Livelihood augmentation in rainfed areas – A strategy handbook for practitioners by Development Support Centre

This strategy handbook deals with livelihood augmentation in rainfed areas.

Cover Image It is a compilation of ongoing, successful strategies piloted and upscaled by a range of development agencies in different parts of the country. The handbook is presented in four volumes under a common framework and focus on initiatives related to: participatory natural resource management; rural entrepreneurship development; use of information communication technology and institution development.

About 400 million rural poor reside in about 200 poorest districts of the country that constitute rainfed areas. Scientific research has revealed a vast untapped potential in rainfed agriculture where crop yields are lower than their potential by two to five fold. A large number of innovative projects and ideas have been tried to address this issue, although documentation has been uneven and fragmented. Drawing upon such experiences, the handbook points towards new vistas and untapped opportunities in meeting the challenge of enhancing food security with limited water resources and improving the carrying capacities of rainfed areas to match the rapidly increasing populations in these regions and elsewhere.

Each volume presents a selection of best practices, articulation of basic principles, and description of strategies that are working on the ground -

  • Volume I: Strategies Based on Natural Resource Management deals with experiences of improving livelihoods through investments in the natural resource base. This includes both watershed development initiatives as well as specialized NRM interventions for areas where watershed development may not be possible or even relevant. It describes natural resource based strategies such as watershed development, community forestry, lift irrigation, animal husbandry and wasteland development. Download here
  • Volume II: Entrepreneurial Strategies for Augmenting Rural Livelihoods provides experiences of augmenting livelihoods through market-led interventions, including interventions that address market imperfections and those that seek to tap or create market opportunities. Strategies for value-chain interventions are discussed as a special case of market-led interventions. These seek to augment livelihoods of the poor and marginalized through interventions at different nodes of the value chain by forming strategic alliances with different stakeholders/players in the chain. Download here
  • Volume III: Catching the Virtual Bus: ICT for Augmenting Rural Livelihoods puts together the knowledge gleaned from innovative approaches to augment rural livelihoods through the use of ICT. ICT helps to augment livelihoods, especially of the educated youth by creating new opportunities in the service sector. Although ICT applications encompass all aspects of rural life, the volume focuses more on those that enable creation of human capital and livelihood augmentation. It deals with ICT enabled strategies such as plot-specific farm advisories, market intelligence services, inclusive finance, and opportunities like rural BPO in the emerging ICT-led service sector. Download here
  • Volume IV on Creating Social Capital for Livelihood Interventions dwells on strategies to build capacities of rural communities to implement livelihood programmes and maintain productive assets. Social capital building is a cross-cutting theme for all developmental interventions because it helps empower the people to take charge of their own developmental trajectories. Peoples Institutions help to oversee the maintenance of common assets after the completion of the project. Download here

Check Dam

While each volume can be read as a stand-alone. It is, however, best read in conjunction with the other volumes for a more holistic understanding of the livelihood augmentation processes. The structure of the presentation varies somewhat from volume to volume, depending on the nature of content. A navigation chart presented at the beginning brings out the connections between different parts and chapters of the volume. The index at the end of each volume helps the reader locate matter of his/her particular interest with relative ease.

Each volume comprises a) selected case studies of best practices, b) articulation of basic principles and ethical values and c) description of strategies. It also provides an understanding of why particular strategies work better in particular situations. The basic principles and strategies are derived from analyses of the case studies and other experiences and represent the transition from practice to theory. Analytical tools and frameworks used to understand strategies are included in the theory section.

Human interest stories and checklists of various types are presented as Box items.Water Conservation Additional information has been provided in the Annexures, keeping in mind the need of the practitioner. The annexures of each volume includes a glossary of technical terms, a resource guide and a guide to key resource institutions. The Resource Guide is in the form of an annotated bibliography of other guide books and references that a practitioner may find useful to pursue a particular strategy. Several of these are in the nature of ‘how-to-do’ books, covering related sectors and providing technical information, beyond the purview of this handbook. A guide to Key Resource Institutions, with contact details and short descriptions of their important projects/programmes, is also included.

The development of the handbook was facilitated by Development Support Centre, and supported by Aga Khan Foundation through the European Union funded SCALE Programme. The Aga Khan Foundation and Development Support Centre launched the handbook on 19th May 2011 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. In addition to broadening the vision of practitioners, it is hoped that the handbook will support policy makers and researchers in strengthening ongoing programmes.

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