The Halcrow Foundation is helping to fund a project that will bring transformative and sustainable improvement to the lives of 2,500 families in West Bengal.
The project is run by a Traidcraft Exchange, a UK charity that supports vulnerable people across Africa and South Asia. It will establish 125 women-led organisations, and give them training and support to improve their farm management practices by adopting water-saving technologies and making sustainable incomes. As well as improving food security, the project will increase household income, encourage climate-resilient farming and improve the women’s access to government support.
The communities benefitting from Halcrow Foundation funds live in Birbhum, one of the poorest districts in India. Most of the population belongs to marginalised tribal and caste social groups and are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Seasonal unemployment forces the male family members to migrate to urban areas for work, which leaves the women to shoulder the agricultural activities along with household chores.
Changing climate conditions
The population is made more vulnerable by changing climate conditions which result in lesser and erratic rainfall. This also impacts on their food security as it reduces the growth and productivity of crops. Many of the project’s beneficiaries are sharecroppers as they have very limited ownership of the land and water resources. The government has initiated small-scale irrigation structures under the Rural Employment Programme, however facilities are limited, and only 8-10 per cent of the area is under irrigation.
Low literacy levels, limited knowledge of farming systems, lack of access to government social security schemes and technology, and less negotiating power are all barriers to improving the women’s livelihoods, which makes it difficult for them and their families to escape the cycle of poverty.
Resilient, prosperous communities
Halcrow Foundation funds will help cover the cost of training and activities to improve farming practices, including partial staff costs. These include increasing the efficient use of water, crop planning and engaging the whole community – all of which will be driven by grassroots, women-led organisations and supported by Traidcraft Exchange and its local delivery partner, PRASARI.
The Halcrow Foundation aims to preserve Halcrow’s engineering legacy by bringing sustainable improvement to people’s lives by nurturing resilient, prosperous communities. Through our partnership with Traidcraft Exchange, we’re helping to establish women’s groups that are experienced in improved farming practices and technologies, and more resilient to the effects of climate change. They will also have a strong, collective voice to help them thrive and become a permanent feature in their communities.
About Traidcraft Exchange
Traidcraft Exchange is an international development charity which has used the power of trade to bring about lasting solutions to poverty for more than 30 years. It supports vulnerable groups, and delivers projects in East Africa and South Asia that helps producers and farmers develop their businesses, find markets, engage effectively in trade and become more resilient in the face of climate change.