There is an urgent need to create mechanisms to empower widows in Yavatmal and Vidarbha, and give them the support they need to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. However, such initiatives are rare. One of the few such projects for the welfare of the helpless women is run by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and its sister organization Sampada Trust.
It gives us immense pleasure to announce that WOTR has won ‘the 2017 Land for Life Award’ by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). WOTR has been awarded this award for its work to transform the lives of communities suffering from the impacts of land degradation. The Land for Life Award recognizes excellence and innovation of individuals or organizations who have made outstanding contributions towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 15 "Life on Land", in particular Target 15.3 "Land Degradation Neutrality".
WOTR’s Executive Director Dr. Marcella D'Souza had the following to say, in the context of the award, "Combating desertification can be achieved! Team WOTR is thrilled that we have been able to prove it conclusively. Thank you UNCCD for recognizing the years of silent, committed efforts of my team and villagers, through this prestigious award. We thank our enablers and funders – the Indian Government, the German Government (through KfW and GIZ), the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and our many donors who have helped us realize this.”
Managing Trustee, Crispino Lobo said the award was a reflection of WOTR’s unique approach. “Our unique approach lies in our ability to adopt holistic, scientific and participatory approaches to address rural poverty and water scarcity. Our focus has been on managing water demand, not just increasing water supply. We believe in creating practices that are sustainable and replicable on a large scale and that our work has global relevance, particularly in Africa and parts of Asia.”
WOTR has trained over 380,000 people from India and various countries across the world in natural resources management and watershed development. It has restored 8,913 sq. km of degraded land; indirectly benefitting 1.38 million people. Its sustainable land management approach, water budgeting and micro irrigation has benefited at least 355,832 people.
WOTR has primarily been a pioneer in watershed development, across 7 states of the country. A key focus has been on empowering women and building a women-centric approach, which has been built into everything we do. This has directly and indirectly benefitted 1.3 million people, bigger than the population of many countries. Our unique approach lies in our ability to adopt holistic, scientific and participatory approaches to address rural poverty and water scarcity. Our focus has been on managing water demand, not just increasing water supply. Combating land degradation is the only way, along with watershed development, to tackle the problems thrown up by climate change in agriculture.