Abstract— Data-aware Community (DAC) is a community that uses data-driven approach, collecting local data; employ information technology and software analytics tools to understand the socioeconomic condition of their community. A DAC can evaluate effectiveness of development projects from the target community’s point of view and serve as a vital resource for getting feedback. This paper presents the role of DAC in tracking the impact of the Hatiasuli-Bankber watershed development project sponsored by the Watershed Development Fund (WDF), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Government of India.
Keywords—data-aware community; watershed development; family survey; impact of development action; grassroots development
Various public projects in rural development aim to raise the socioeconomic standard of communities at the grassroots. A data-aware community (DAC) is a community at the grassroots that conducts village surveys and analyzes the data to assess the benefits achieved in their community. This approach promotes participatory development by community involvement and can provide insight in the return on investment.
The idea of the DAC grew out of a study made four decades ago under the auspices of Seva-Bharati (see section II), on the socioeconomic condition and future possibilities of development of a very backward rural society in West Bengal, India. More recently, information technology and the availability of applied data science software have made the idea of DAC feasible. Seva-Bharati has implemented DAC in the surrounding village community for general socioeconomic analysis of a14 village community [1, 2]. This paper addresses the role a DAC can have in analysing impact of a particular watershed project on the target village communities. The goal is to find out how the methods of data collection, analysis and visualization of a generic DAC be used for specific project impact.
A key characteristic of DAC is that the local people carry out all the steps involved. They usually come from local village clubs, schools, colleges and interested individuals. They work with external resources to set up desktops/laptops and applications as necessary. It is advantageous if the local people have a general acquaintance with information technology. In many cases this is the case but today it is easy to provide necessary training for this purpose. In a broad sense the activities bring out the active role of information technology in the rural context. Details of implementation of DAC at Kapgari, the village where Seva-Bharati is located is given in .
DAC helps in promoting community integration through the obvious discussions on common problems such as water shortage, healthcare, benefits of multi-cropping or upland farming. The socioeconomic data and their visualization promotes the value of cooperative action for community level planning and action.
Multiple DACs can be formed and can integrate into regional, national or international level to provide valuable feedback data on development activiteis. Some initial ideas have been presented in .
The paper presents the role of DAC in assessing the impact of the watershed development project on the thirteen village community. The project is sponsored and funded by the Watershed Development Fund (WDF), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Government of India . In section II, we introduce Seva- Bharati which has been working as the Project Implementing Agency (PIA) . In section III, we present the methodology used in family survey for analysing the impact of the development project. In section VI we discuss the findings of the impact analysis. In section V we present a discussion.
II. SEV A-BHARA TI
Seva-Bharati, an Institute for Integrated Area Development and Social Change, has been founded in 1948 by late P.K.Sen, a renowned agricultural scientist, thinker, reformer and educationist. Seva-Bharati is located in the village of Kapgari, West Bengal, India. The area is one of the most poor and backward in the country.
Sen used the phrase “land and man” as the relationship between available resource and human creativity to use it for the good of the community [5,6]. The region poses a severe challenge to land and man relationship. The land is undulated and rainfall is less than 1113 mm/year. The economy is primarily based on agriculture and the extreme production constraints together with broken social conditions pose enormous challenges for development.
horticulture, livestock, fisheries, agricultural engineering, extension, and plant protection are organized to address these issues. Additionally, exhibition, diagnostic service, scientist visits, farmers’ visit, farm science clubs and women centers, radio/TV talks are used.
Examples of training programs in agronomy include areas such as management of problematic soil, production management, seed production, crop diversification, nutrient management and disease management. Similar trainings are given in horticulture, fisheries, livestock production and agricultural engineering. The SBKVK also maintains and manages several units in agronomy, horticulture, livestock, fishery etc. as well as runs various service centers. The Krishi Kendra has extensive background in farmer training and has been regularly performing similar tasks for the last forty years and has extensive reach. A village fair attended by over 5,000 farmers takes place each year. More details can be found at the web site .
C. Watershed Development Project
Watershed development refers to the conservation, regeneration, and the judicious use of human and natural (land, water, plants, animals) resources within a particular watershed [ 3, 4]. It brings about the best possible balance in the environment between natural resources and man and grazing animals on the other.
The components of watershed development are, community development/human resource development, conservation – soil, land and water management, afforestation, pasture/fodder development, agricultural development, livestock management and rural energy management. These components are interlinked and related. For example, livestock management depends on pasture/fodder, which in turn depends on afforestation and soil, land and water conservation.
