Exploring Options for Community-Based Natural Resource Management

Background

The depletion of natural resources impacts individuals and communities in various ways. In rural India, it is often the poorest communities that depend directly on natural resources for their livelihoods, for example, through rain-fed agriculture, livestock rearing, or collection of minor forest produce. Therefore, sustainable use of natural resources, which means using resources such as land, forests, and water in a way that there is enough to meet our needs as well as those of future generations, is central to ensuring viable and profitable livelihoods for communities in these areas.


Introduction and Objectives

Ensuring that natural resources are used sustainably requires action at various levels: local, state, national, and international. Through this project, which is supported by Global March Against Child Labour (Global March), TERI sought to identify:

  • Key challenges to sustainable natural resource use, and
  • Actions to be taken at the community level to address these challenges in three states of India - Jharkhand, Karnataka, and Rajasthan.

The project takes forward Global March's current engagement in 27 villages spread across the three states. The organization has been working in these villages with Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) on its child-friendly village intervention 'Bal Mitra Gram ' to eliminate child labour and promote education, through a rights-based approach. Keeping in mind the linkages between environment protection and overall child well-being through this project, Global March and BBA have decided to work on addressing environmental issues through the 'Bal Mitra Gram' intervention for the first time.

Key Activities

The project started in February 2016 and was completed in August 2016. Three key activities were carried out under the project: (i) field work and creation of an assessment report on local environmental issues in 27 villages across three states - Jharkhand, Karnataka, and Rajasthan; (ii) creation of a training manual on community-based natural resource management to be used by youth groups created under BBA's 'Bal Mitra Gram' intervention; and (iii) conducting training workshops for local youth on how to use the training manual to take action within the community to address natural resource challenges.

The field work for this project was carried out in February and March 2016, and an assessment report was prepared on the basis of key findings in May 2016. The training manual was developed in July 2016 and training workshops were held in July and August 2016.

I. Field Work and Assessment Report

A questionnaire was developed to conduct focus group discussions and key person interviews, and a pilot study was carried out in Alwar, Rajasthan to test the questionnaire and to make the necessary changes. Post this, research teams visited the 27 villages selected under the study to understand issues such as current natural resource availability, key challenges in ensuring sustainable use of natural resources, and possible avenues for engagement of youth and the wider community in the management of natural resources. An assessment report was developed to provide an overview of findings and to outline community-based solutions to address key issues.

II. Training Manual

Based on the local issues and solutions identified by researchers, a training manual was developed for local youth to carry out activities related to community-based natural resource management. These activities include raising awareness about natural resource depletion, facilitating discussions surrounding equitable use of natural resources, approaching government and other agencies to ensure that local communities benefit from resource use in the area, and organizing the community to conduct tree plantation drives, or construct water harvesting structures, among others.

III. Training of Trainers

Finally, trainings were conducted in each state to train the local youth on how to use the training manual. In addition, one training workshop for BBA staff was conducted in Delhi. Approximately 30-40 members of Yuva Mandals (youth groups) created under the 'Bal Mitra Gram' intervention attended each state-level training workshop. Participatory training methods such as role play, presentations, letter writing etc., were used during the workshops.

Duration: February - August 2016

Key Stakeholders and Beneficiaries

  • Youth groups, children's groups, and women's groups which have been established by BBA as part of its Bal Mitra Gram intervention
  • Staff of BBA (including field staff) and Global March

Supported by Global March Against Child Labour with Financial Support from Robert Bosch Stiftung

Achievement and Outcomes

The primary outcome of the project was to raise awareness about:

  • The impact of natural resource degradation on livelihoods, and
  • Actions that can be taken at the community level to address issues relating to natural resource degradation.

At the end of the training, TERI also provided inputs to Global March on developing an action plan for each state. One major issue was identified per state, and the local staff developed a context-specific plan of activities for the next six months. This included tree plantation, exploring options for forest-based livelihoods, and construction of low-cost water harvesting structures, among others.

Posted on: 19 January 2017