We work towards bringing prosperity with ecological security to rainfed areas; with a focus on poorer communities..

Over 50% of agriculture in India is primarily dependent on local rainfall and has no assurance of irrigation. These areas span the drylands, high rainfall tribal areas and hilly areas. In spite of contributing to national nutrition security (81% of pulses…. etc.), these areas remain poorer and highly vulnerable to climate variability.  (Go to www.rainfedindia.org)

Our Mission

Entrench participatory processes through network approach that strengthen Natural Resources Management (NRM) practices to secure livelihoods of deprived communities in drought prone areas.

Our Purpose

Articulate voices and needs of the people and agro-ecologies at margins, in the marginalized rainfed geographies, into public systems and policies to catalyse action at scale.

Our Mandate

Strengthen the civil society space, enable and build their capacities in working with communities and government, network and evolve a policy narrative from evidence and grass roots innovation.

Our Approach

Agroecology

Rainfed areas are diverse, fragile, ecologically stressed and vulnerable to climate variability. Agro-ecological approaches enhance resilience and system productivity; together with enhancing local economic capacity, it can bring prosperity to rainfed farmers and farm workers

Biodiversity

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Innovation

Diversity demands grassroots innovations specific to the locations. We believe that enhancing the ‘innovation capacity’ of local communities is a way to find appropriate solutions to their problems. We work to bring innovations in technology, processes and institutions, irrespective of their source, closer to communities.

Networking

Solutions to complex and diverse problems need to be co-created. Networking as an approach to co-creation of solutions or policy is one of our core values. We work and network with grass-roots organisations, researchers, governments and others to exchange knowledge and to enable a creative policy discourse for rainfed areas development.

Resilience with Growth

Climate variability and associated risks -  droughts in particular, are a core concern that we address. We understand that resilient mechanisms need to be built into the management of natural resources and their use in production.

Developing Capacities

We work at multiple levels - with communities on ground to, contributing to policy development. We believe in improving capacities of multiple actors and of systems in which they interface and function as the key to enhance effectiveness of social action.

Public Systems & Policy Development

Appropriate (and adequate) public investments, institutions and governance systems are much needed for the development of highly under-invested rainfed areas.Such systems need to be built upon compelling evidence and scientific analysis. Evidence based policy development and design of government programs for scaling up are core strategic elements of our approach.

Our Work Areas

Sustainable Natural Resources Management is key to survival in the fragile rainfed areas; production and livelihood systems need to be interconnected and reinforce the regenerative capacity of the soil, water, forest and livestock. We work for revitalising rainfed landscapes with watershed development as an approach. This entails working on diverse natural resources and the production systems in an integrated manner appropriate for rainfed areas.

Watershed Development

Water Resources

Natural farming

Seed Systems

Renewable Energy

Millets

Nutrition

Livestock

Backyard poultry

Biodiversity

Ease of Agriculture

Fisheries

Markets

WaSH

WASSAN Initiatives

WASSAN Foundation

An independent Section 8 non-for-profit company promoted by WASSAN to extend support services on consultancy basis, to partner with farmers’ organisations and others in promoting business solutions.

FarmEasy

Farm Easy : is a sub-unit of the WASSAN Foundation dedicated to innovate and promote solutions to make work easy for farmers and farmworkers.

Manyam Grains

Manyam Grains Pvt Ltd is a for-profit social enterprise promoted to specially focus on processing and marketing of Millets and its value added products as a service to farmers in tribal and dryland areas. WASSAN provides technical and incubation support pro bono.

Networks

Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network (RRA Network)

Instrumental in its promotion, WASSAN anchors the national Network Hub of the Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network

National Coalition on Natural Farming (NCNF)

Emerged as an expanded coalition of civil society organisations, researchers and others in mainstreaming Natural Farming. WASSAN anchors the Secretariat of the Coalition.

Partnership Programs with Governments

Andhra Pradesh Community Natural Farming (APCNF) Programme

Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI)

Instrumental in its promotion, WASSAN anchors the national Network Hub of the Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network

Odisha Millets Mission (OMM)

Department of Agriculture and Food Production (Government of Odisha)

Odisha Millets Mission is a flagship programme of Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Government of Odisha. Special Programme for Promotion of Millets in Tribal Areas of Odisha (Odisha Millets Mission) was launched by Govt of Odisha in 2017 to revive millets in farms and on plates.

