Academy of Root Development Australia Inc  

Women's Empowerment in Indian Villages

A Programme of Academy of Root Development (Australia) Incorporated

Incorporated Association (NSW) INC9887920, ABN: 18 446 710 511
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Rural 1

Rural 2


World Environment Day

IWD Rally


The Environment:
Most people of this area are marginal farmers with an average land-holding of 0-2 acres. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood, but the single rain fed cereal crops are unable to feed most families for more than six months of the year. There is a small quantity of millet, pulse and sugarcane grown on marginal soils. There is no scientific agriculture undertaken in the area and there is no facility for irrigation of crops during the dry season.

The region is characterised by alluvial soil. The best soils range from fertile rice -growing soils of the plains to that on the gentle slopes used for the cultivation of millet. Loss of fertility is inherent in both these soil types. Annual recycling of biomass by deciduous plant species is helping to restore soil fertility to some extent. The quality of soils is deteriorating because of dwindling tree numbers and the increasing use of chemical fertilisers in an attempt to increase productivity.

Climate and Rainfall:
The climate of the region is characterised by three distinct seasons: Summer (March to June), Monsoon (July to Sept./Oct.), and Winter (November to February). The temperatures range from a maximum of 42 degrees during summer to a minimum of 6 degrees during winter. The average annual rainfall is 3100mm, but most of this water runs into the river. Soils retain insufficient water due to the absence of trees in the catchment area. There is no artificial source for irrigation.

ARD Environmental Initiatives:
Domestic Waste Management: The project emphasises environmental awareness, followed by the demonstration of proper management of domestic wastes, including the introduction of vermi-culture compost pits, to remedy those systems that are currently causing environmental degradation and pollution.

In 2007, ARD received a grant from the Australian High Commission in India to implement a 12 month long domestic waste management program. Further trainings in Vermiculture have been given to the women and the knowledge and practices are being disseminated into the community through the Self Help Groups.

In conjunction with environmental awareness raising workshops, ARD is distributing fruit trees (mango, guava, amla) and medicinal trees to participants to strengthen community commitment to sustainable environmental practices. This initiative is generating a hands-on interest and take-up of sustainable agricultural and environmental systems and help to address situations where farmers are questioning the merits of organic agriculture.

The World Environment Day awareness raising programme has been presented since 2008 with help from the Cottonwood Foundation and the Rainforest Information Centre.

World Environment Day 2011:
The main target group were the women of the Self Help Groups, who will serve as a resource base for promoting environmentally friendly practices throughout the surrounding villages. Around 700 women participated the workshop and in addition 100 farmers also attended.
Output of the Training
1. A road map was designed in which the Panchayati Raj (local government) members together decide what schemes are to be designed for environment purposes with money allocated by the government.
2. A strong networking and liasoning was created between ARD and government officials who committed to assisting ARD in implementing environment-related work in Guraru Block.
3. SHG members were made aware of different environment issues in their area.
4. Government officers committed to extend their assistance for the plantation work planned by ARD for July.
5. SHG members shared the successful case studies of ARD in relation to environment issues which resulted in people knowing more of ARD’s work.

It was found that SHG members were very interested and highly enthusiastic about the workshop. Information regarding the impact of deforestation, excessive use of polythene and the ways in which people can preserve the natural resources were disseminated among the participants. The important role that civil society and the people of the villages have in preserving the environment was also discussed.

Women's Empowerment in Indian Villages

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Academy of Root Development is a not-for-profit charitable organisation that aims to bring equity and opportunity to rural villages in Bihar, India