UNDP India Blogs

      • When There is Too Much Water | Russell Rollason

        31 May 2013

        Photo: UNDP India

        For the poor farmers living in the flood plains of the Mahanadi River delta in the eastern India state of Odisha, the main rice crop is grown in the dry season because extensive flooding and water logging in the monsoon season prevents sowing the rice at the same time as most of India’s farmers. In this region, climate variability is changing the rainfall patterns and the farmers have to adapt. There is a local saying in Odisha that to get a good crop, you need ‘8 days of summer rains, 16 days of good rain, 32 days of drizzle and 64 days with a light sprinkle.’  These days the framers are getting most of their 1500 mm of annual rain in just 15 days. As a result flooding is more widespread and water logging of fields is lasting longer. In response to the water logging, three villages in Satyabadi Block, about 30 minutes drive from the beach town of Puri, joined hands to hire a local contractor to clean out Kharbar Nala (canal) and reconnect the canal to the river.  This was done to speed up the drainage of water from the rice fields and as a result this year 2100 acres  Read More

      • Let There be Sun Shine in Their Lives With Solar Lanterns!! | Chitra Narayanswamy

        17 Oct 2012

        Hirappa has a green job! He helps in charging & renting out the lanterns. [PHOTO: UNDP INDIA]

        Maheswari and Chandrakala come towards us with beaming smiles. They belong to one of the 250 households housed in the Thubrahalli slum by Kundanahalli gate at Bangalore. The houses are shanties made of mud, bamboo and covered with plastic tarpaulin. Some of the households though are lit with modern energy, LED based solar lanterns. GMRVF, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) wing of the GMR infrastructure company runs a school in the slum premises housed in 2 permanent structures, while their third housing with sloping roofs operates as an Integrated Energy Center (IEC). The IEC is the first step taken by Selco Foundation to show the slum dwellers an alternate to kerosene for lighting. Solar panels (total capacity of 75 Watts) help to charge 60 such solar lanterns. The slum dwellers rent a lantern every evening for Rs 5/day, handing it to the center operator Hirappa in the mornings for charging. It is also a first step to show the residents their need for better lighting options - easing the burden on kerosene purchases, and eliminating the toxic fumes inhaled as it burns to light the gas lamps. Does the need arise in the shanty next door since it gives them a  Read More

      • Fast Facts on India’s Biodiversity Part 2 - Ecosystems and Habitats | Pramod Krishnan

        17 Sep 2012


        India has a wide range of ecosystems and habitats that includes forests, wetlands, grasslands, coasts, marshes and deserts. Almost all the major ecosystem types in the world can be found in India. I have been fortunate to have visited and soaked in the beauty of all these habitats. Forests - India is among the top 10 forested countries in the world. The actual forest cover (as determined through remote sensing during 2008-2009) is about 69.2 million hectares or 21.1 percent of the geographical area (see Figure 3 and Table 1). In addition, estimates suggest the tree cover (patches of trees that are less than one hectare in area and thus not assessed through remote sensing) to be a little over 9 million hectares. Thus, total forest and tree cover in the country is over 78 million hectares, or 23.8 percent of the country’s geographical area (FSI 2011). India’s forests are home to a number of charismatic mammals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), the Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica), the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee), Indian Bison (Bos gaurus) and the Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus). In addition, a number of deer  Read More

      • Fast Facts on India’s Biodiversity Part 1 – Biogeographic Zones | Pramod Krishnan

