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Rajasthan - Case Studies
 
Title Issue
Ancient wisdom for modern day prosperity  
Beyond the call of duty Education
Dykes: Simple Means to Solve Water Problems Water Resource Management
For Teachers to Teach and Students to Learn Education
Grassroot innovation: transforming lives Education
Growing prosperity Education
Rebuilding Lives Healthcare
Solar Power Empowered Madanlal’s Life Agro-Based Livelihoods
Sweet Taste of Solar Success Agro-Based Livelihoods
Cleanliness and hygiene: A way of Life Healthcare
Towards a brighter future SEDI
 

Ancient wisdom for modern day prosperity

At Balada village, sloping terrain caused fertile top soil to be washed away resulting in impoverishment and poor returns. ACF decided to try the ancient ‘Khadine’ system which enables water to be harvested along the slopes and then re-used to saturate the table land to grow crops.

ACF got buy-in from all the farmers and even got them to garner a 25% contribution to defray the cost of the project: The project was kick started with ACF providing technical inputs and the balance funds. In a short duration, the khadine bunding was completed. Water being wasted over a 100 Ha. area was collected in a space of 10 Ha. The impact of the project was clearly visible after the monsoon. 90% of the total area recorded an increase in productivity. Farmers were able to harvest a rabi crop which they earlier had to forgo due to water shortage. Farmers who cultivated mustard in place of bajra or millet also benefited tremendously. The financial returns from mustard were much better than those from bajra. Farmers received Rs.1.5 lakh for 50 quintals of mustard as against Rs.75, 000/= for 150 quintals of bajra. The moisture table of the soil also improved and this benefited crops in the downstream fields as well.

Making a thousand ‘flowers’ bloom
Vegetable cultivation was being promoted in the villages of Jaitaran by ACF to help farmers earn a supplementary income and for this, a pilot was carried out with select farmers. The results of the pilot were very encouraging. The easy availability of markets at Bilada, Jodhpur was an additional advantage.

Based on the pilot, a group of 17 farmers from village Banjakudi approached ACF for assistance with starting a similar project.

ACF offered the farmers technical support in terms of water and soil testing. Based on the test results, ACF suggested the cultivation of cauliflower in the area. Farmers cultivated an area of 9.08 Ha. with the vegetable and shared half the cost of the cultivation with ACF. Technical support and motivation was provided by experts from the Agricultural Department. Interactions were also facilitated with other progressive farmers who had undertaken such initiatives. Farm demonstrations on fertilizers and insecticides were also arranged. In a short span of 120 days the cauliflower was ready for market. It was sold at a profit of over Rs.3.78 lakh.

These villages are now all set to make a proverbial thousand flowers bloom!

Lifting the veil of traditional bondage
In Rajasthan, family traditions are very strong and women are forced to stay indoors- veiled and powerless. Sukhari Devi was the Sarpanch of Balada village. But she was illiterate, so her husband wielded her political powers on her behalf. It was a classic case of a woman in a position of power being powerless on the ground. The VHFs of the village observed that though Sukhari had little power she had the potential to become a leader if she was properly groomed and supported.

Going beyond the call of duty, the VHFs took on the task of grooming and motivating Sukhari. They began by taking her with them to Jaitaran to participate in a women’s empowerment programme. The trip opened her eyes to a whole new world; one that fascinated and excited her. She was invited to attend the VHF meetings and follow their discussions. A keen learner, she took a first step forward by learning to sign her name. Gradually she moved from the VHF meetings to the Panchayat meetings. The Sarpanch who would never attend the meetings, was now not only in attendance - she was also in command!

While people in the village including her husband took time to adjust to the new Sukhari Devi, Sukhari took to her role like a fish to water. She now represents true empowerment and iconic appeal for other women in the area.

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Beyond the call of duty

Twenty one year old Sita Gurjar was a woman of many facets. In addition to being a housewife and caring for her family, she had taken on the additional responsibility of working as a Swasthya Didi in her village.

Young and enthusiastic, Sita underwent the training organised by ACF to equip her to function as a Swasthya Didi. She learnt about primary health care and also learnt that her role demanded more than just providing primary medical aid and referral services to the residents of her village. Good health was the right of every human being and that was what she was to attain that for her village.

