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Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Security through Innovations in Land and Ecosystem Management
GEF Agency : World Bank
Executing Partners : National Agriculture Innovation Project, Indian Council of Agriculture Research
In the last ten years agriculture in India has undergone considerable change. National food self sufficiency has been achieved, although many poor households are still at risk and more so as a consequence of the recent increases in food prices. About 80% of the 260 million people living below the poverty line in rural areas depend on agriculture for their livelihood. At the same time, the natural resources and ecological foundations essential for sustained advances in the agricultural productivity are rapidly shrinking and declining under anthropogenic and socio-economic pressures and climate change. The major factors leading to land degradation include climate variations and human activities. Manmade causes include expansion of agriculture and unsustainable agricultural practices such as over-cultivation, nutrient inputs, poor irrigation practices, deforestation and overgrazing.
Such unsustainable resource management practices are often induced by population pressure, social conflicts and disruption of social systems, inappropriate government policies and poverty. Poor people affected by desertification often need to draw on their limited assets in order to survive, which accentuates their poverty. This generates a vicious cycle linking deteriorating natural resources to deteriorating livelihoods as people encroach further on fragile soils, sparse vegetation and limited water resources to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and livelihood. In order to generate additional income and employment for the poor and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss, the role of agriculture is critical. A scenario analysis shows that with the limited scope for area expansion, the main source of agricultural biodiversity, will have to come through enhanced productivity. This, already substantial challenge for the agricultural sector, is further aggravated by the additional stress that will be put on agricultural and biological systems as a result of climate change.
The Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Security through Innovations in Land and Ecosystem Management Project is a component project of the SLEM-CPP. Lessons learned in this project will thus have an avenue for efficient scaling up and knowledge dissemination at national level. Through other sub-projects under the SLEM-CPP and, not least through Indian institutions both at union and state level, through the active involvement of the private sector, and through other development partners that will participate in the SLEM-CPP, lessons learned will have a wide audience willing and able to benefit from them to the maximum.
Strengthen institutional and community capacity for sustainable land and ecosystem management through approaches and techniques that combine innovative and indigenous techniques for restoring and sustaining the natural resource base, including its biodiversity, while taking account of climate variability and change.
The Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Security through Innovations in Land and Ecosystem Management Project will strengthen the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in its role as a catalyst of change in the national agricultural innovation system. It will mainstream sustainable land and ecosystems management into the development and implementation of innovations in agriculture through collaboration among farmers, private sector, civil society and public sector organizations. Following the procedures developed under the NAIP, three consortia have been selected for the implementation of project initiatives in the three focal areas: land degradation, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change, focusing on specific tasks aiming at agricultural transformation and sustainable rural livelihood security; land degradation in degraded coastal lands, biodiversity conservation and agricultural intensification, and enhanced adaptive capacity to climate change in drought and flood prone areas.
The core objective of the activities, addressed through these three focal areas of GEF is the sustained improvement in the incomes and well-being of farm families in the mainly rain-fed, hilly and mountain, dryland, tribal dominated and coastal areas which have so far been left behind in the development process. Through this geographical and subject matter focus, the project will address the areas that are most at risk with regard to resource degradation in the form of land degradation and loss of biodiversity as well as with regard to vulnerability to climate variability and change specifically in the poorest regions of the country and the farmers and farming systems where poverty is linked to natural resource degradation and which are the weakest in terms of resources to address this threat.
Activities in the Project
The type of activities that will be supported through the three sub-projects will cover technical as well as policy and institutional aspects related to land degradation, biodiversity and climate change. Each sub-project, within its specific focal area, will develop and support locally adapted land use and water management practices, as well as technologies like crop rotation, agro-forestry, conservation agriculture, land management, water harvesting and participatory water management in balance with profit, environmental and community needs. The project will also addresses policy issues with the aim of
improving incentives for enhanced productivity and sustainable land management and to guarantee sustainability of innovations. Economic and marketing aspects are important considerations given that the target areas and groups of the project are among the most disadvantaged in the country. In order to pave the way for efficient scaling of results, emphasis has been given to capitalizing on existing channels for service delivery and access to information rather than creation of new structures. In order to link into such channels and local structures, the project has established formal relations with local development organizations (mainly NGOs) and with local government authorities during the preparatory
Through such cooperation with local organizations, support will be provided for the development of approaches for community development and empowerment of local communities to meet the challenges facing them with regard to managing their natural resource base sustainably and productively.