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Natural Resources

Seva Mandir works in a region which is highly vulnerable to climate change. A World Bank Group report in 2018, on South Asia’s Hotspots, classified the region as a moderate hotspot zone. Evidence from various climate science studies points to the negative effects which a rise in average temperature has on people’s living standards, and shows that inland areas like southern Rajasthan are particularly severely affected.

Our work area is located in the Aravalli hills. This hilly region receives an average annual rainfall of 630 mm which is not evenly distributed throughout the year, and it experiences drought every three to five years.  This is a high water-stress zone with the supply of water from rainfall not meeting demands for agriculture, household consumption and other uses.

60% of the land in the region is common land, in the form of forest, revenue wasteland and pastures, which are not privately owned. With the increased human-induced pressure on the environment over decades, and now the threat of climate change, the commons is under serious threat. This leads to deforestation, encroachment and conflict, with the result that land and water sources have been degraded and social fragmentation deepened. 67% of the land is undergoing rapid degradation and desertification. Since 95% of the people in rural areas are dependent on land and water for their livelihood, this constitutes an imminent threat to their livelihood security.

80% of people in the region we work in live in rural areas and depend mostly on subsistence agriculture and livestock rearing. 84% of the farmers are small and marginal farmers with two hectares of land or less, with only about half fit for cultivation. Most families cannot produce enough food grains from their farms to last them for the whole year. A report by the UN World Food Programme states that Udaipur district is the least food-secure area in Rajasthan. As a result, 56% of households have at least one member, usually the male household head, migrating for casual labouring work away from their village to meet their household food consumption and income needs.

Agriculture in the area is mostly rain-fed with only 23% of the cultivated area under irrigation. As a result, most farmers are able to farm in only one season. Even for farmers who have access to irrigation, many do not have sufficient water to irrigate a winter crop (which would give them a second crop in the year). Such scarcity of water leads to either low crop productivity or crop failure.

The poor status of food and water security reinforces the vicious cycle of poverty in the region.

Seva Mandir has been working for decades to tackle these challenges.

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