The World Bank on Monday signed a $48 million loan agreement for revitalising natural resources in Meghalaya through a community-led landscape approach.
The project is expected to benefit 1,00,000 people in rural Meghalaya besides building the capacity of some 30,000 youth through access to technology.
The Meghalaya Community-led Landscapes Management Project is designed to support the State’s three tribal communities – Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia – in managing its forests and natural resources through customary laws.
Meghalaya’s woods are designated as ‘unclassified forests’ in the State records and for the most part do not receive technical or financial support from State institutions. Besides, there are no institutions or legal frameworks for water management in the State.
Water bodies, rivers, and springs are considered common property like forests and are managed by traditional tribal institutions. But some of them are being polluted due to unscientific coal and limestone mining.
“The project will help manage these depleting resources by strengthening communities and traditional institutions. Restoration of degraded and highly degraded landscapes under the project will increase water for local communities and improve soil productivity,” said Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance’s Department of Economic Affairs.
The project will prioritise around 400 villages located in ‘very critical’ and ‘critical’ landscapes over a period of five years. Landscape planning and investments will be preceded by extensive training for communities and project management staff at the field level.
“Various interventions in soil and water management will improve the availability and reliability of water sources for drinking, empower communities to make the best use of their natural resources and accelerate economic growth and well-being of every community in Meghalaya,” said Hisham Abdo, World Bank’s acting country director in India.
This article was first published in The Hindu