As PIA, Seva-Bharati has completed the Hatiasuli- Bankber watershed project early 2016 and has started to work on a second project in a second watershed project. The project team comprises of subject matter experts (SME) from the SBKVK. Technical planning for soil and water conservation is created by SBKVK SMEs. This includes data collection, technical survey and format for compilation of data in a systematic manner.
A watershed is chosen based on a number of criteria. The size must be over 500 ha (Hectare), the location should be upper ridge of river system, its irrigated area less than 33% of total cultivable land, has less than 33% forest land, should not include high water demanding crops, villages poor backward class and tribal, villagers commit to ban on clear felling of trees and free grazing and volunteer to free labor service for four days. Villages will also create a watershed maintenance fund. They should constitute Village Watershed Committee (VWC) as a registered body and have 30% landless women and widows in it.
The project consists of an initial pre-proposal phase, which is followed by the capacity building phase (CBP),
Seva-Bharati has been working in education and rural development in the area for more than six decades and has extensive community reach. It has established public schools from the kindergarten to the higher secondary level, along with a degree college in its campus. There is boarding facilities for male and female students. Also, school for vocation education and village craft has been established by Seva-Bharati.
The governing body of Seva-Bharati has representatives from all the villages in the community. The Executive Council of Seva-Bharati has members from these villages. The students in the schools and the college are mostly from the village community. They participate in student projects that impact the development of the community.
The different activities of Seva-Bharati, many of which are conducted by Seva-Bharati Krishi Vigyan Kendra (SBKVK) or Farm Science Center, and some via several government sponsored projects and involves interactions with the village communities in the area on a regular basis. Please see [6, 7] for more information.
Today, Seva-Bharati has a number of collaborative programs with different government organizations. These include different activities under the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), promotion of jute felt for production and income generation under the National Institute of Research of June and Allied Fiber Technology (NIRJAFT) project http://www.nirjaft.res.in/, wasteland management through orchard development under the Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Grantee Act (MGNREGA) http://www.mgnrega.co.in/, front line demonstration of sesame and Niger oilseed development under the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) http://www.icar.org.in/en/node/612 .
The Seva-Bharati Krishi Vigyan Kendra (SBKVK), sponsored by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was established in 1976. The overall goal of SBKVK has been to demonstrate the application of science and technology and education and training for the farmers in the area with its team of subject matter specialists in agronomy, horticulture, agricultural extension, fishery and social science. It carries out on-farm testing of adoptability of new and advance agricultural production activities, organize frontline demonstration of the potential of such technologies, training farmers to update knowledge and skills, training extension personnel to orient them in the frontier areas and to work as resource and knowledge center for supporting initiative of public, private and voluntary sector for improving agricultural economy.
Some of the problems are low productivity of major cereals, oil seed, pulses, vegetables, fruits, livestock, fish production that hinders net income. Field days in agronomy,
which is in turn followed by the full implementation phase (FIP). In the CBP 10% of the delineated area under the project is treated with area treatment, livelihood activities etc. This provides the opportunity for the PIA to build the capacity to know, learn and work in group for real cause of the watershed development work and allow a creative participation of the watershed development team (WDT), VWC and people in the community.
At FIP stage, based on the feasibility study of the previous phase, several activities are initiated. The VWC will form a central committee (CWC) representative of the entire watershed affected village community.
The Hatiasuli-Bankber watershed project started in 2012. The land area treatment techniques include field bunding (FB), developing new pond (NP), renovation of pond (RP), agro-horticulture (AH), agro-forestry (AF) and fodder development works. Total measures of these works are for FB 19.98 ha (6 villages), NP (10 villages – 53813 cu. m.), RP (4 villages – 39000 cu. m.), AH (2 villages – 1 ha), AF (3 villages – 4 ha) and fodder (7 villages – 13 ha). The livelihood support includes poultry 29 units (beneficiaries), duck rearing for 12 units, piggery for 8 units, 5 self-help groups (SHG) for business enterprises.
The details of area treatment are given in Table I below .
The consolidated investments for field bunding , new pond development, and old pond renovation have been 199,810; 2,913,555 and 2,463,885 INR respectively. Those in agro-horticulture, agro-forestry and fodder development were 34,388; 66,975 and 132,574 INR respectively. The
expenses for livelihood support have been INR 116,188 (poultry), 33,600 (duckery) and 72,000 (piggery) respectively. Expense for SHG has been 99,500 INR. Training cost has been 76,600 INR.