Inclusion of Millets into ICDS

Government of Telangana, Women and Child Development Department – Telangana, NITI Aayog

The Pilot initiatives are built upon the earlier successful experiences on the Inclusion of Millets in ICDS in the districts of Adilabad and Vikarabad. The project is piloted in three aspirational districts of Telangana supported by NITI Aayog.

Special Project on Integrated Farming in Odisha

(FAO India, Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Government of Odisha)

WASSAN is partners with the Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment, Government of Odisha in the implementation of “Special Programme for promotion of Integrated Farming in Tribal Areas” in districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nuapada and Gajapati.

Jiwi Daah Hasa : High Impact Mega Watershed Project in Jharkhand

(MGNREGA, Government of Jharkhand, BRLF and WHH)

The program attempts to build capacities of Gram Panchayats in planning and implementation of MGNREGA for a comprehensive eco-system revival based on watershed development principles WASSAN is the Lead Technical Agenc of this program.

Strengthening of Backyard Poultry (BYP) for Livelihood and Nutritional Security for Women in Tribal Areas

(TRICOR Project, Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh)

Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of Andhra Pradesh has taken up pilot programme in ITDA areas of 5 districts. WASSAN is the Lead Technical Agency to implement this programme in tribal areas along with local NGOs / CBOs.

Impact Stories

Distress Times of COVID & Relief Action

Most arduous and satisfying effort during the year 2020 to 2021 is the Covid Relief Work. As the lockdown unfolded in Feb – March 2020 – WASSAN team has set up a monitoring unit and extended support to migrant families struck in Hyderabad and various cities of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. 

Odisha team worked was part of the central cell established by the Government of Odisha & helped in coordinating the Odiya migrants struck in Bengaluru and other places to reach home towns. A much deeper engagement was to reach out to the PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) in the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to provide dry ration, helping them to sell their agriculture produce in liaison with the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA). WASSAN has mobilised resources from Philanthropies and Public donations, leveraged our networks with civil society organisations (CSOs) across the states to extend support to migrants on the way to their homes in multiple ways. Subsequent to post-lockdown, a program is taken up to provide incomes to the Covid affected families who stayed back – in terms of ensuring their crops are taken up, agriculture is normal and meeting some expenditure.

Natural & Integrated Farming in Tribal Areas

The high rainfall tribal areas suffer due to dry spells and droughts as much as the dryland areas. These areas we focus are predominantly ‘Rainfed Areas’ i.e. agriculture dependent on rains. 

WASSAN is mandated to primarily focus on these rainfed areas development. WASSAN’s work in the tribal areas is spread across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand states – the central Indian tribal belt, the areas that are in turmoil with the extremist movements. WASSAN has chosen to work in these interior areas partnering with the tribal communities, building their institutions and capacities; all in active collaboration with the Government programs, plugging the last mile outreach gaps.

Tribal Areas of Andhra Pradesh

Tribal areas, once pristine, are fast degrading with degradation of forests, spread of monocrop chemical agriculture, loss of biodiversity, drying up of springs and streams, and other changes. 

This also has a negative impact on their nutrition and health. WASSAN has taken up extension of natural farming in 25 clusters gram panchayats in tribal areas of 4 districts of Andhra Pradesh state and in 3 districts of the Telangana state. These have a focus on strengthening Millets value chains, promoting fisheries and backyard poultry integrated farms with Desi birds. Natural Farming practices integrating ZBNF, SRI and Guli methods were introduced. Introducing cycle weeders, weeding with bullocks and such operations resulted in less labour consumption while yields (of Ragi) increased from about 4 quintals per acre to 8 to 9 quintals; thus, allowing generation of a household surplus. These natural farming practices increased from about 100 to 200 acres in 2018 to over 3500 acres in the current year. A plan was formulated with Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS) [A Government of Andhra Pradesh institution] to scale up the natural farming practices in Ragi crop to 10000 acres in the tribal areas. Introduction of Millet processing by using modified ‘mixies’ developed by WASSAN are catching up in terms of micro-enterprise in the villages that can dehull millets for household consumption at a small service fee. This is encouraging more families to revert back to consuming millets. About 30 such enterprises have been established so far.

Water has been critical issue

Water has been a critical issue in agriculture on the slopes in tribal areas; crops are often subjected to climate risks. 

Two village scale irrigation systems with Solar Energy were established with active contribution of the community; one in Chinarama cluster in Srikakulam and the other at Goppulavalasa in Paderu division of Visakapatnam district. These irrigation systems lifts water from streams and provides irrigation to about 40 acres, providing access to all households in the village. A solar based cold storage unit was established with the Dhimsa FPO of tribal farmers in Paderu division in support of the vegetable growing farmers who are accessing Rythu Bazaar in Visakapatnam.

