If local communities are to take care of the forests and wildlife they live with, they need to develop a sense of responsibility as their custodians. This is possible if they feel empowered in the first place.
Being economically disadvantaged, falling below the poverty line and lacking access to modern resources, tribal villagers on the fringe of the Pench reserve are unable to raise themselves out of their poverty cycle.
Change is needed across several aspects of their lives.
CWT in conjunction with The Tata Institute of Social Sciences conducted a needs-based assessment with an aim to identify areas for entry-level interventions.
We established three interventions, ie education, health and livelihood, to begin with.
We believe that educating the youth to become problem solvers within the community, introducing alternative ways to generate income that is eco-friendly yet economically potent, and supporting and improving their health which makes them more productive workers, are the three main avenues in which we can enhance the relationship between the forests and the community.
The villagers are already showing signs of greater sensitivity to the environment, increased revenue and an overall improvement in well-being.
CWT is committed to capacity building by creating and strengthening SHGs. With these, we are empowering women, elderly and youth groups to use their skills for the community.
CWT is committed to following an evidence-based approach to its work in the field and engages with partners like TISS and GIST Advisory to facilitate this.
Along with TISS, our involvement includes conducting an initial assessment of community needs ie a participatory rural appraisal or PRA, capacity building through community organisation formation and strengthening, training field staff, quarterly monitoring of interventions and data collection.
Our partnership with GIST allows for us to translate numbers into something more meaningful. The intention of the valuation is to demonstrate whether our goal of greater wealth and well-being over a medium to long term for our disadvantaged communities is increasing through our various interventions.
With them, we measure the social return on investment (SROI) which is an evaluation of the impact on stakeholders to identify ways to improve OUR performance, weighted SROIs to understand what interventions yield good results, and GDP of the poor to understand the contribution of natural resources and ecosystem services to livelihoods and well-being of the disadvantaged communities.