Watershed Organisation Trust launches a new watershed development project in Odisha

Bhubaneswar : Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) a globally recognised organisation dedicated to transforming the lives of millions in rural areas, today inaugurated a new project focussed on watershed development in Gunupurblock, Rayagada district and Gumma block, Gajapati district in Odisha. The inauguration event held at Perenda village in Gunupur focused on the benefits of the holistic and ecosystem-based approach to watershed development developed by WOTR. The new project will be funded by Andheri-Hilfe Bonn (AHB), a German NGO working for social-economic development of underprivileged people.

The ceremony, called the ‘Wasundhra Gram Vikas Karyakram’, witnessed the presence of local administration representatives, panchayat members, the rural community, and officials from WOTR and AHB. Under this new project, WOTR will run various watershed management, irrigation development, climate resilient agriculture, drinking water, sustainable livelihood, women empowerment and child growth, community mobilization and capacity building and FPO promotion programmes for villagers in 39 villages of Gunupur and Gumma blocks in the next 45 months. The project will cover an area of over 11,000 hectares and impact around 15,000 people. The Pune-based NGO, WOTR is on a mission to change the lives of villagers by uniting and organizing them towards common issues – land degradation and water scarcity to bring sustainable development.

Talking about the launch of the new project, Prakash Keskar, Executive Director, Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) said, “We are committed to water and soil conservation to bring sustainable development in rural areas across the country. Our new project will build linkages with various government departments and agencies and provide training and capacity building to all, with a focus on the poor and the marginalised. We will also aim to improve market linkages through FPOs and provide customised agriculture advisories to each farmer in the region.”

Under this programme, WOTR will design and execute the watershed development interventions, provide training and capacity building inputs to cover areas such as water management, climate resilient agriculture, sustainable livelihoods, woman empowerment, nutrition and child growth monitoring. WOTR will also be introducing FarmPrecise, a mobile app that provides dynamic weather-based, crop management advisories tailored to crop and farm specific conditions in these villages. The FarmPrecise App is already being used by around 42,000 farmers from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana. The App is initially being introduced in the Gajapti, Ganjam, Kalahandi and Kandhamal districts, with plans to gradually extend the service to the entire state

Other keynote speakers at the inauguration event included, RajKumar Toppo, Andheri Hilfe Bonn (AHB), agriculture experts from Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Sandip Jadhav, Director, WOTR and the sarpanchs of Bajel and Kalkote gram panchayats. RajKumar Toppo stressed on the importance of local participation and community ownership to the success of the program and reflected on the success of the partnership between AHB and WOTR for such rural development programmes in several states, over the past 25 years.

WOTR started operations in Odisha in 2012. Aiming to reduce poverty, WOTR is running integrated watershed development and sustainable livelihood programmes in 108 villages of Gunupur and Padampur blocks in Rayagada district, and Digapohandi, Chikiti , Purosattampur blocks in Ganjam district and Gumma block of Gajapati districts. With malnutrition being a major concern in this region, WOTR also executes programmes to look after the health of 0–5-year-old children & empower mothers. The organisation has also successfully completed a project implemented for 14 villages across 3 blocks of Ganjam district. WOTR has supported NGO-implemented watershed projects in 118 villages of Gajapati district, covering an area of 25,773 hectares, impacting over 29,256 people.