Narmada landscape Restoration project (NLRP) that engages deeply with the community to increase their participation, undertook a Needs assessment Survey between 19th to 24th September 2022. Using Focussed Group Discussion (FGDs) that included farmers, forest dependent communities and women, the survey identified the existing knowledge and understanding of the Narmada Catchment community on various aspects of watershed management, forest management, organic agriculture, and other livelihood options. The survey will help NLRP design customized capacity building modules and their delivery mechanism for a greater impact. NLRP also aims to create a cadre of local youth who have a greater understanding about sustainable landscape activities and can work as change agents in the project area and beyond. The surveys were held across the 19 villages identified from the baseline survey and prioritized for field activities that will improve the water quality and quantity in Nani and Vanshavali tributaries of River Narmada.
NLRP Project Management Unit (PMU) comprising of GGGI and IIFM staff led the survey process with support from field officers of Samaj Pragati Sahyog (SPS). The teams comprised of experts from the field of agriculture, forestry, watershed, and qualitative research. Participatory and interactive FGDs were conducted moderated by PMU staff and the data gathered is being documented by SPS. Findings from the survey will be produced as the Capacity Needs Assessment Report and will include the plan to conduct the several capacity building activities over the next 24 months. The delivery mechanisms, it seems will require demonstration, in house trainings as well as dissemination through audio-visual contents.
The entire survey was planned in detail keeping the availability of the farmers, division of the villages in different tolas (basis caste) and members of collectives like Self Help Groups (SHGs), Farmer Producer/Interest Organizations/Groups (FPOs/FIGs) and Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs). The FGDs were conducted at different locations within a village to ensure representation from community involving people from different caste, creed, gender, occupation, and land holding size. Survey questionnaires were prepared in advance and the team from SPS was thoroughly trained before landing in the field. Baseline survey reports of each village was shared with each of the visiting team to acquaint themselves about the village dynamics. In some of the villages, the participation rate in the FGDs was more than twenty-five members. These participants highlighted their issues and expressed interest in upgrading their knowledge and skills on improved agriculture practices, better water use management and strengthening of the collectives. The participants also impressed upon the fact that trainings sessions should be planned based on the daily routine of the participants and evening is the best time to encourage greater participation in the training sessions. Many women expressed their desire to form SHGs and Water User Groups, besides asking for a greater say in collectives that they are part of.
The survey acted as a strong tool for NLRP to encourage participation and build ownership among the catchment community for the project objectives. The enthusiasm of the community will act as a great strength for the team to continue their endeavour to improve the quality and quantity of water flowing in the two tributaries and therefore develop a Payment for Ecosystem (PES) model that can be adopted and scaled up in the entire Narmada catchment. PES can work as a win-win solution for both the upstream and downstream users of Narmada water. SPS with its vast experience in capacity building activities will now develop customized training modules and delivery mechanisms in consultation with the PMU. Through field activities that include construction and repair of Natural Resource Management infrastructures and capacity building, NLRP will create a sustainable impact in the project area between Omkareshwar and Maheshwar dam in the Narmada catchment.