Our Rural Development activities are extended in Uttara Kannada district mainly in Bhatkal, Honnavar, Kumata, and Ankola taluks. The focus is mainly on awareness for sustainable use of Natural Resources and empowerment of the poor and the needy. Following are some of the activities undertaken by our Trust.
Ecological restoration and sustainable forest management
Towards ecological restoration of tropical fresh water swamps
Tropical fresh water swamps (FWS) have been recognized as critically endangered habitats, prioritized for restoration in the Western Ghats. Many of these ecosystems are being degraded primarily due to human interference. Under a project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), we have undertaken the restoration of nine degraded patches of freshwater swamps in the central Western Ghats, India, adopting a participatory approach. Mapping of swamps using GIS (Geographic Information System), swamp categorization, active planting, establishing soil and moisture conservation units were done as part of the restoration. Local people were empowered through the creation of village forest committees, swamp restoration committees, and a community trust fund. Communities were technically empowered to collectively raise nurseries of swamp species for an operation level planting. Complementary skills and resources from different institutions and individuals have been brought together in pursuit of a common goal of freshwater swamp conservation.
Following are the important activities carried throughout the project period.
Training and awareness creation on FWS to front line Forest Department staff and local community organization like Village Forest Committees (VFCs).
- Emphasized the implicit significance, unique elements and traditional knowledge associated with swamps in order to drive down their credence
Nursery raising of FWS species in a larger scale through the state forest department and use them in restoration work by active planting Involve and empower local communities and ensure their long term participation in conservation and management of FWS.
- Mapping fresh water swamps and critical micro-corridors linking these swamps and drainage pattern from uphill landscapes as well as identifying the threats for these systems.
- Characterizing the swamp fragments and micro-corridors for species composition.
- Understand the resource usage pattern by the local people and developing an enrichment protocol.
- Standardizing protocol for propagation of swamp species through participatory approach.
- Creation of micro-corridors through enrichment planting and through creation of new swamp populations such that habitat is also recovered.
- Classification of fresh water swamps based on the ecological characters.
- Assess and monitor the success of newly created reference ecosystem of fresh water swamps.
Coastal Conservation Enterprise and Livelihood League
Snehakunja Trust was one of the three partners in this project the other two being Dakshina Kannada Parisarasakta Okkoota and Fisheries College Mangalore.
The project involved coastal conservation, livelihood and research. The activities of Snehakunja included
a) Mangrove conservation and aforestation through awareness and demonstration and
b)Enterprise Development. Two villages in Kumata taluka viz. Hoskatta and Aigalakurve were adopted for this purpose. The project was supported by Ford Foundation and coordinated by CCD Madurai.
Following activities were conducted under the project.
- Mangrove Aforestation : 10,500 mangrove seedlings planted at Aigalkoorve and 3000 casuarinas planted at Dhareshwar.
- Women’s self help groups have been trained in fisheries based enterprise activities.
- A group of fishermen in Aghanashini has started tourism activity with financial support from the project.
- Awareness Programme on Artificial Reefs : was organized for the fisher community of Dhareshwar and Aghanashini.
Vanasamvardhana Scheme: Jointly with Forest Dept. Snehakunja has been instrumental in planting more than one lakh trees in 4 costal taluks of Uttara Kannada in a span of 3-4 years.
Bio fuel Planting :Under Suvarna Bhumi state govt programme, planting of Biofuel plants was done in the lands of 87 farmers spread in 5 costal taluks. Under KSBD programme Suvarna Bhoomi Bio-fuel plants were given to 850 farmers approx. 60000 saplings were planted in all costal talukas of Uttara Kannada District.
Promoting Organic Farming:
With the support of State Dept. of Agriculture, Savayava Grama Yojane (organic village project) has been initiated since 2009. Currently two villages in Honnavar taluk and two in Karwar taluk have been selected for initiating organic farming.
Following activities have been conducted under the project.
- Trainings were conducted on capacity building, processing, post harvest technology, Value Addition and Marketing, of organic produce.
- Financial support was givan for making compost pits, vermi compost pits, purchase of cattle, vegetable cultivation, cattleshed repair work and neem cake distribution.
- Bee keeping units, Azola pots, Drums for preparation of organic pesticides were given for subsidized rates.
- Farmers were taken for an exposure tour to Dharwad Krishi Mela and Ullal cashew research station.
- Kshetrotsava was celebrated on the 11th of March 2010. Mr. Shivanand Kalave and Mr. A. M. Rao spoke on Bio diversity of Uttara Kannada and Herbal Home Medicines respectively. Mr. Nandihalli, AD Agri, Mr. S. V. Hegde Agri. Officer, Jatti Gouda and Manjunath Naik were felicitated on the occasion.
- Organic certification for second year 2010-11. ICS is completed.
Women’s Empowerment Programmes:
- Women Self Help Groups: More than 250 SHGs have been formed to empower the women. Most of these groups have undergone SHG management training programmes where in they are trained to keep accounts, procedure of acquiring loans, maintaining minutes of meetings. Members of self help groups do not have to depend on bankers for their financial requirements. Many women have started home based enterprises using their savings in self help groups.
- Income Generation Training Programmes for SHG members: Under the support of DST.Govt.of India, our SHG women have taken training in Bee keeping, Jack fruit papad preparation, Cocum juice preparation, Prawn chutney powder and pickle making.
- Social Awareness: Our women have been instrumental in closing unauthorised arrack shops of 5 villages viz. Gabhit Keni, Hosapattana, Upponi, Haladipura, Hertar.
- Dental and Health Camps: community based dental and health camps are organised in our working areas at least once a year.
- Responsible Fisheries : Awareness meetings on Responsible fisheries and personal hygiene were organised at Tadari harbour area with the support of NETFISH. Totally 36 programmes and free medical camps were conducted for the benefit of fisher community.
- Navajeevana (project for persons with disability) : With financial support from Sir. Dorabji Tata Trust, we organised training programmes with a view to enable marginally handicapped to start self employment. 40% of the candidates trained under this project have been able to gain employment. This project also involved establishment of a physiotherapy unit in the hospital run by our Trust.
- People’s Audit: With a view to document the impact of the development projects initiated in Uttara Kannada district, on the environment and livelihood of the natives a study was conducted in the year 2010, in places where development activities had already taken place and places where such activities were proposed. The study reports were put before a panel consisting of renowned environmentalists, activists and experts. Representatives from the affected and likely to be affected areas expressed their grievances and concerns regarding the development projects. The participants were unanimous in decrying the present state of affairs in the district. While demanding proper compensation and rehabilitation for the unaccounted victims of major and minor projects they opined that:
- There should be a moratorium on any major projects and large industries involving natural resources of the district like water, forests, farmlands, estuaries or marine ecosystems.
- The costal zones should not be used as a transit zone for export of minerals and other materials.
- Fragmentation of forests should not be allowed in the name of additional power lines or highways or railway tracks.
- There should be no place earmarked for long term storage of nuclear wastes.
- While tourism and hospitality should be encouraged, care should be taken to ensure they do not become the scourge on the landscape of this district.
- The very definition of Economic Development should be altered for this region.