The Dang region, located along the boundaries of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, runs north-south and northeast with the Chambal river stretching from Dholpur in the North, covering the major part of Karauli district to Sawai Madhopur district in the South. Dang region is one of the most resource deprived, and arid region of Rajasthan state marked with degraded ravines, barren land and severe water shortage. All these factors together have created challenges for the community to even engage with basic livelihood activities such as agriculture and livestock rearing.
Low farm yield and poor livestock productivity leads to pervasive poverty. Most farmers in the Dang region struggle hard even to fight hunger. Left with no alternative, many migrate as a wage labour and many work on daily wages in the stone mines. Due to the distress migration, these mine laborer’s often contract silicosisóa form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust and marked by inflammation and scarring of the lungs that can be fatal.
Community-based grassroots organization, GGS works for improving the livelihood conditions of the households in the Dang region. Registered under Rajasthan Society Registration Act, 1958, GGS has been working across 78 villages in this region. The rocky topography of the Dang poses two challenges for the community. First, the rocky landscape does not allow the water to seep through, thus, wasting the opportunity to recharge the ground water. Second, the steep incline results in a significant run off of the rainwater. On the other hand, such topography can be gainfully used for the storage of water.
The GGS team has been working on water and land conservation since 2001. It has revived the indigenous knowledge on water and soil conservation, and constructed traditional structures such as Pagara, Pokhar and Taal. Realizing the need for long term and sustainable development, community members contribute one-third to one-half of these structures construction costs.