VOICES FROM THE FIELD

   

Rain water harvesting in Kenyan homesteads

Lydia Kiserian along with the other members of the Women’s Water User Group in Laikipia county of Kenya, manages a rain water harvesting structure ..... near their homestead. The women received guidance and support from Pragya in setting up the structure as part of its initiative to improve water access in Kenyan Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs). This water source has saved her from walking 3 to 4 hours every day to fetch water from the river, along with the children making several trips. The structure stores enough rain water for their domestic needs and for the livestock. Lydia is now able to engage in activities that brings extra income to her family. She has now joined a group to make beaded ornaments and sell them. The children in the household get humble time to concentrate on learning and doing homework rather than fetching water after school.

Farmers lead on climate adaptation

“The trainings informed me how to carry out participatory, farm-level research on adaptation to climate change. We learnt about arid-area crops, drought-resistant varieties of crops, adapting the timings of farm operations to weather conditions, and efficient irrigation technologies. I am now engaged in trials and conducting experiments on suitable crops that would help farmers reduce risk of crop failures due to climate change. We farmers now perceive agriculture as a profitable venture” - says Nirmal Chand of Khinang Village, Himachal Pradesh, India. Pragya has been implementing a programme to address food security in the Himalayas using a three-pronged approach: (1) climate adaptation and farm productivity enhancement, (2) improving post-harvest facilities and market linkages for income enhancement, and (3) improving household nutrition. New crops / practices suitable for the changing agro-climate were tested in 10 farm-research plots in the Indian Himalayas by Pragya in collaboration with Farmer Expert Groups (FEG) formed in the districts. Potential cash crops, stress tolerant varieties and crops with high nutritive value were trialled and preliminary results have been shared by the Farmer Experts with other farmers.

Rebuilding livelihoods in flood ravaged

In Munshigunj district of Bangladesh 52 villages in 2 sub-districts were ravaged by flood. Pragya worked with families living in 'char' islands who were displaced during the the August 2017 floods. Pragya conducted transect walk on the affected char islands to map the damage profile and requirements of the beneficiaries and hosted participatory Vulnerability Mapping exercise for the Char communities. As part of its effort to rebuild livelihoods, Pragya conducted livestock distribution to flood affected households from the char island. The beneficiaries received detailed training on fodder and feed management for the animals, deworming, disease control, vaccination, etc. “None of us properly knew about livestock care. I learnt about the ideal space, food and medicines that the goats would need. Earlier I thought that goats only like small leaves. But now I know that they like food full of coarse fibre, including rice and wheat bran, Bengal gram.” – participant from Jhautia village, Munshigunj, Bangladesh commented. Pragya is also providing safe drinking water facilities (filtration units) for the flood-hit families that are currently residing in arsenic contaminated areas.

Time for strawberries in the poly houses of Nepal

Maya Tamang a 40 years old woman from Gamailo in Nuwakot district of Kakani Gaupalika. Maya has a family of 7 members including 2 children. Being illiterate, Maya Tamang did not have enough alternatives for livelihood which made her a potential beneficiary and work as a farmer for poly house in Nuwakot District. Pragya implemented the project called “Improving Rural Livelihoods, Water & Sanitation in Earthquake Damaged Areas of Nepal” where a holistic rehabilitation programme was being delivered in Nepal. These interventions were aimed at addressing critical needs of poor households affected by the earthquake in four disaster-affected districts in Nepal. The interventions focused on water and sanitation, short-term income generation, long-term livelihood development and protection of women from gender-based violence. Maya has already sold about 100 kg of strawberry this season and earns 30,000 INR and is still selling the strawberries. Her target is to achieve an income of 1, 50,000 INR. She is happy that she has gained and wants to work harder to make more money from the strawberry fields. “We have seen difficult times when we did not have money to pay for children’s school books for school. Now life has become easier as we are able to manage our daily expenses smoothly,” says Maya Tamang.

Local Mentor fights to end harmful traditions

Nilima Das has been working as a mentor (Missamari village, Sonitpur, Assam) to empower women and to sensitise all stakeholders in the area on VAW issues and local cultural practices that result in violence. There are a number of indigenous tribes working in the tea gardens in the Panchayats she works in. They suffer many injustices because of their differences from the mainstream local communities. Nilima Das also points out, there is high incidence of child marriage among them. A young girl is put to work as soon as she reaches puberty and her employability is also considered a sign that she has achieved the marriageable age. She is working with women's groups and other local stakeholders to change the mindset. Nilima mentions "Being a part of the project has enhanced my understanding and sensitivity on violence against women. Working as a mentor for the last two years have not only enabled me to advocate on community level but also enhanced my decision making capability within my family.” She and her fellow mentors (trained by Pragya with support from UNTF EVAW) conduct campaigns to make people aware of various discriminatory traditional norms and practices prevalent in the society that violates rights of women and girls and put them at risk.

Kenyan farmers benefit from medicinal herbs farming

In Kenya, many rare and valuable medicinal plants are collected from the wild as communities ..... rely on them for traditional medicine. Agnes Mulimi is 35 year old mother of four. Motivated and guided by Pragya, in 2013, she cultivated two rare medicinal plants on her own land. The produce earned her a profit that was one and half times more than that from a traditional produce. Cultivation of crops has been her main source of income for the past 10 years. However, cultivation of the medicinal plants on her farm, she says, has been a game changer as far as family income is concerned. She planted one acre of Ocimum and Mondia whitei in her plot and after the first harvest she received more money compared to the crops she had been cultivating. This encouraged her to concentrate with the medicinal plants which has seen her educate her four children, feed and clothe them unlike before where she would struggle with paying school fees. The children are happy too because they can afford to wear shoes to school now. Agnes has also bought a cow from the proceeds from medicinal plants farming. At the same time, she uses the medicinal plants for treatments in case any of the family members get ill, and this has reduced the healthcare costs.