SRIJAN – Creating long-term security in Agri-communities

By auther pic. Shilpa Tiwari

April 15, 2021

SRIJAN – Creating long-term security in Agri-communities


Have you heard of dedicated individuals who have traded their cushy jobs for severe arid field job, amidst aggressive Naxalites and marginalized tribal folks, living the poverty like conditions? Such is our changemaker Mr. Prasanna Khemariya, CEO SRIJAN, who is dedicated to the upliftment of the agricultural communities in order that aridity of a region may disappear, especially those regions that have popular sayings such as – “even though the husband dies, my water carrier should not spill.” Such is the reality of Bundelkhand, even in the modern times of the 21st century.



Already shaken by a hunger incident in West Bengal and having met with poverty face-to-face, when Prasanna finally landed in Bundelkhand via SRIJAN in 2012, after spending some time in government as well as corporate world. In year 2000, SRIJAN started first assignment with designing of Madhya Pradesh government’s World Bank funded District Poverty Initiative Project and later implementing it in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Same program was also taken up in Tonk District of Rajasthan in 2002. Bundelkhand region was a great learning for Prasanna is where he realized the significance of community wisdom. “Community Wisdom is the key… they know better than us…we live in cozy environments but don’t know (reality of survival) …...for them every day is struggle,” says Mr. Prasanna, who found that getting insights for translating difficulties into actionable solutions is a learning from the community members rather the other way round.



Collaborations with Donors works well as far as fundraising is concerned. Donors can be easily approached as against Government collaborations that are essential yet tough to work through. Way back in the 90’s Non-Government Organizations’ collaboration with the Government of India was the only way for the best functioning for the NGOs. Gradual emerging trends and lessening of technicalities, especially in the water-shed organizations, brought in new ways for SRIJAN that largely works with joint action collaborations. As a result, the formation of self-help groups of women and the aggregation of produce, especially milk on the one hand and large infrastructural works on tank rehabilitation, irrigation resource creation and aggregating communities in form of user groups - on the other, are the joint action examples.



The five-circle model that the SRIJAN follows across all the projects has community at the centre. While strengthening the core, they work on water, water conservation methods as well as agricultural best practices suited for the region. Appropriate technologies in difficult terrains with continuous ways of improvements are almost daily training for the villagers. Alongside, SRIJAN importantly raises the standards and opens up avenues for livelihood while enabling loans from SHGs as well as other financial agencies.



Strong believer of Gandhian philosophy, Mr. Prasanna Khemariya was also deeply influenced by stalwarts like Mr. Anupam Mishra, India’s foremost authority on traditional water harvesting systems, who recognized the value of small and sustainable community efforts. “My perception on issues of water changed during a chanced meeting with him in Bhopal where he asked me to read “Aaj Bhi khare hain talab” to understand about the Chandela and Bundela tanks of Bundelkhand,”says Mr Khemariya.



A well-scoped effort of sustainable joint action of SRIJAN stands commendable towards the benefit of the farmers and ‘the invisible farmers’ who do most of the work but remain behind the scenes – the women community. Manbhar Bai from Kodkiya, Madhya Pradesh shares, “we never had a say in the decision-making in our family. But today things have changed as our husbands and villagers keep on enquiring about quality seeds, fertilizers etc. from us and purchase from our Cluster on our recommendation."



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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.

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Shilpa Tiwari is a New Delhi based Content Specialist with three decades of experience. She has worked extensively on a variety of researches and curricula across K12, Higher Education, Corporate and Social Development sectors. A Master’s degree in English Literature and a degree in French from Delhi University, alongwith International Business Programme from IIFT, most certainly provides Shilpa an added expertise to work as a Consultant on various research and consulting projects with Corporates, Educational Institutions, Publications, CSR Foundations and NGOs.


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