Sunday, August 8, 2010

Green ... tree planting in India

Dear Colleagues

I saw this and liked it!
40000 plantlets planted in four hours in a project village of Sadguru Foundation under the theme lets make the earth green Posted by Dr. Swati Samvatsar on August 6, 2010

A green movement in the village Chosala District Dahod Gujarat. A massive plantation program was undertaken with the active participation of school children and all villagers. The plants were sponsered by Social Foerstry department district Dahod while transporation and other activities was supported by N.M.Sadguru Water and Develpoment Foundation Dahod whose target is to plant 50 milion tree species in next five years. Otherwise also Sadguru Foundation has planted 55 million tree species in its project area.
I like this initiative a lot ... but I fear that it is unlikely to be a model for replication elsewhere. I wrote the following comment"

Dear Colleagues

This sounds good ... in fact very good. But it is nowhere near as good as it could be ... and should be. The basic socio-economic model being implemented is one that combines business philanthropy, welfare and child exploitation to achieve something that has (hopefully) a great social value. If business was run on these lines there would be instant failure ... and this model for socio-economic progress probably cannot replicate.

Someone has to figure out how the children are "rewarded" if not remunerated. Someone has to figure out who are the beneficiaries of the program ... and there needs to be some financing vehicle so that those that benefit are in fact those that eventually pay. If the benefit is big and the costs are small, then there is value adding and society has an initiative that is sustainable. This requires some thought ... but it is not really very complicated.
Peter Burgess
I have worked on big project proposals about reforestation that have been promoted by the World Bank and the UN ... some of which disbursed well, but none really had anything like the impact that was needed. I do not particularly like the mega-project model for development because it lacks local "buy-in" ... but I also think there needs to be a better model than the periodic great story that pops up from time to time.

In other words I would like to see community focus development where there is some attention to reforestation as part of a complete set of initiatives that aim to improve the state of the community. People being poor is one thing ... but people not able to do anything about it is another. People improving their community is worthwhile ... but people should not have to starve for lack of some little money because they are doing things that are valuable. In other words, there has to be a financing vehicle that understands the economic dynamics of reforestation!

Maybe this should be a "product" that is offered within the microfinance sector ... maybe!

Peter Burgess

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