The women in her locality did not have access to clean drinking water. They walked 3 kms to collect water. The journey was exhausting and took away a large part of their day. Sita knew access to potable water was closely linked to good health and while the panchayat members did not realize the importance of drinking water, she did. A little diffident and unsure of herself, Sita gathered courage and approached the village panchayat. She raised the issue of the lack of a water source in Sevariya village. The panchayat members, unused to such initiatives from women in their village, had several questions to ask her and she answered each of those with conviction and confidence. The discussion with the panchayat members convinced them that the need for developing a permanent source of drinking water for the village was a pressing one that had to be addressed immediately. Impressed with Sita’s enterprising nature, they promised her that they would undertake the construction of a water tank and resolved that the tank would be constructed with the participation of the villagers and would be completed within 7 days.

Sita went home smiling after the meeting. This was her first independent interaction with the panchayat and it was a success. Now will a little follow up and collaboration with the panchayat, all the women in her village would have access to drinking water at their convenience.
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Dykes: Simple Means to Solve Water Problems

Dalpat Singh and Narayan Purohit were farmers in Rajasthan who are constantly plagued with water problems. The unavailability of water had a detrimental effect on daily agricultural practices and impacted its productivity as well. This particular problem was limited not only to Dalpat and Narayan, but it extended to numerous other farmers in the
areas as well.

Rajasthan has a few seasonal rivers that provide water to the villagers. Water from these rivers and the wells is used for irrigation purposes and for household consumption. Over the years these rivers have steadily become silted. Resultantly they have become narrow, are unable to carry optimal quantities of water and have horizontal run-offs. Another consequence of this narrowing of rivers is that the amount of water that percolated into the ground also reduces thus reducing the ground water level. These problems are especially severe in dessert areas.

A technically sound and cost effective method was applied to deal with this problem. Instead of building structure on the surface of the earth, we chose to build structures deep inside the river bed. A deep vertical cut about 10-15 feet was made at an appropriate point at the river bed. At some distance, another such cut was made. A thick polythene sheet was tied across this cut to make vertical cavities. The silt that was removed from the river was filled in these cavities. Thus two ‘walls’ were made under the surface of the flowing river.

These structures called dykes had direct implications of the water levels. The dykes directed water to flow horizontally across the land. This spread of water increased the water table. Farmers discovered that the level of water in their wells went up. In Rajastan wells are often dug very deep because the water table is very low. The dykes brought a change in this situation. In the case of Dalpat Singh and Narayan Purohit, who are farmers by tradition, the water table rose to a staggering 25 ft. after the dyke construction. Not only did the water level increase, the farmers had water for a longer period of time during the year. They were able to grow a wider range of crops like mustard, wheat, jeera, onion, brinjal, tomatoes etc. Needless to say both Dalpat and Narayan are overjoyed with this development.

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For Teachers to Teach and Students to Learn

In a school in Mundwa, Rajasthan, Rajeev studied extremely hard for his half yearly exams. When the results came, he had failed miserably, along with 80% of his classmates. Ambuja Cement Foundation conducted a survey to check the quality of education in Mundwa, and found it wasn’t actually the student’s fault. There were no teachers to teach them!

ACF realized that poor teaching staff was hampering these students’s education. The quality of education in schools was quite bad and so the students were faring badly in major subjects like Science, English and Mathematics. To tackle this problem ACF established the ‘Ambuja Learning Centre’ on 1st August, 2006.

The Center takes care of Science, English and Mathematics, and a part-time lecturer coaches Class XII students. Three senior teachers have been posted for class X and run the learning centre. 181 students are now at the center and are doing pretty well. Rajeev and his classmates all have shown major improvement in the results.
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Grassroot innovation: transforming lives

Promoting vegetable cultivation was a profitable venture, ACF faced a dilemma. On one hand there was a scope of increasing farmers’ incomes through vegetable cultivation, on the other there were practical problems arising out of the product being perishable. Vegetables needed to be sold soon after harvest no matter what the price. There was no way that the farmers could store and preserve their vegetables. The farmers made frequent trips to the local market on alternate days and sometimes stayed overnight at the market till all their stock was sold.
There has to be a solution to make vegetables cultivation more profitable and convenient.
With a resolve to solve this problem and after several discussions with technical persons and researchers, Team Ambuja designed a low cost model of a “fridge” that provided short term storage. The technology allowed farmers to store their harvest for 4-5 days without any loss in quality. The “fridge” was easy to construct and used local materials and cost a little under Rs.5,000.

