Bundelkhand Trail Day I
What did we see today, what did we learn new
Mador – a village on its way to become a model of people’s development.
An innovative housing – cum livelihood model which has leveraged on people’s collective initiative to come together for housing and saving for housing. A government scheme – the innovative stream of housing development has been significantly innovated upon by a unique grant cum credit linked with livelihood supports and technical orientation for quality construction. Families registered by paying up Rs. 2000 as initial contribution and have over the past three years paid back most of Rs .12000 of the loan amount. After the first 35 families, 16 more families were covered under a similar system funded by the HFHI. And currently three more houses are in process.
The rat trap was demonstrated in this region for the first time and village masons trained during the construction of the houses have taken this technique to various parts of the region and also outside in Punjab and Puducherry.
The MCR roof and RCC door window frames produced in the village were used in the houses. In the houses constructed later in the grant-cum loan method, stone slab roofs supported with a locally available pre-stressed concrete beam was used in the roof. Houses are 180 sqft. In area with one room, a kitchen space and a toilet. There is however not a complete utilization of the toilets and much remains to be done in the area of softer services of health and hygiene training.
In order that loan payment does not become a burden, families were linked to a programme under the District Poverty Initiative managed by Pradaan, a local NGO and linked to a poultry enterprise . The poultry business in the village has since grown to become 80 unit strong, each with 1500 birds. Can such density in poultry population result in any health ill effects? While it is too early to comment on that, the needs examination. The poultry litter is sold out to the agriculture farms and a thick canopy of neem trees may be one answer to a clean atmosphere despite the presence of thousands of birds. This however needs more examination.
Is environment friendliness only resource and energy conservation or is there more to it? The group visiting the village felt that in addition to technological innovations in low carbon technologies, tree plantation in a housing development was critical and especially fruit trees and kitchen garden development in a rural development such a this. This is also a guideline in the IAY development in Maharashtra.
A discussion on the housing funds led to a very strong reaction from the teams from Maharashtra regarding the grant mode of funding. Besides spawning corruption, it was felt that it led to lack of ownership of the assets by the families and “free mentality” needs to be eradicated especially in the case of private asset creation. The facilitation with respect to roads, electricity, credit provisions should be provided even to the poor nad supports for livelihoods, and asset creation should be technically guided but not free constructed / provided. However, it was felt that credit access by the rural families has a lot to be desired and credit systems based on the need and ability of the poor do not exist. Credit access and repayment needed to be linked with family clusters in a group mode so that peer support and peer pressure are used effectively to access as well as repay credit.
It was discussed that the role of the Sarpanch and the Sachiv of the Panchayat was significant in linking new technology to government social housing programs and the role of masons and families was critical in ensuring that new technology is accepted and innovated upon (as in introducing Aara in the houses by the masons) during dissemination. Emphasis was laid on the importance of effective communication of benefits of technologies – cost – benefit analysis as well as ill effects of not using toilets in such programs.
Here is clearly a model that has been built upon the government social housing scheme and indicates possible improvements on the scheme itself in the modes of delivery, in the introduction of advanced construction technology, in ensuring that local skills are developed so that subsequent houses can all benefit from the technology and it does not remain at demonstration stage, and in enthusing a process wherein the village as awhole has accepted the fact that the grant is a mere assistance and in order to benefit from the available benefits of the scheme, self initiative and inputs in terms of savings and labour is necessary.
Sri Ram Raja Gaushala – an energy company in the making.
A self help group of village women have taken charge of 200 stray cattle under the govt. Gaushala scheme. While milk is not a product – this unique initiative looks at an energy supply infrastructure for small livelihood generation using the cow-dung and also providing support for fodder security and breed improvement for cows in the village.
Currently, the Cluster of self help groups that have come together under the umbrella of the Sri ram raja gaushala are looking after 200 cows in a well organized manner with space for pregnant and new mother cows, sick / unwell cows and general cows. The dung is fed into a digester to generate bio-gas that runs an improvised engine to produce electricity. A single phase 5KVA engine provides electricity for running a masala unit and will soon also run a chilling plant.
In addition, the slurry is converted into compost and vermin-compost, there is potential of using vermi-wash which provides additional high levels of nutrients. The Gaushala is developing Amrit mitti – soil enrichment using dung for increasing the potency of local soil. Gaumutra – cow urine is now being developed as natural pesticide – Amrit Jal. All these would / and have the potential to add on the Gaushala’s business economics. There is also the activity of improving the local breed through cross fertilization with high quality bulls – an activity that the Gaushala has initiated.
The use of non-milch cows for energy production through dung and the value addition to dung and cow urine and the connected fodder, farming processes was appreciated as a highly significant rural livelihoods activity. Can this energy center provide electricity to homes? Maybe if it is in greater proximity to the village.
The key to this initiative was the unity of the women’s groups in SHG’s, the link that was established between people’s needs and an available govt. scheme along with significant technical services of the DA group.
The plant needs to improve energy efficiency and technology inputs for the engine are required.
There are also plants where the filling is done once in six months. This information will be brought from the team currently in filed in the Vidharbha trail. There is much in the are of technological improvement that can further be brought in. This would improve the viability of the system.