A Winning Team Leading Livelihood Development at Darlaghat

By auther pic. Divya Tiwari

February 19, 2021

A Winning Team Leading Livelihood Development at Darlaghat


Sometimes a pure intention of improving a small aspect of someone’s life results in the complete turnaround of many other aspects. Similarly, a tiny little step in the right direction often leads to unprecedented journeys. Established in 1993, Ambuja Cement Foundation has worked tireless at grassroots levels to develop six programs that impact all aspects of an individual’s life. A journey of 28 years of being invested only in the welfare of marginalized and rural communities has reaped gold is almost every corner of India, impacting millions of individuals and their communities.


Community Members sharing joy by associating with Ambuja Cement Foundation


With a noble mission to improve the lives of scores of forgotten rural communities, Ambuja Cement Foundation championed the art of working in partnerships. Creating a need-based highly effective network of Corporates, NGOs, and Government with the communities, ACF is able to accomplish large projects with limited resources. One such winning partnership ACF has developed with NABARD to bring change in rural communities in Himachal Pradesh and uplift the socio-economic well-being of the families.  


ACF helps increase the socio-economic well-being of families


Conservation of Natural Resources with Advanced Management techniques not only leads to new research methodologies, but also brings a hopeful future to the communities. Darlaghat is one such area where scarcity of potable drinking water led to ACF taking the initiative towards bringing new approaches to free flowing water. With NABARD funding the projects, ACF was able to successfully regenerate/revive the natural resources following watershed development by considering appropriate area and drainage line treatment Furthermore, irrigation channels were also made for irrigation purpose in rural Himachal Pradesh. As a result the communities could revive themselves out of acute water shortage in areas ranging from household requirements to earning a living through agriculture.


Kotlu Village in Darlaghat had acres of land affected due to lack of water and was abandoned as barren due to inability to use it for agriculture. With the construction of check dams and irrigation channels, now water reaches the forlorn of the village. The Watershed treatment resulted in improving the quality of soil and making it cultivable. The farmers could now use the water to grow seasonal crops apart from the staple pulses. They were now able to grow more variety of fodder for their cattle and increase milk production resulting in an increase in income.  The real positive social impact of receiving water all year round is of course intangible. However, the happiness and prosperity can also be stored as data with the number of households who are now able to grow crops all year round. Before this project was initiated by ACF, the villagers only used their land for irrigation for six months in a year. While later they could choose the cash crops of their choice and increase their household incomes several times more.


A happy Farmer rests by the Irrigation Channel built in Darlaghat


When basic amenities in life are accessible without unnecessary strife and hardships, joy trickles down to daily lives as well. The individual energy mobilizes the community towards utilizing their efforts in more constructive efforts and endeavours. With water available into the villages, it was time to empower the communities to be self-sustained. To achieve this ACF worked on a holistic level with six programs involving Water Resource Management, Livelihoods (Agro-Based and Skill Based), Community Health & Sanitation, Women Empowerment, and Education, 


Women Empowerment initiative resulted in the creation of Self Help Groups under which the rural women underwent training in various areas ranging from mushroom cultivation, food processing, hosiery, and dairy development. The resultant financial stability in countless households reflected positive changes in various facets of their lives. The women became more confident of their abilities and chose to educate their children with quality education. They could meet the medical and daily expenses and could borrow money from the SHG or SHG federations in times of urgency like treatments or family weddings. The women saw value in their goal oriented lives and became the driving force of change in their communities. Many women started their own micro enterprises and now part contributing to household income.


A joyful classroom of children eager to learn at school


Creating a network of students, Anganwadi workers, Teachers, and Balmitras, ACF took an important step towards educating the community children. With innovative interventions, supply of books and manuals, and organizing summer camps, the program was able to reach and increase the capacity and talent of the associated pool of resource. The incorporation of scientific learning methodologies resulted in better absorption of knowledge and increased awareness and retention of ideas by students. The role of ACF in providing improved quality of learning and dissemination of knowledge in schools increased the involvement of parents and this positive engagement reached home with older siblings volunteering to teach their young sisters and brothers. The highlight of the program was the marked improvement of students in the fields of Mathematics and Science.


The community that defends itself from illness can take a strong step forward. Recognizing this basic need of health and welfare, ACF helped the village communities of Darlaghat in many ways. The awareness programs with partner organizations resulted in the women to increase their knowledge about hygiene, health, cleanliness, and safety. With a focus on anaemia control, the mothers and teachers were guided on methods to supplement nutrition in their daily lives. The obvious next step was to disseminate the knowledge of how to care for the community elders. Knowledge sessions on heart and blood sugar ailments, precautions, and care empowered women to handle any related emergencies with confidence was now available. The setting up of the Ambuja Diagnostic Centre reduced time the community members took to travel outside to the cities to get basic tests done. Now with the availability of facilities close at hand, the unwell members of the community could get access to treatment faster, mitigating the lag and therefore, resulting in a healthier community.


Building capacity translates to empowered women through Self Help Groups


The next generation of any community has dreams of doing things differently and therefore, bringing joy from unknown corners of knowledge and skills. ACF understands this vision and helps students and youth with skill development and entrepreneurship avenues. With strengthened capacities, individuals stand a better chance at obtaining high paying jobs. This is a significant value-add to the income of the household. A clear focus on training girls with employable skills helped the communities appreciate their daughters with confidence in their abilities of achievements. 


It is indeed a gratifying partnership between ACF and NABARD, among other stakeholders that resulted in the overall development of a small hamlet of a distant population. While this is just one tiny spec in the contribution of ACF in building India at the grassroots, it is indeed a huge achievement for the impacted community.


A few major impacts

- Rural women through dairy farming are earning almost Rs. 12,000 per month

- Area under green cover has increased by 241 ha of land and under irrigation has increased by 125 ha of land

- 2200 farmers are working in different agriculture practices in Darlaghat and crop intensity has increased to 15%

- 4094 ha of land is treated under watershed projects and 1554 ha of area is treated under climate of water shed

- 87 community based institutions formed and 7 apex committees for implementation of projects formed



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Impact-Story is a series on development and CSR interventions leading to some impacts on the ground. If you have a project, innovation or intervention that has changed the lives of a few people or a community, please share a brief note at shilpi@csrbox.org. Our Team will get back to you after validating the information for a detailed coverage.

Also Read: Manjari Foundation: Sowing Seeds of Strength to Empower Rural Women


Divya Tiwari is a seasoned content writer with over 20 years of work experience. She holds an MBA degree from IIM Indore along with Triple Masters Degrees in Development Studies, Media Business Management, and Philosophy. She has worked in various capacities with National and International NGOs, Top Corporates, and several Ministries for projects that range from Training, Capacity Building, E-Learning, to Media and Communications. She has written and hosted English programs for All India Radio, Delhi. Her deep interest in Animal Welfare helps her engage with various Animal Welfare Organizations across the country in various capacities. She is an advocate of a cruelty-free sustainable lifestyle and regularly blogs on related issues and solutions. Apart from her writing engagements, she is also a social entrepreneur helping rural communities take their craft to centrestage. She is based out of Delhi


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