Sustainable utilization of natural resources in Jhabua district

The project was started with the background as there was large-scale deforestation in the 1960s, with severe effects in the ecosystem, climate and populations; Widespread soil erosion, overgrazing and inappropriate land use resulting in barren landscapes and also Seasonal migration of men in search of employment.Multiple interventions were attempted which aimed at the natural resources rejuvenation and socio-economic improvement of people. The impact was highly favourable as it helped in Control of soil erosion; Substantial re-afforestation of 247 ha; Rehabilitation of degraded communal pastures, giving better yields and economic returns; Increased water supplies from water harvesting and raised groundwater levels

This study was aimed at taking a comprehensive overview of the human, land, water and vegetation resources of Jhabua and identifying the underlying causes of drought and poverty. The development models for backward areas have all tended to substitute an urbanised industrial culture for the traditional means of livelihood in the mistaken belief that this created jobs. What happens is that rural folk lose their land and occupations, none more so than the tribals, whereas the industrial jobs, which need other skills attract outsiders. Thus coupled with environemntal degradation, these models actually enhance local poverty and deculturise the tribal people.

Our hypothesis is that there are alternative, more environmentally compatible and locally accepable development models. The underlying assumption is that land use can be so planned that even with the existing limitations of soil and moisture, the land can be made to yield a good life to the people. Stop cultivating slopes, bring them under pasture, and trees, substitute animal husbandry for ploughed cultivation of unsuitable land, conserve and havrest water, and one ends up with far greater rural prosperity in which all can share. It is on the base of such prosperity that one can build an edifice of compatible, sustainable and rational non-agricultureal manufacturing activity, which further increases local job opportunities.

This project won UNEP award. The performance of the project was rated as most outstanding by the UNEP team who visited and saw the significant changes in the project areas due to the impact of the project activities