Rajarhat PRASARI (PRASARI) was set up in 2007 in West Bengal to help provide the poor, especially women, with access to secure and sustainable livelihoods. It works with, and for, the community to enhance livelihood that centres on Natural Resource Management. The organisation facilitates optimal use of resources and services for community benefit. It works in partnership with other organisations in the development sector to make the best use of government policies and schemes.
PRASARI works in two opposite agro-climatic zones of West Bengal. One district is located at the hilly Jalpaiguri (Himalayan Dooars) and the other is at the delta in the Sundarbans (near Bay of Bengal). Both receive adequate rainfall but still suffer from water scarcity, either due to impermeable land or intrusion of salinity. To help the residents, PRASARI emphasizes gravity based surface flow management and water harvesting.
In the past, PRASARI started out with System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as an entry point activity in all the villages it worked with. It would then shortlist the families which needed help in improving their livelihood. Self Help Groups (SHGs) were the primary community platform used for any sort of intervention. The groups were nurtured by the trained staff of PRASARI with a plan to achieve a targeted annual incremental income.
The NGO has shifted from a sub-sector approach of promoting SRI to family based interventions incorporating all other existing natural resources (agriculture, livestock and birds, and fishery). This has had three categorical effects on the families: 1) Year-long engagement with the families versus seasonal interventions; 2) Diversifying income sources and minimising the risks of single activity failure; 3) Generating ‘double arrows’ of increasing income and reducing expenditures.
Interventions in livelihoods in the past six years have exhibited some limitations and the learning thereof has led to interventions in addressing nutrition security, providing health awareness, and minimum bare-foot health support. PRASARI has also successfully launched a pilot program at the Sundarbans on ‘securing nutrition for children from home based resources’ through calculated resource use for growing nutrients. An assessment on the prevalent diseases with mothers has been done and based on this assessment, a support plan has been designed for execution.