LWR began working in India in the 1950s by sending relief supplies to address the needs of those affected by famine and disease. LWR’s work has evolved significantly over time to focus on long-term development needs. LWR’s approach in India focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty for the most marginalized populations, including tribals, Dalits and women, through agriculture, climate change and emergency operations programs. LWR works in partnership with Indian civil society groups in Bihar state.
LWR’s agriculture and food security programs employ an agricultural value chain approach, increasing access to inputs and markets, leveraging community assets and building smallholder farmers’ technical capacity to generate higher value-added for agricultural products and create win-win relationships among actors at all stages of the value chain. In India, LWR fosters the establishment of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in rural communities to bring farmers together to increase crop productivity, quality and post-harvest processing and storage. LWR promotes climate-smart agriculture practices and provides field trainings, tools and technology to increase knowledge, skills and yields from crops, such as rice, wheat and vegetables. Farmer-to-farmer exchange visits and community demonstration plots are fora for sharing learnings and techniques among peer groups. SHGs facilitate farmer access to credit, provide entrée to more lucrative markets and support farmers to gain better prices than selling individually would. Furthermore, SHGs can be used as a learning platform, training on and supporting the application of new techniques and crop choices. LWR strengthens SHG capacity by supporting business planning, building leadership and management skills and providing skills on organizational governance and networking to ensure SHG sustainability.
LWR has experienced impressive food security gains through the application of Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) techniques, which require less water and are less labor intensive than traditional approaches. SRI has doubled crop yields, increased food security by 6 to 7 months on average and led to year-round rice availability in target communities. A similar technique applied to wheat production has resulted in 3 additional months of household food supply per family per year. LWR also works with communities to establish Water Users’ Groups, which develop norms for water distribution and manage irrigation and water infrastructure to sustainably increase cropping intensity.
LWR seeks to empower women’s decision-making at the community and household levels to help women flourish in business, the community and the family. In one program in Bihar, project participants have increased their incomes by up to 40%, allowing them to send children to school, afford basic and much-needed health care services, and meet their families’ basic needs. Access to credit through banks and revolving SHG loans and training on non-farm trades supports the creation of micro-enterprises for homestead vegetable cultivation, animal husbandry and even collective agriculture on leased land.
Disaster Risk Reduction
Rural communities in India are vulnerable to frequent natural hazards, including flash floods, landslides and earthquakes. At the same time, poverty affords communities few resources to prepare for or mitigate the effects of these hazards and even fewer resources to recover. LWR and its local partners implement programs focused on mitigation of the effects of climate change. To reduce the risk and impact of frequent natural hazards in India, LWR partners with civil society actors that foster community preparedness through outreach and awareness material and activities, trainings, and community-developed disaster risk management plans. LWR supports the formation of village-level Disaster Management Committees, which lead community efforts focused on disaster risk reduction planning. Participant communities with evacuation plans and early warning systems are less vulnerable to natural disasters and prepared to respond to disasters in a coordinated and organized manner.
India is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including floods, tsunami, cyclones and earthquakes. At the time of an emergency, LWR assesses community needs, as well as our partner organizations’ capacity to address those needs, and responds accordingly. Emergency operations programs can include cash transfers, provision of non-food items, shelter repair or construction, water, sanitation & hygiene projects and/or trauma counseling for affected families. LWR and its partners implemented emergency projects in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, as well as the 2008 Bihar floods.
LWR believes strongly that those affected by disasters have a right to life with dignity, the right to receive humanitarian assistance and the right to protection and security, in line with the Humanitarian Charter. LWR is committed to international standards of quality and accountability in emergency operations and has trained local partner organizations on the Sphere Project and the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, in alignment with LWR’s principles and commitment to developing resilient communities.