Backward community in Khagaria district lives with the certainty that the monsoon season will bring kind of suffering and loss. The question is, how much? Farmland flooded with local river water and homes torn apart their life. Villages in Khagaria is surrounded by seven rivers, Most of them are originating from Nepal namely, Koshi, Baghmati, Gandak, Kamla, Ganga, Budhi Gandak, Ghaghara and these receive huge quantity of rainy water from higher parts of state. So Khagaria is a highly flood-prone district.
At Khagaria District, community belongs to marginal farmers and agricultural labourers. Agriculture has had the main occupation and maize and wheat is major crop of the locality. Poor communities suffer food scarcity during disaster every year. They were not able to manage their livelihood in disaster flood situation. The poor/vulnerable communities are the worst hit during disaster. Recurrent flood wipes out their earned assets in one go, pushing them once again in the vicious cycle of poverty. After our intervention in the resilience building initiative facilitated by SSP and supported by Misereor, SHG members has started learning the practices in disaster resilience initiative and climate change adaptation with peer communities. Initiating resilience building practices that enhance community to address local development, risk and vulnerability through strengthening local partnership, vulnerability mapping, secure livelihoods and local food security, grassroots communities in Khagaria joined together to bring changes in their local settings.
In order to address food security, it is necessary to enhance community capability to undertake activities which helps to reduce their risks and vulnerabilities. After mapping and learning exchanges with peer groups, attending workshops and trainings, the community initiated the approach of established collective agriculture to support livelihood and food security. At Chotti Balha village, cultivation agriculture has created good impact with community for the last 6 months. The community received Rs.15000 as demo fund under the resilience building initiatives.
After receiving the fund, community decided to start collective vegetable cultivation on leased land. They took 5 khatta land on lease at the rate of Rs. 3,000 per year. Climate was favoring them, they got good profit of Rs. 10,000 from the 1st crop. This was really a changing phase of women’s life. Encouraged from the group vegetable cultivation, they are planning to take more land on lease (atleast 10 khatta) and expand the group vegetable cultivation to more area.
Motivated women leader told that they have no fear of livelihood scarcity during and after disaster. It is through collective action that community women get an exposure to protect families and surroundings. The local resources which are unseen earlier become accessible. Monthly meeting, increasing the savings, internal lending, repayments of rupees on regular basis, not only promote thrift among members but also encourage unity among them. Thus community women build such capacities can help them shielded from livelihood scarcity that disasters bring with them.
“Earlier our life was very miserable. We were struggling to feed our children and family during disaster. Now we are thinking collectively and working united for common cause. We never thought we can do this activity with success and recognition.”
After showing the initiative as a group, they are attending workshops and meetings organized by NGOs. One of such meeting was conducted with local PRI member and block officer. After hearing the story of women groups about their experience in group farming practices, block officer visit village and SHG group with local Panchayat Mukhya and provided support from MNREGA for village road repair with partnership of SHG groups. Block agriculture Department provides training on new agriculture practices to save money, reduce investment and get good production.
Lessons and Achievements
- Women groups produced good harvest and marginal income from the collective agriculture.
- More women leaders emerged from neighboring villages and started group initiatives in Bhariyahi, chooti blaha and Purvithatha villages using resilience fund.
- Learning exchange and workshop was very useful for women members to start new agriculture practice in this area.
- Gram Panchyat started work partnership with SHG women lead member.
- Women lead member are attending gram sabha meeting and approved DRR plan by gram Sabah
- Three village different module use of reliance fund.
- Women member are prepared compost then sale for other farmers