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Here’s your evidence

Need evidence that bottom-up approaches work?

Not often do nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to have outside evaluators look at projects that were completed years ago.

But Thousand Currents partner Sahyog Sansthan was fortunate to have that opportunity in 2015 with the release of a book titled Rising to the Call: Good practices of climate change adaptation in India.

The book was published by the Center for Science and Environment, a think tank in New Delhi. It featured a case study of Sahyog’s past work in Udaipur, Rajasthan in northwestern India.

In 2001, Sahyog began working to revive the local churnot, or common pastureland, for 97 pastoral families, which are highly dependent on natural resources for their grazing animals. As climate change creates more drought conditions in the region, animals die without enough grazing land or grass. Without an alternative source of income, this has dire effects on people’s lives.

The churnot was to be managed by the panchayat [or village board] for the entire community’s benefit. But it had been degraded by drought, overgrazing, soil erosion, and misuse by local officials.

As you might imagine, Sahyog faced opposition at first. Community meetings about developing the 52-hectare plot of pastureland lasted for almost a year.

For the following three years, the community and Sahyog implemented the project. Together they strengthened monitoring, management, and accountability systems until Sahyog handed over full management of the common pastureland to the community in 2006.

The case study found that this long-term accompaniment approach by Sahyog was effective. Years later the developed area and the installed structures as a whole were found to be well-maintained by the villagers. The families had seen a quantitative and qualitative increase in grass production and the renewal of common pasturelands was being replicated in other villages.

A farmer in his 50s named Bhalaram who participated in the project said, “Last year it rained early and then for one and a half months there was no sign of rain…[the common pastureland] has become a fodder [grass] bank for us. We use it in times of crisis,” smiling at his use of the word ‘bank’ for pastureland.

Heera Lal Sharma, secretary of Sahyog, writes, “We are grateful to IDEX* for ‘flexible funding’ to Sahyog for our future work. This will enable us to enhance our creativity and capacity to seek the challenges of our work. It also gives us enough space to work according the needs and capacities of the communities of our area.

This post originally appeared on Medium.


*Thousand Currents changed its name from IDEX in 2016

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