Enabling Grassroot Beneficiaries


With the digital gap between rural and urban areas narrowing due to the regular use of mobile apps and internet-based services, now is the opportunity to provide user-friendly geospatial tools to stakeholders driving development at this level.

These stakeholders include elected leaders in the Panchayat Raj system, NGOs, social workers, teachers, students, and others. Geospatial thinking and access to geospatial information should not be confined to government departments alone.

The EarthSight Foundation, Geospatial World, and the National Remote Sensing Centre of ISRO organized a series of programs for grassroots stakeholders at the village level. During these sessions, participants were introduced to the potential of digital maps and expressed their enthusiasm for utilizing them.

They challenged geospatial service providers by requesting solutions for specific actionable purposes, some of which are outlined below:

Developing the Gram Panchayat (Village) Development Plan (GPDP)

The requirement is to utilize the most recent village data to craft an effective GPDP, aligning development strategies with the sustainable development goals, current needs and requirements of the community.

Knowing the Area under Cultivation

This requires using earth observation images from satellites or drones to assess the extent of land under specific crop cultivation in the village, providing insights for informed agricultural planning to deal with market dynamics and demand-supply chains.

Surface and Groundwater Status

This involves examining the current status of surface and groundwater for the ongoing season to determine its sufficiency for irrigating existing crops, projecting the availability of water for the upcoming cultivation season, and ensuring proactive planning for sustainable agricultural practices.

Improving Rivers and Water Sources

To protect the lifeline of the village, analyzing changes in the river over the years and planning actions to transform it into a perennial water source is critical for villages, especially in dry regions.

Greening Strategy and Enhancing Local Biodiversity

This calls for establishing the baseline by conducting an inventory of existing trees and ecosystems in the village and planning activities such as tree planting and ecosystem protection to improve the environment and enhance biodiversity.

Drought Early Warning to Mitigate its Impact

Mitigating drought involves a combination of water conservation, sustainable land management, and implementing policies such as groundwater use to address water scarcity. However, such mitigation measures need an early warning on the likelihood of drought in the region to plan strategic preparedness measures.

Disaster Resilience and Climate Change

To build a resilient community, it is important to know the disaster risks and address these risks through proactive and timely interventions. Geospatial information is needed to develop plans to safeguard villages from floods, droughts, landslides, and other disasters.

Soil Quality

Accessing the data on soil quality in farms would facilitate experimentation with new cropping techniques and enhance agricultural practices.

Integrated Watershed

Development Micro watersheds are basic for managing natural resources and planning sustainable development. Access to micro-watersheds’ geospatial data is critical for designing tailored development projects.

Coping with Human-wildlife Conflict

This intends to serve with the information to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, protecting farmers and their crops while promoting coexistence between communities and wildlife.

Conclusion

Several government organisations have prepared the geospatial portals and demonstrated the potential of geospatial information. These portals have made a great stride in providing geospatial data to the end users and serve specific purposes.

However, most concerns mentioned above ask for dynamic data needed for grassroots development, which is time-sensitive and needs to be granular to cater to the needs at the grassroots level.

Without easy access and availability to such data, the soil, water, vegetation, and other resources vital to the village economy are invariably mismanaged. Hence, the majority of villages in India are facing grave challenges of sustainability.

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