“Not just vegetables, my fridge stores milk, butter and paneer too” beamed Chain Singh, one of the many farmers relying on this technology.
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Growing prosperity

Prem Sukh from Kharda village in Rajasthan grew traditional crops such as Bajra on his 28 bigha using agricultural practices employed by his fore fathers. The returns he received from his land were not encouraging and in time they became so low that Prem began worrying. He had family responsibilities and the low income from farming wasn’t sufficient to meet his family’s needs. Financial worried consumed him……….till he attended an agriculture training by ACF in his village.At the training Prem Sukh got to learn that vegetable cultivation through drip irrigation was an effective way to diversify and increase incomes. He followed up the training programme with an exposure visit, again organised by ACF.

Brimming with new ideas for his farm, he undertook a small survey of the market on his own merit. His assessment indicated that growing brinjals would be a good bet for him. Prem Singh grew the vegetable in 1.50 bighas of his land and used another 1.50 bighas for growing horticulture plantation like pomegranate, lemon and papaya. He installed a drip irrigation system to water the plants. On the remaining land he continued to grow traditional crops.
Prem was wonderstruck by the returns he got from his new crop. Brinjal cultivation gave him 20 times the profit of traditional crops! In 7 months’ time Prem’s net earnings stood at almost Rs.1 lakh. This extraordinary profitability was way beyond Prem’s imagination. Not only did her earn more, by using micro irrigation he also saved water in his water starved village.
A little risk taking and hard work had worked together beautifully to give Prem Singh the combined benefit of success and financial independence. He is today an inspiration to other farmers.
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Rebuilding Lives

Jayanta Ram, a resident of Lambiya village, Rajasthan, left his village to seek employment in Bangalore city. Life was looking up for Jayanta; he liked his job and was earning well. But an unfortunate event turned his life around. When his roommate was ill for a long time and met his untimely end, Jayanta was deeply upset. He later found out that his roommate was silently suffering from AIDS. This incident shook him up tremendously.

After spending about five years in Bangalore, Jayanta felt that his body was growing weaker by the day. He found similarities in his illness pattern and that of his deceased friend’s. He felt returning to his village may help restore his health. When his health didn’t improve even after moving to his village, he consulted a doctor. The doctor diagnosed him with HT-B but when treatment had no effect on him whatsoever, he was asked to get himself tested for HIV. The results of the test changed the course of Jayanta’s life forever. He was found to be HIV positive. On the insistence of his doctor and the ACF team, he was encouraged to get his wife tested as well. She too was found to be HIV positive. This discovery shattered the couple. They were at a loss and didn’t know what to do. ACF realised the crucial nature of intervention in this case and provided them with counselling services. To make them financially independent, ACF assisted them in opening a small grocery store to meet their financial needs. A water storage tank and a toilet facility were constructed for them. The health status of the couple has shown considerable improvement.

With their health in good shape and their financial needs taken care of, life is looking up once again for Jayanta
and his wife.

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Solar Power Empowered Madanlal’s Life

In Roopasar, Rajasthan, dhanis (hamlets) are on the periphery of village Inana. The inhabitants are cut off from basic facilities that the other village hubs have. Madanlal Jat, a farmer, lives in one such dhani, along with his family of eight.

No electricity reached them and this caused major problems for the women, who couldn’t work and the children who couldn’t study after sundown. The Government had made promises that seemed hollow.

The area had abundant sunlight, so ACF decided to try using solar panels to generate electricity. Madanlal agreed to make a one-time investment that ACF suggested. But even after getting a government subsidy, he was still falling short of
Rs. 10,000. ACF decided to cover 25% of that cost.

Today Madanlal is able to operate two tube lights, a fan, or a black and white television, all through his solar panel.
His living standards have improved and his family is elated. 50 more farmers are keen to install the system in their dhanis, inspired by Madanlal ’s story.
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Sweet Taste of Solar Success

Can you even imagine a life without electricity? We take it for granted, but for one village it wasn’t even a dream that might one day come true.

