Shashwat is a grassroots initiative that was developed in response to the displacement of Koli Mahadeo, Thakars, and Katkaris tribal peoples by construction of the Dimbhe dam, which submerged eleven villages and destroyed cropland in another thirteen. The organization helps local communities to develop small-scale fishing activities in the dam reservoir, and improve agricultural production on the remaining cultivatable land, much of which is on steep slopes. The dam reservoir has been stocked with fish and the local population is supported to obtain fishing leases, boats, and nets. The community carries out a ‘cage and pen’ technique of collective management and has set net size regulations, strictly observed closed season, and banned dynamite fishing to ensure fish stocks are replenished. Fish size and abundance have increased, as have local incomes.
Tribal farmers have been supported to cultivate small paddy terraces on steep slopes in the local catchment area. Through lobbying and partnership with the local government, the organization has provided 165 farmers with light-weight pumps and pipelines for crop irrigation. Grain harvests have improved substantially, improving food security for an economically marginalized population. The organization also supports local farmers with land tenure securitization (official ownership documents). Revenues from Shashwat activities have been reinvested into eight primary schools and a health clinic that primarily serves women and children.
Click here to read about Shashwat's national awards ceremony.