A year in UK
It was 2008 and I had already spend 3 years with Keystone Foundation, a very dynamic and vibrant organization at the quaint little town of kotagiri which Lonely planet describes as dusty and uninspiring (not that I affirm to the view) a journey to far off UK was not a very thought out decision at first.
When I first started working in Keystone I was more in awe at the small but strong model of livelihood conservation and enterprise at work. I was excited at the prospect of being a part of the process and contributing to it in any possible way. Given my research interests I was mostly into projects and roles suited to that. When we won the prestigious Darwin project the team realized the challenges of carrying out interdisciplinary research. The collaboration with leading institutes and researchers forced me to think about enhancing my own research skills which I felt would also benefit the organization and our own future direction of work. When keystone nominated me and I won the Joke Waller Hunter initiative which entitled me to a scholarship of 15k Euros I was elated. I had 15k Euros to spend on building my capacity. Since it was not enough for a 3 year PhD, I settled for a one year masters course in International Development Research at the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. (more…)
Thoughts on Annaipallam
We had a good round of meeting/s in Anaipallam earlier this week. The context was broadly forest management with one round of meetings to understand the current VFC system and another to discuss the operational details of the FRA.
We have been in touch with a group of 3 youth for the last 5-6 months during the FRA meetings in Pillur. These 3 along with some others farmers want to resetlle in Mel Pillur and hence their involvement in these meetings. One of these men, Malai Murugan also travelled with us to Orissa to look at community forestry there. On coming back, Anaipallam asked us to participate in a village meeting this week to discuss the FRA . The discussions with the village headman – Man Marudhan and some others threw up the idea of them wanting our help with setting up a godown and possibly a production centre in the village. The village has about 78 odd farmers with titled revenue land of about 2-3 acres on an average. There are also farmers owning only a few cents. (more…)
Visiting Community Forestry in Orissa
In the midst of the growing momentum around the Forest Rights Act here in the NBR, a group of us took off to visit community groups engaged in community forestry in Orissa. Our discussions on the FRA with the villages had thrown up the opportunities opened up by community rights over forest resources – to both access and govern these. But for many villages here, this possibility seemed to be not just novel but also too good to be true. So we thought it would help to speak to communities who have been governing their village forests.
Vasundhara, a Bhubhaneshwar based NGO working on forestry issues, organized our visits to meet groups in Nayagarh, Sambalpur and Deogarh. Over a week, we met and spoke to the Ma Maninag Jangal Surakhya Parishat, the Banaja Banijya Sangha and the Badrama Vikas Parishat – all community organizations engaged in forest goverance. We listened to stories of how forested hillocks had been rendered barren both by government policy and local negligence. And how villages, in some instances on their own, and in others with adjoining villages had resolved to start protectinng and regenerating their forests for their needs. They also shared with us their systems for mangement, institutionalized over the years – of tenga pali – the rotational system of each household taking up the forest protection beat, of rules for fuelwood collection for daily use and special occassions and of sanctions for transgression of rules. (more…)
BBC Newsweek World Challenge 08
Phew! That was a race but somehow, we fell a bit short – anyway, have a peek at what was shot by the team..