting the catchment area, in partnership with state and local communities and incorporates ecosystem management.
  3. Provides leadership in the management, protection, and use of forested area.
  4. Advances the communities capabilities to access clean, efficient, reliable, equitable, and cost-effective energy services.
  5. Manages all aspects of common and private land and administers grazing systems.
  6. Gathers and disseminate the satellite data of the catchment area.

Trainings for Self Help Groups

Objectives

  1. Development of strong, cohesive, Self-help Women Groups, through inculcation of the spirit of Mutual Help, Self-help and team spirit.
  2. Reduced vulnerability to crisis by inculcating habit of regular savings.
  3. Getting out of money-lender’s clutches, by regular savings & internal rotation of savings.
  4. Making SHGs credit worthy by making SHGs adopt principles of financial discipline (of timely savings and prompt loan repayments).
  5. Improved access of SHG members to various governmental, development schemes and bank credit, by forging sustainable linkages of SHGs with banks, Govt. departments, etc.
  6. Enable access the power of collective action through formation of Womens’ Federations at various levels.
  7. High degree of self-reliance through building of capacity of women to handle administration of SHG affairs on their own.
  8. Greater participation and decision-making in local democratic institutions like Panchayats through participation in Gram.