Resource Management Programs & Their Impact
Common Lands Restoration
Seva Mandir supports communities through lengthy negotiations to remove illegal encroachers from vast areas of common land, and restore this land to all members of the community. Seva Mandir has helped develop 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres) of common land, which yield tangible benefits such as an annual Rs. 4.5 million ($75,000) of fodder, which families would otherwise have to purchase. Seva Mandir’s Village Forums manage benefit-sharing of agriculture and have protected and kept 80% of reclaimed sites in productive use. This work has also inspired grassroots environmental leaders who are celebrated at the annual Lodha Awards.
Seva Mandir is also a leading partner in the government’s efforts to protect common lands. Since 2011, over 100 village governments have endorsed Seva Mandir as the executor for 272 government projects on common resources, creating 110,000 person days of employment at an expense of Rs. 12,500,000 ($210,000).
Seva Mandir works with communities to restore forestation as well as pastureland in reclaimed land areas. The organization has helped build sustainable watersheds in 46 villages through large-scale infrastructure (such as dams and trenches) that prevents water runoff and soil erosion, conserves water and increases agricultural productivity. Village institutions maintain the watersheds and receive technical support from Seva Mandir engineers. This work on watersheds has improved the lives and livelihoods of over 6,000 families. Farmers in watershed areas can grow food grain for four additional months, and 85% of families who previously bought grain are now self-sufficient. 50% of farmers report an increase in cultivable land of more than 1 acre, translating into a near 100% increase in farm-based income with important ancillary effects such as fewer families migrating for work.
Seva Mandir has helped over 16,000 people obtain clean drinking water by building and restoring wells, and has provided sanitation systems to over 650 families by building water-free toilets appropriate to the desert climate. Seva Mandir works with the government to expand these vital services in rural Udaipur, where 92% of families still lack adequate sanitation and 54% lack hygienic drinking water.
To improve irrigation, Seva Mandir has constructed 76 anicut (small scale) dams and 47 irrigation lifts in 108 villages. Follow-up studies found that involved families were able to grow staple food grain for 3.5 additional months, about a 50% increase. Seva Mandir has also worked directly with over 10,000 farmers to improve agricultural yields by promoting eco-friendly best practices, such as communal seed banks with improved crop varietals, diversified vegetable cultivation, vermi-composting, and livestock health camps. In a single year, improved seeds provided 1000 farming families better nutrition and a 50% hike in income through sale of corn and mustard worth about Rs.1500 to each family.