Watershed development activity involves conservation, regeneration and effective use of natural resources like land, water, plants animals and human beings within a particular area / watershed. Watershed development activity brings the balance closer in the environment between natural resources on the one side and human and other living organism beings on the other. Watershed development is an important activity to make use of the dry and waste land areas through best possible efforts by integrating rural development ctivities.
The main objectives of Watershed development activity is to ensure in-situ soil and water conservation and re-greening of wastelands through horticulture, cultivation of medicinal plants and fodder crops. Participatory Watershed Development and Integrated Waste Land Development are the major components of the scheme. Coodu Trust has been engaging in various activities under the watershed approach primarily focusing on community organisation and mobilization, training and capacity building in skills as well as in technology, widening scope of watershed beneficiaries through exposure visits to successful projects, and engaging in plantation activities thereby reclaiming several thousand hectares of wasteland in the state. The focal point of all such activities in the rural areas is the poor, marginalized and socio-economically disadvantaged groups.
The first step after selection of a watershed and delineation of land based on soil type and structure based on micro-watershed atlas is community mobilization and build up rapport with the people within the selected watersheds. Care is taken to include all key stakeholders including large, medium and small or marginal farmers and women. In each watershed village, institutional structures are established to ensure sustained implementation and participatory monitoring of projects. Thus, village elders, key influential persons, Panchayat representatives, women associations (Mathar Sangams- Women Groups that are later federated into Self Help Groups), youth groups, farmers including women and landless labourers are invited to participate in group level programmes. These formal and informal meetings with the decision-making bodies at the village level help in disseminating information about the project and also instill confidence for support in future activities in the village.
The broad range of initial community mobilization and organization activities is as follows:
- Conducting formal and informal meeting among the watershed community
- Conducting awareness campaign through audio visual aids and folk songs and theatre
- Preparation of audio visual aids for the awareness campaigns
- Conducting Benchmark and Socio-economic Surveys to obtain baseline data
- Conducting Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs) in all selected watersheds
- Capacity Building activities imparting training in technical, managerial, financial areas
- Formation of Watershed Association and Committees
- Formation of User Groups
- Facilitation for preparation of participatory Perspective Watershed Development Plan
- Conducting managerial and technical training to the established local level institutions
- Formation and development of Self Help Groups
- Conducting Participatory Evaluation based on established Performance Indicators
- Facilitating post-project management and sustainable project activities.
- Training in community mobilization and agriculture
COODU Trust has been working extensively in 14 districts of Tamil Nadu on watershed development and livelihoods developments of the rural communities. The main components of the watershed programmes are community mobilization, awareness creation, training, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Socio Economic surveys, mid term evaluation, Impact evaluation, documentation and IEC material preparation for the various components of watershed. The whole exercise was covered for the 479 village Panchayats in Tamil Nadu. As a part of the component in watershed development COODU Trust was instrumental in forming 290 CBOs in 9 districts of Tamil Nadu. These associations are the responsible units for the follow up activities and working for the sustainability of the project. All these CBOs were formed, trained and maintained by COODU Trust.
COODU Trust have been serving as a co-coordinating agency for the implementation of Watershed Development Projects under DPAP, IWDP, TNCWP in rain fed areas in 14 districts of Tamil Nadu since 2000. COODU trust has successfully implemented the watershed programmes in 479 watersheds in Tamil Nadu. The breakup of watersheds and different schemes are as follows:
- 227 watersheds in 12 districts through Integrated Waste Land Development Programmes (IWDP) scheme
- 127 watersheds in 6 districts through Tamilnadu Comprehensive Waste Land Development Programmes (TNCWDP) scheme
- 105 watersheds in 6 districts through Drought Prone Area Programmes (DPAP) scheme
- 20 watersheds in 2 districts through National Watershed Development Project for Rain fed Areas (NWDPRA) scheme
In all the above watersheds, harvesting of rainwater was taken up; establishing horticulture plantation and improvement of drinking water supplies for the villages were taken up. In addition, through people’s empowerment, poverty alleviation programmes were also undertaken through harnessing economic resources, skill – based training to women and formation of Groups to maximize output. Stress was also laid on the use of low – cost technology options and binding the community through institutional arrangements for management of common resources and assets created through the watershed programmes. In all districts, it has been observed that there has been an overwhelming response from the community and the projects has been able to achieve its goals.
The Watershed Development Project was implemented in all the sanctioned districts through the participatory approach, using fully the local wisdom and based on the perceived and prioritized needs of the people. In this manner many of the watershed development works were done using locally available materials, yet adhering to strict quality norms. The implementation of the programmes of the grassroots level was done through the formation of watershed Development committees and other institutional structures at the village level with technical know – how from the PIA and coordinating NGO through training and orientation on various aspects pertaining to watershed development. The following activities also have been undertaken in all the districts with the resulting impact under various schemes.
- Rain Water Harvesting through open wells, development of small water harvesting structures as low – cost farm ponds, nullah bunds, check dams, percolation tanks. The impact of such activities is a reduction in runoff rain water in open fields, increase in water level, increase in area under cultivation and curbing of top soil erosion.
- Renovation and de-silting of tanks / ponds, augmentation of water sources. This has resulted in filling irrigation gap, increase in water storage capacity, dry land cultivation being brought under wet land cultivation, conversion from single crop area to double crop area, increase in water in nearby wells and in tank itself (2-3 times)
- Social forestry and orchard plantations. While afforestration has lead to increase in green cover and improvement in the ecosystem, the planting of orchards has brought more wastelands under plantation with an increase in intercrop area.
- Herbal cultivation in open lands with adequate moisture content in soil. The advantages of such innovative farming are many. While more wasteland has been brought under cultivation, farmers have obtained additional income and there is a revival of knowledge of herbs and traditional systems of medicine. The most significant advantage is the appreciation of land value under herbal cultivation.
- Land development and reclamation including in-situ soil and moisture conservation measurers. Principally activities undertaken include reclamation of degraded and undulated wastelands to level land through land leveling thereby brought under cultivation with earthen bunding on sides. This has controlled soil erosion, lead to increase in moisture retention capacity, increased wasteland brought under cultivation, conversion of dry land to wet land, increase in production and subsequent increase in land value indicating increase in income.
- Minor / Major / diversion check dams and stone bunding structures. These minor civil structures mode of locally available materials helps in arresting top soil erosion as they are laid in slopes with over 10 percent gradient. As a result of such measures, there is increase in moisture retention in catchments areas, increase in production, conversion of wasteland into cultivable land and additional vegetative cover.
- Basic Write up
- Technology Transfer to Small scale & Marginal Farmers
- High Tech Nursery
- Organic Farming
- Precision Farming
- Details about the 50 acre demo land
- Agri-demonstration on – Bamboo, Medicinal Plants
- Organic Sustainability
- Mushroom Cultivation
- Vermi compost – Vermiculture, Vermi wash,etc.
- ‘Panchakaviya’ Production
- Technology promotion