Ambuja Cement Foundation has joined hands with HDFC Bank Parivartan for the second consecutive year to continue works under the Holistic Rural Development Program (HRDP) in Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh. The project aims to uplift the socio-economic condition of over 13000 people from 10 villages of Surguja district, via a variety of initiatives in water harvesting and efficiency, livestock management, women empowerment and infrastructure.
Livelihoods in this district are dependent on rainfed agriculture, but unpredictable and erratic rainfall severely impacts the profitability of farming here. Additionally, groundwater depletion has resulted in communities inadequate water harvesting structures which have led to diminished incomes, barren lands, poor quality water and an increase in migration. ACF, in collaboration with HDFC Bank Parivartan, has strategically designed a holistic program to address these issues and fulfil the needs of the community.
To tackle the region’s depleting ground water levels, the program renovated and constructed water harvesting structures last year, to recharge groundwater for agriculture and drinking water use. This year the program aims to construct soak pits, drinking water pipelines, and soil and water conservation works.
The program will also support the installation of drip irrigation and encourage the adoption of lift irrigation for crop diversification, increased income and planning for cash crops in the future. Apart from water efficiency, the program will also promote crop demonstrations, kitchen gardening units, and vegetable farming practices that are financially beneficial for the farmers.
Under the women empowerment program, ACF will form 4 Self-Help Groups for livelihood generation activities and saving credit practices, also providing a platform for women to deal with village level issues. The program will also promote poultry farming by offering skill training, and financial support in constructing poultry sheds.
The area is home to many landless and marginal farmers who are largely dependent on agriculture. The introduction of goatery and livestock management will play an important role in improving the profitability of farmers via the provision of training and awareness, vet care services and support for establishing goat sheds.
Due to poor sanitation and infrastructure facilities, especially in education institutions and anganwadis, the program will also meet the basic infrastructure needs of schools – also building rainwater harvesting systems to provide an all year round, reliable water source.
Speaking on the project extension, Pearl Tiwari, Director & CEO, Ambuja Cement Foundation said, “During the project’s first year, we addressed several key issues such as increasing women’s participation in village level decisions, reducing the skill gap amongst youth and tending to the depleting ground water level. There is much more work to be done and so we are happy to extend our partnership with HDFC Bank Parivartan, to continue extending positive impacts to more and more rural households.”
Elaborating on the need for such a comprehensive project, Nusrat Pathan, Head CSR, HDFC Bank Ltd said: “Each of the individual projects as part of the HRDP program addresses challenges critical for the people’s socio-economic development. We are positive that the association with ACF will bring about significant change in the community and improve their standard of living.”