Ecology and Rural Development

imatgepag: 

Our goal is to ensure a secure livelihood by promoting sustainable and profitable agricultural practices, namely making land arable and promoting efficient water management.

In Anantapur district, the low, sporadic rainfall means that the risk of drought is inevitable. The district is the second driest in India and an area in which agriculture is the main source of subsistence. Due to factors such as a lack of adequate soil and moisture conservation measures, the prevalence of degraded and eroded soils, groundnut monoculture, the dependence on rainfed farming, use of traditional agriculture practices such as flood irrigation, and excess use of fertilizers and pesticides, farmland has become unproductive.

In 1987, the Foundation implemented an ecological development plan (covering different key areas and ensuring the future of the families in the region) that sought to address these issues by raising public awareness about eco-regeneration and the environment. This plan included extending crop diversification, promoting effective water management through harvesting rainwater and efficient micro-irrigation systems, and planting more land with natural vegetation and tree cover. Our ecological initiatives promote the participation of women and improve their quality of life through enhanced access to water for domestic purposes.

What we do:

  • Promote sustainable and profitable agriculture through crop diversification.
  • Increase access to water with a view to guaranteeing agricultural subsistence through water infrastructures and efficient irrigation systems.
  • Improve the environment and the chances for future generations by reforesting the region's dry and semi-desert lands.
  • Raise awareness about the use of the land and water management.

 

Rural Development:

In addition, we implement a series of programs that affect the economy of our communities in various ways:

What we do:

Development Fund for Women

The creation of a domestic bank by the Vicente Ferrer Foundation allows the provision of microcredits for the development of programs for income generating and to set up their own businesses. The loan from the Development Fund for Women that will be granted to women of the shangams who have demonstrated their self-management ability, will serve to undertake projects such as the purchase of buffaloes, and the sale of milk or incense sticks for resale, among other things. The activity consists in the provision of microcredits ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 rupees to start projects that should be supported and managed by the women of the shangam. All of them are responsible for repaying the loan at 0% interest rate on the agreed time, and collaborate on the common savings project.

In 2009, 28.745 women used the Development Fund for Women, according to data from the 2009 Annual Report.

 

Woman to Woman

One step further goes the 'Woman to Woman' program designed to help the shangams that have proved to work well with the Development Fund for Women to save. Anyone can work with the women's organizations of the Foundation. By making a monthly donation of €9, women can save and use that money in what they consider convenient. The program allows them having a savings account, open an account for their daughters and participate in a community health fund. Thus, women get independence to manage their own money and that of their daughters, and are guaranteed basic health care through a network of hospitals and rural clinics. Each woman decides the activity where she wants to invest her money, always under the supervision of the group. This way, the shangams are also a forum for discussion of financial issues and create a network of community trust to the extent that many men begin to value their women and appreciate their contributions.

In 2009, 1.898 women received this support, according to data from the 2009 Annual Report.

 

Workshops: practical job training

Women aged 17-40 years that are part of a consolidated shangam have the opportunity to join training projects to get a regular job and increase their self-esteem and social respect. Women from Anantapur and Kurnool, mostly working in the fields or at home, are not guaranteed a steady income. With these workshops, they have the opportunity to learn skills, set up a small business and earn a regular salary. The workshops of the Foundation range from incense sticks, embroidery, 'kalamkari', binding or the newly opened 'sanitary napkins' workshop. There are also similar training projects for women victims of trafficking in persons or widows.

Colaboración Activa (Active Cooperation) is the name given to the solidarity trade of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, a program that aims to combat the severe discrimination faced by disabled dalit women in Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh). Through Colaboración Activa, we offer another way to be supportive: a responsible business cycle in which the final buyer shows social, cultural and human commitment.

 

Land development

Marginal farmers belonging to dalit and tribal communities own a piece of dry land given to them by the government. However, some part of the lands are often not cultivable as they contain heaps of big boulders or stones and thorny blushes. We’ve been extending help to such families to take up measures of land development using both manual labour and machinery for the past 6 years.