A small dhani (hamlet) in Mundwa district in Rajasthan was dependant entirely on the sun for light. After dark, they use lanterns. There is no electricity, and of course, no TV.

16 year old Nirma, a class XI student in the village, was quite the clever child. She had been studying about solar energy at school, and was keen that her father give it a try. Not only would it provide their hut with light and help Nirma study late nights, but it would also be cost effective in the long run.

Unfortunately her father, Harmanram, did not have enough money to install the solar panels needed to tap solar energy, although he was quite enthusiastic about it. So he approached the Ambuja Cement Foundation, who provided one third of the investment needed to set up the solar panels.

After the installation of the solar panels, a lot has changed for the family. They are able to fire up two tube lights, a fan and even a black and white television. Nirma is able to study for longer, and her family’s changed lifestyle is motivating others to also invest in alternate sources of energy.

Nirma is thrilled with the changes electricity has bought to her life. Each time a light bulb is switched on in Nirma ’s house, an equally bright smile lights up her face!
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Cleanliness and hygiene: A way of Life

The Village Development Committee of Amarpura, Rabriyawas proudly shares the work done by them over the past few months. They were also given a certification of appreciated on the 26th January 2013 by the government on the excellent work undertaken for village development. Amarpura today is considered a village to be looked up to for community participation and it’s the passion to make their village a model in sanitation and cleanliness.

The situation was different a few months back though. Enter Amarpura and one would see a heap of garbage. Filth was laden in the streets. During rains, the drains would be clogged and in many parts, there were no drains. The people in the community were concerned about this. So much so, efforts were taken within the village to have committees who would work on specific issues of water, garbage, stray dogs. The base line survey also clearly brought out the fact that the community was well knit and informed. But there was a lack of vision.

Amarpura was a village which if given a slight support would make their village a model in sanitation. ACF shared the results of the baseline survey with the village. After a number of meetings and deliberations it was decided to have a committee which would exclusively look at the developmental issues of the village. The unique part of the committee was that each and every household was represented. This was named as Village Development Committee. The president was elected by the village members and had the right to select his/ her own team.

This committee over a period of 6-7 months brought in a lot of changes in the village. Almost one third of the houses completed construction of toilets in the village. For the rest of the households, the construction is still on. Drainage and soak pits were built which helps in proper disposal of used water. The people came forward to contribute an approximate 4 lakh and the committee has been able to leverage on a number of government schemes for the village.

The committee was successfully able to push ahead incomplete projects which had begun in the village. The labour room for women which was pending for years was completed in 2012. In the same year, the construction of a road was also completed. The SMC of the school was activated with the funds put in by the committee. One of the major achievements of the village was the collective decision to remove the encroachment on common property and instead use it for plantations and other developmental activities.

ACF in the meanwhile also ensured that exposure visits for the committee were conducted along with regular meetings to develop a plan for future. A system for these meetings was also formalized by ACF. After the hard work of the village, a number of other villages look upon Amrapura as a village to give them the direction to work on sanitation.
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Towards a brighter future

After completing his 12th standard Naresh worked in a CD and DVD centre. But the salary of Rs. 2000 a month was not sufficient for a 9 member family. Naresh was thinking of establishing is own business or a better paying job, but was aware of the lack of skills.

It was during this time that SEDI, Chirawa held a youth mobilization for their courses. One of the courses being for repairing mobiles. His interest in machinery prompted Naresh to take up this course immediately. He enrolled himself in ‘Mobile Phone Repair & Maintenance’. This course at SEDI has the component of compulsory training of Computer Literacy, Personality development & entrepreneurship development too. The aim is to make the candidates skilled enough to either take a job or open their own business. The training at SEDI changed Naresh completely. The personality development sessions made him a confident person from an introvert personality. He does not feel scared now from approaching people or making friends.

After the completion of the course, SEDI helped him to get loan to set up his own shop. In his word "I am really thankful to the SEDI for showing me the right direction to develop my career". Naresh’s net earnings from shop are about 12000-15000 per month. He also gives SEDI the credit to develop his entrepreneurial skills. He now wishes to expand his shop to a cyber café.

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