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Link Workers in the Haryana Community Forestry Project

In the state of Haryana, with its low sex ratio and literacy levels especially among women, INDCARE accepted the Haryana Community Forestry Project with Haryana Forestry Department promoted by European Commission in 2004.

Haryana Community Forestry Project (HCFP) works towards the development as well as the rejuvenation of the forest resources of Haryana. The project, along with other aspects, involves economic upgradation of the underprivileged section ofthe villagers. For the success and sustainability of natural resource management, it is important to involve the community and build their capacity in the same. The objective of the upgradation of the underprivileged also calls for this type of participatory activities.

This focuses on the roles and responsibilities of Link Workers, with particular reference to the needs of women. Women, either due to lack of awareness, knowledge, education and proper direction or due to the lack of resources, remain underprivileged and are not able to access the existing resources in the area for their upliftment. The voices of women are not always heard. Due to irregular income sources and lack of savings, women are unable to access various loan schemes initiated by different organisations. Looking at the need, HCFP commenced the Self-Help Group (SHG) strategy within its activity line. In SHGs, women are motivated and mobilised for their economic development and improved social status.

Keeping in mind the objectives, Haryana Community Forestry Project (HCFP) has played an important role while involving various stakeholders ranging from individuals, communities, local leaders, local bodies etc. and the expertise of various NGOs. With the participation of all these at different points of time, lots of development activities have been initiated. Through these, the project has established an example as to how people from different walks of life can be involved for the overall and sustainable development of the society.

To establish a link with the grassroots level, HCFP introduced a cadre called ‘Link Workers’, who belong to the same community but have some distinct qualities in them in relation to the objectives of the project. It was observed that if the Link Workers are trained in a proper manner, they could play a vital role not only for the formation and strengthening of the community groups for the promotion of community forestry and preservation of the same, but also for the sustainability and growth after the withdrawal of the external agencies. This  would thus provide them with a tool to plan their activities ahead with respect to the implementation of the programme and achieve the desired and effective outcomes, leading to sustainability at the grassroots level, with the active participation of the beneficiaries, both men and women.
Impact at the grassroot level - Vermi Composting

The primary objective of the project was:

  • To help women set up micro-enterprises based on vermiculture technology, in villages of Hissar, to improve their economic and social status.

The secondary objectives included:

  • Improving soil fertility and food productivity through ecological methods of farming, including organic nutrient recycling.
  • Improving village cleanliness by promoting the use of waste recycling (thus reducing the amount of waste strewn in the village).

The Hissar District, with three blocks – Sirsa, Fatehabad and Hissar, was selected for the first stage of the project. Thus women Self-Help Groups concept was promoted through formulation of 34 groups with nearly 700 women in them. These women were involved in income generation activities for their socio-economic development at their own end. Income generation activities have been carried out which are shop keeping, pickle and badi (nuggets) making, toy making etc but one of the cases has been a unique activity – Vermi-Composting.

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