Here’s your evidence.
Bottom-up approaches to development DO work.
Not often do nonprofit organizations working in global development have the opportunity to have outside evaluators look at projects that were completed years ago.
But IDEX partner Sahyog Sansthan was fortunate to have that opportunity this year with the release of a book entitled, Rising to the Call: Good practices of climate change adaptation in India.
The book was published by the Center for Science and Environment, a think tank in New Delhi. It featured a case study of Sahyog’s past work in Udaipur, Rajasthan in northwestern India.
In 2001, Sahyog began working to revive the local churnot, or common pastureland, for 97 pastoral families, highly dependent on natural resources for their grazing animals. As climate change creates drought conditions in the region, animals die without enough grazing land or grass. Without an alternative source of income, this has dire effects on people’s lives.
The churnot was to be managed by the panchayat [or village board] for the entire community’s benefit. But it had been degraded by drought, overgrazing, soil erosion, and misuse by local officials.
As you might imagine, Sahyog faced opposition at first. Community discussions about developing the 52-hectare plot of pastureland continued for almost a year.
For the following three years, the community and Sahyog implemented the project. Together they strengthened monitoring, management, and accountability systems until Sahyog handed over full management of the common pastureland to the community in 2006.
The case study found that this long-term accompaniment approach by Sahyog was effective. Years later the developed area and the installed structures as a whole were found to be well-maintained by the villagers. The families had seen a quantitative and qualitative increase in grass production and the renewal of common pasturelands was being replicated in other villages.
A farmer in his 50s named Bhalaram who participated in the project said, “Last year it rained early and then for one and a half months there was no sign of rain…[the common pastureland] has become a fodder [grass] bank for us. We use it in times of crisis.”
Bhalarm smiles at his use of the word ‘bank’ for pastureland.
These are the lasting solutions that IDEX’s approach to grassroots grant making makes possible.
Heera Lal Sharma, secretary of Sahyog, writes, “We are grateful to IDEX for ‘flexible funding’ to Sahyog for our future work. This will enable us to enhance our creativity and capacity to seek the challenges of our work. It also gives us enough space to work according the needs and capacities of the communities of our area.”