Livelihood Development in Sagar Block

Livelihood Development
Livelihood Development

Sagar Block under South 24 Parganas district consists of Sagar Island and Ghoramara Island. Sagar block is facing the problem of soil erosion, breach of embankments and loss of landmass and rising sea levels. Sagar Block represents almost the entire livelihoods spectrum of the Sundarbans and in these backdrop livelihood interventions for the coastal community in Sagar Block under ICZMP has been taken up. The main objective of the livelihood development component is to promote community-based climate resilient livelihood options for improvement in the quality of life and livelihood of the poor, a vulnerable and marginalized section of the coastal populace along with conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems.

Livelihood development programme for the disadvantaged section of the inhabitants of Sagar Block is being implemented by SPMU and West Bengal State Rural Livelihood Mission (WBSRLM).

SPMU on its own has executed 128 community contracts through SHGs as part of Entry Point Activity for the creation of micro coastal infrastructure. Major works completed through Entry Point Activities include construction of 19 km of brick paved road, the sinking of 78 tube wells, construction of 4 culverts, one toilet block and excavation of 7 pounds. It may be appropriate to mention that usually developmental works of this nature are being directly implemented by the line departments. However, in case of ICZMP, the pilot intervention has been done through mobilization of the SHGs in a consultative process. The assets were created with the deployment of PRA tools and extensive consultation with varied stakeholders at the community level.

The implementations of the Entry Point Activities have not only augmented the drinking water facilities but also have improved connectivity with the main roads of the islands. It also happens to be a knowledge building exercise of the coastal community in terms of accounting, estimate preparation, procurement of materials, community contracting and auditing of the assets created both in financial and physical terms. Entry Point Activities have smoothened the process of community-level collectivization and have enhanced the sense of ownership of community assets. Intervention has proved that despite being in a disadvantaged position for harnessing of resources in remote estuarine zones if nurtured communities do reciprocate in asset creation by contributing in terms of land, labor and other associated logistics.

WBSRLM - a PEA of this Project is directly financing the livelihood enhancement activities as well as the mobilization of the CBO’s. The entire scheme of activities implemented through WBSRLM is:-

  • Financing the women SHGs through seed capital as part of Community Investment Fund (CIF) for taking up livelihood generation activities up to a limit of Rs 1 lakh.
  • Providing financial support through Revolving Fund of Rs. 15,000.00 per SHG directly after its first grading. Revolving fund will help SHGs to leverage bank loan/ cash credit.
  • Capacity Building of the community related to community-based institution building and skill enhancement.

In this regard, ICZMP’s fund being routed through WBSRLM is transferred to the federated body of CBO’s referred to as ‘Sangha’ for onward lending to its member SHGs. The Sanghas have disbursed Community Investment Fund to 2009 SHGs covering 8049 women SHG members for taking up their respective livelihood enhancement activities e.g betel vine cultivation, poultry, fishery-related activities and etc. Sanghas have disbursed Rs 5.37 crore as Community Investment Fund to its member SHGs and the said corpus revolved to 16.56 cr as on date. A sample study on 638 SHGs covering 2912 households’ shows income generated to the tune of Rs 15.95 cr, after utilizing 4.55 cr of CIF.

Revolving Fund amounting to Rs 1.97 cr has been transferred to the bank account of 1334 SHGs as a corpus to meet the SHG members’ credit needs and also as catalytic capital for leveraging repeat bank finance.

Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) techniques are being applied for better management of livelihood, especially in the farm sector. CMSA promotes usage of natural resources to manage agriculture and ARD production. The special impetus was provided under CMSA for organic farming and production of bio-fertilizers of varied types.

The livelihood interventions through WBSRLM were also calibrated and converged with other govt. schemes/ depts i.e. MGNREGA, Agriculture Dept ( providing the subsidized green net for betel vine cultivation), Animal Resource Dept ( engagement of Prani Mitra for vaccination and deworming of cattle, along with the capacity building of various stakeholders) coupled with bank linkages over 2800 SHGs for accessing cash credits from banks.

The outcome of the interventions may be summarized as easier access to credit, empowerment of the poor households especially of the womenfolk through enhancement of collective action, risk diversification along with poverty reduction in coastal areas through greater engagement in productive activities and orientation towards sustainable utilization of natural resources.

Community Based Plantation, JFM and Biodiversity Conservation Activities:

Coastal zones of Purba Medinipore are prone to inundation due to periodic storm and tidal surges, seasonal high-velocity winds, storms and cyclones, and erosion. In this backdrop to build community resilience and to mitigate the disasters caused by natural forces, ICZM Project in partnership with Forest Directorate has taken up several community-based interventions whose progress since inception are noted below:-

  • Plantation Activities: Farm Forestry: 705 ha, Mangrove: 100 ha. Strip Plantation: 40 ha Gap Plantation: 390ha CSB Plantation: 100 ha Palisade: 5500 mtr, Central Nursery:1
  • Joint Forest Management Activities: Paddy Thrasher -133, Van rickshaw-118, Sewing Machine- 167,Pump Machine-97, Submersible Pump based integrated drinking water and bathing facility-10, Tubewell for drinking water purpose -14, Desiltation of pond-1, Construction of rural concrete road - 300 mtr, Fish Insulator box with allied accessories-70, Spray machine- 56 Solar fish Dryer-11, Fertilizer for betel vine farming: 93 Beneficiaries, Distribution of Pigling-18, Fishling-105, Duckling (10 no per beneficiary)-575 and Chicken (10 no per beneficiary)-1290 Beneficiaries.
  • Coastal Biodiversity Conservation Activities: Construction of Animal Rescue Center and Patrolling camps.
  • Capacity Building Activities for trade specific skill enhancement of the coastal community.

The aforesaid activities piloted by the Forest Directorate through community contracting approach with 20 Forest Protection Committees(FPC)/Eco-Development Committees (EDC) values to the tune of Rs. 6.34 cr in the following coastal blocks of Purba Mednipore i.e. Ramnagar- I, Contai I, Deshapran, Khejuri – II, Nandigram- I and Mahisadal.

Plantation of mangrove and palisade works has contained coastal erosion and shoreline stabilization by way of sediment deposition in the nearshore area and intertidal zone. Plantations are also acting as natural bio- shields against strong winds that sometimes lead to loss of life and property. Plantation Activity has also provided wage employment to the community in addition to replenishment of natural resources and consequent enrichment and enhancement of marine flora and fauna.

Drinking water facilities have been augmented to a considerable range in the intervened areas where saline ingression is an issue that affects the community at large.

Alternative livelihood has been given a boost through the procurement of varied farm and non-farm implements. Homestead backyard poultry, duckery, piggery were provided to the members of the FPC/EDCs in a bid to improve farm based resource production and stabilize the subsistence level of livelihood at the micro level.

Fishery based activities were promoted through community-owned/leased debilitation of ponds, distribution of fishlings and fish dryer machines. Community managed fish dryer machines are providing members of the FPCs/EDCs to offload more hygienically treated dried fishes to the market and reducing the waste factor.

Procurement and subsequent distribution of agri-implements had improved the level of the farm–mechanization and labor intensiveness and the surplus time accrued are now being divested in other productive means at the household level.

Wild life rescue and rehabilitation along with monitoring of the plantations have been improved through the creation of Animal Rescue Center and Patrolling camps.

The participative approaches of the interventions have touched the basic aspiration level of the coastal community and that is best manifested through the increasing eagerness of the coastal communities for becoming an integral part of ICZMP.