        12 Sep 2012


        Three unparalleled factors give India its biological opulence. First, there is an astounding spectrum of habitats and ecosystems existing over a wide range of latitudes and longitudes. These, together with varied climatic regimes, have resulted in an impressive range of bio-physical environments. Second, India lies at the confluence of three global centres of origin of life or ‘Biogeographic Realms’, viz. Indo-Malayan, Eurasian and Afro-tropical. India’s flora and fauna have been enriched by elements from each of these realms. Third, India has a legacy of co-existence of humans and nature and a longstanding tradition of conservation. In this blog, I will introduce the 10 biogeographic zones that India has been divided into: Trans-Himalaya: Constituting 5.6 percent of the country’s geographical area, this zone includes high altitude cold and arid mountain areas, including cold deserts. An extension of the Tibetan Plateau, this zone has sparse alpine steppe vegetation with many endemic species. It supports some of the biggest populations of wild sheep and goats in the world as well as some rare species of fauna such as Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia). Himalaya: Consisting of the entire Himalayan mountain range, this zone covers 6.4 percent of the total geographical area and has alpine and  Read More

      • Creating Agricultural Entrepreneurs in Jharkhand- Lessons from a UNDP Biodiversity Project | Ruchi Pant

        28 Aug 2012

        [Photo: UNDP India]

        I was very encouraged that Times of India covered one of our small projects in Jharkhand. This project helped 30 young people in the district become agricultural entrepreneurs – cultivating and selling lac to nearby markets. For years lac cultivation had been a valuable source of income for poor, tribal families in extremist-affected Khunti district in Jharkhand. However, a shortage of brood lac or mother insects required to cultivate lac has made it more difficult to grow lac in the last few years. But a recent partnership between the Institute of Forest Productivity and UNDP has given a new lease to lac cultivation in the area. It’s a success which has included many more villagers along with it. Hundreds of villagers have been employed in a range of activities relating to growing lac. In 2011, record production in Murhu bloc resulted in an annual income of INR 70,000 for each family. According to Dera Munda, a middle-aged farmer who grew lac on 25 trees, “I have grown around 1.25 quintals of lac which has fetched me INR 80,000.” In an area plagued with drought and limited irrigation facilities which has made it difficult for families to cultivate yearly paddy crop, “income  Read More

      • Biodiversity – A Time to Act | Srinivasan Iyer

        13 Aug 2012

        Photo: UNDP India

        Rice, pigeon pea, mango, turmeric, ginger, pepper, banana, bitter gourd, okra, coconut, cardamom, jackfruit, sugarcane, bamboo, taro, indigo, sunhemp, amaranths, goose berries. India is considered to be the place of the origin of several varieties of these plant species. India is one of the 17 mega biodiversity countries of the world. With only 2.5% of the land area, India accounts for 7.8% of the recorded species of the world. The country has contributed to and is party to key multilateral agreements on environmental issues, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Pursuant to the CBD, following a widespread consultative process, and programs related to biodiversity, Biological Diversity Act, 2002 has been enacted. India is one of the few countries to have enacted such a legislation. This Act primarily aims at giving effect for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and facilitate access to biological resources and associated traditional knowledge so as to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of their commercialization. UNDP contributed to the formulation of the BD Act. Last week, along with the Madhya Pradesh State Minister of Forests, I was at a national consultation which was exploring the challenges of implementing this landmark legislation. In  Read More

      • India- Women in Leadership Programme | Sumeeta Banerji

        08 Aug 2012

        Inaugural Speech by Rajasthan governor Margaret Alva. [PHOTO: IIM-Bangalore]

        I was recently invited to speak at the inaugural session of the India- Women in Leadership Programme being held at IIM-Bangalore. This powerful course, jointly designed by IIM-B and CSR, has an equally apt abbreviation - the i-WiL programme. That captures the motivation of the course designers, the intent of its partners and the potential transformation that the students of the course have signed up for. As a woman myself, I have often pondered over the obvious paradox in India – between the empowered women who have occupied numerous seats of power in the country and how this has failed to impact the status of women more generally in the country. Over the centuries, indian women have made a mark for themselves – as administrators, politicians, artists, writers and poets, philosophers, activists. However, disempowerment and its many facets and consequences continue to affect a majority of women even today. The 10-week, first ever certificate course in political leadership, India-Women in Leadership Programme of the Centre for Public Policy, IIM-Bangalore and Centre for Social Research, New Delhi, was inaugurated by Rajasthan governor Margaret Alva. Women constitute 19 percent of the members of parliaments around the world; an increase from 11.3 percent in  Read More