Tribal Backyard Poultry with Desi Breeds

Tribal Backyard Poultry with Desi breeds has been a major initiative that has been successfully scaled up in the tribal areas. 

Initiated in 2017-18 in a small way, the model has now become a main successful program of the Tribal Welfare Department and ITDAs. Desi Breed Farms are promoted as enterprises in half acre of land with about 50 desi-hen units. Managed under natural forage systems, these provide chicks to about 25 to 50 households in the village who have taken to backyard poultry. The income from the Desi Breed Farms are averaging at about Rs.60000 to Rs.75000 per year; that from the backyards is around Rs.8000 after meeting the household demand per year. About 350 breed farms are established in the region with support from ITDAs and the Tribal Welfare Department and out reached to over 10000 tribal families in the last three years. WASSAN provided critical support in mobilisation, technical design, training and support in establishing service fee based vaccination system managed by a community group. This successful experience in Backyard poultry led WASSAN to take up a collaborative initiative with BRLF to train their partners in 3 states on backyard poultry; an online course was designed for this purpose and executed.

Fisheries in Seasonal Water Bodies

Fisheries in seasonal water bodies has greater potential but unused. A system of fish production in a cluster of ponds was evolved to make use of all the water bodies for fish production. 

A total of 112 water bodies in 67 villages with a water spread area of 128 acres were brought into fish production. Fish harvests, though not of Table size, have good demand locally and consumed by villagers and sold nearby.

Tribal Areas of Telangana

WASSAN worked with the Kollam PVTG tribal groups in Adilabad district of Telangana during the Covid extending support to the interior areas. 

An initiative was taken up along with the District Administration to improve the lands distributed to them under Forest Rights Act. WASSAN brought in a network of four organisations into this collective effort. Continuing with these actions, an initiative was taken up to diversify crop systems to include food grains (millets and pulses) into the present cotton based monocrop systems. Over time shift to monocrop of cotton eroded nutrition of the tribal families. This effort is to restore consumption of millets and pulses at the households. WASSAN supports the FPOs (Farmers’ Producer Organisations) in Khammam District. Natural farming methods are now practiced by 30 farmers in the FPO, and one group has taken to produce cookies and supply to Ashram Hostels with the support of ITDA. WASSAN has been partnering with Watershed Committees in the tribal areas of Asifabad district since long. A program on promoting Climate Resilient agriculture and two new watershed development programs are taken up with support from NABARD.

Tribal Areas of Malkangiri district of Odisha

WASSAN has been working in the strife torn Malkangiri interior tribal areas since 2014. Last three years contributed to a greater expansion of this work with the state government deciding to initiate a special program on integrated farming systems to scale up our successful work in the district. 

The program has an outreach of 20000 households in 40 Gram Panchayats targeting 40,000 acres of farm lands, 20000 livestock and 2500 waterbodies for fish production. AnchalikSevaKendras, farmers’ organisations registered as Farmers Producer Companies are established to provide farm production related services to the farmers. Crop systems improvements, improving varieties, including bund plantation with arhar, crop intensification etc., were taken up. Protective irrigation sub-plans have expanded to include 256 acres and two farmers’ groups were established to demonstrate larger scale protective irrigation. Fisheries were taken up in a total of 310 acres of water-spread area. Vegetable cultivation was expanded to cover 55 acres with 25 women SHGs. 300 night shelters were constructed for backyard poultry and 6 Desi-breed farms established; earning about Rs.15000 to 20000 through sale of birds. 50 goat shelters were also constructed to improve healthcare.

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Geographies

Intensive work of WASSAN is spread in Four states viz., Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand.

Through the Network, we currently engage in 7 states.

WASSAN in Numbers

Districts

150

States

4

Public Investment leveraged

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Total Staff

250

Revenue generated for farmers

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Districts reached

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Organizations working with partners, research organisations, corporates, international organisations, civil societies

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SDG Goals

Major Projects at Scale

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WASSAN (Watershed Support Services and Activities Network)  is a network-based organization focusing on
improving the quality of mainstream programs in
natural resources management and livelihoods since 1999.

Head Office

Plot No. 685 & 685, Street No. 12, Narasimha Swamy Colony,
Nagole, Hyderabad – 500 068
Telangana, India

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