      • Findings from Delhi Cash Transfers Pilot Study | Shefali Misra

        16 Jul 2012

        Photo: Tom Pietrasik/ UNDP India

        The Food and Civil Supply Minister called a meeting in his chamber to review the Cash in lieu of PDS study undertaken by Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) under the UNDP supported Innovative Support to Social protection project. Alexandra Solovieva, Deputy Country Director (Programmes), UNDP India and I attended this review meeting. SEWA, UNDP's institutional partner which undertook the PDS study in Raghubir Nagar sought a meeting with the Minister Food and Civil Supplies, Government of Delhi and presented the end line research findings of the UNDP supported pilot. UNDP and Mission Convergence were invited. The study findings point to the conclusion that women who received cash made better food choices (such as buying more protein rich food such as eggs and meat). The cash also enhanced their ability to access private health care and did not result in the money being used for wasteful expenditure (such as on alcohol). The Food and Civil Supply Minister Mr. Haroon Yusuf and the Food Commissioner Mr. Dharampal remarked that the study was significantly positive in its outcomes and was indicative that people utilize cash very effectively. They thanked SEWA and UNDP for the successful research. This PDS study has enhanced relevance in the light  Read More

      • UNDP’s Support to Rajasthan Mission on Skill and Livelihoods | Alexandra Solovieva

        02 Jul 2012

        UNDP’s Support to Rajasthan Mission on Skill and Livelihoods | Alexandra Solovieva
        Photo: UNDP India

        UNDP’s support to the RMOL project (Rajasthan Mission on Skill and Livelihoods) since 2004, recently culminated in a terminal evaluation that found it highly satisfactory in all dimensions. On 28 June, 2012, I attended the state level dissemination workshop at which the findings of the evaluation were discussed. In the workshop in Jaipur, attended by the State Minister, Primary and Secondary Education Mangi Lal Garasia; former Chief Secretary who has looked after RMOL from its establishment; Principal Secretary, Labour and Employment; Managing Director of RSLDC (to succeed RMOL); Senior Vice President of BASICS, other officials, evaluation findings were shared and way forward discussed, including good experiences on skills and livelihoods. RMOL has demonstrated good results with strong government’s ownership, institutionalizing RMOL as RSLDC (Rajasthan Skill and Livelihood Development Corporation), and allocating significant government’s resources to this work, to the tune of Rs. 140 crore in the 12th Five-Year Plan. The mission mode created in Rajasthan was replicated nationally through NRLM. Good practices and models were created on skill development that can be replicated, e.g. our planned work in Assam, as well as with IKEA in Rajasthan itself and in other states. The evaluation in fact recommended that UNDP can support similar  Read More

      • Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme Training on Human Development | K Seeta Prabhu

        01 May 2012

         Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme Training on Human Development | K Seeta Prabhu
        Photo: Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme

        I was recently invited to address and interact with the first batch of 109 recipients of the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF). Given UNDP’s work on Human Development, we were invited to provide training on the human development approach. The Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) was announced on the 13th of September, 2011 by the Union Minister of Rural Development Mr. Jairam Ramesh. The objective of the fellowships is to engage the talents of young professionals in facilitating change in the most backward districts in India. The fellows will be placed in 78 backward districts, covering 9 states identified as Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts that have a high concentration of tribal and marginalized populations where the fellows will function as development facilitators and assist the Collector by actively pursuing a district programming approach. It is envisioned that the fellows will strengthen the district resource base for programming, explore alternative ways of delivering services to reach the most deprived communities and facilitate district-wide social mobilization processes particularly among the youth. The first batch of fellowships were awarded to 156 young professionals, who were selected following a rigorous selection process. The fellows come from different educational backgrounds like engineering, medicine  Read More

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