In the livelihood support effort 18 beneficiary in 7 villages were provided poultry training, 12 beneficiaries in 7 villages were trained in duck rearing and 6 beneficiaries in 6 villages were trained in piggery.
One SHG group each in four villages was formed for business development in making bead necklaces as craft and piggery, leaf plate stitching, poultry and duck rearing. Thirteen farmers’ clubs  were formed and supported in the watershed area. These clubs are assisted in credit linkage, technology transfer and market tie-up. Man of the relatively poor farmers participate in these clubs and benefit through collective action and agricultural and related production.
III. FAMILY SURVEY
The family survey is carried out through a questionnaire with a basic set of queries on demographic data, land, livestock, crop cultivation, daily food consumption, residencial home information, yearly income and expense information. It also includes questions on secondary and tertiary means of income generation such as through livestock, upland cultivation, dry season cultivation, kitchen garden, fishery and others.
This is extended to add questions that attempt to analyze the impact of the watershed development project in the families socioeconomic condition.
We focus on the villages in the Hatiasuli-Bankber watershed along with the direct beneficiaries of the livelihood support activity. The general framework of the activity and role pair, shown in italics in Table II, impacts the three dimensions of the developmental activities. Watershed activities include the area treatment activities, livestock support, water management including new pond and old pond renovation etc.
The land area treatment activities have components such as FB, NP , RP , AH, AF and fodder development are common resources for the community of the thirteen villages. A subset of villages is affected by each activity. We frame questions applicable to villages that were affected by each activity. We identify which watershed development components are relevant for the activities and frame the questions appropriately. For example, FB affected the village lands of 6 of the 13 villages. The questions are specific to these villages and are expected to reveal benefit acquired by the result of the activity.
We use a simple model for each activity. For example, the “role” segment of the FB activity will be to conserve water, stop soil erosion and improve land quality. This is expected to help in agricultural productivity (multi-cropping in dry season) that increases income. The “income growth” segment of the question would be “what is your agricultural income, how much from dry-land farming, how much increase in income etc.”.
Similarly, the NP or RP activities are expected to conserve water, which in turn will enable fishery production, help duckery development and small-scale vegetable cultivation by small pump based irrigation for crop cultivation. The AH and AH activities will promote development of fruit orchards, firewood, wood for buildings, furniture etc. Fodder development directly benefits livestock management. The “environmental impact” would be given by question that asks if “free grazing”, “felling of trees” or “avoiding water intensive crop cultivation” is discontinued or not. The “sustainability” is given by questions that ask if income-generating productivity from land, soil, and water has been stable.
For direct beneficiaries of the watershed development project we assess the impact of the livelihood development activities such as poultry, duckery, piggery and SHG development. The corresponding questions for the individual beneficiary are essentially figuring out how these activities are working in generating alternate income and help in protecting the environment by avoiding “free grazing”, “clear felling of trees” and “avoiding water intensive crops”.
Community development is typically provided via training in expected benefit from watershed management – avoiding high water demanding crop cultivation – increasing high yielding crops. The goal is to count family members trained, topic and type of training, date, what benefit received from training – knowledge, immediate or future need addressed? In assessing the income from watershed development some of the question are – how many crop cultivation per year – has it increased? Or, is your agricultural income increased; if yes – by how much and what are the different/new crops you have cultivated?
The questions types are outlined in Table III.
Similarly, for new pond (NP) and renovated pond (RP), or for sustainability, how loss of income due to measures taken to address sustainability been recovered via agro- horticulture or agro-forestry or fodder cultivation.
With regard to environment the questions are if any training in environmental issues obtained and what active role has been undertaken (e.g. limited pasturing, tree-felling, avoiding crop cultivation that need lot of water)?
In livelihood development and sustainability the questions are you involved in livestock based business, fish production, fuel wood etc. and has your income increased and overcome the loss due to reallocation of resources to cope with environmental issues? For business via Self-help- group (SHG) questions are- have you taken any training in this role for increasing your income?
As previously mentioned, the survey is carried out by a DAC around the villages of the Hatiasuli-Bankber project. This was accomplished by using the VWC and the CWC concepts along with that of the farmers club. A VWC in each village is also a farmers club and has easy access and understanding of the needs of the village community. The family survey is conducted through the VWC and coordinated by the central watershed committee (CWC) and the Seva-Bharati administration.
As part of the data collection phase of the DAC, the individual VWC worker used the family survey questionnaire to collect responses to the questions from the corresponding village community. The entire set of village data was accumulated via the CWC. These data is analyzed jointly by the CWC and Seva-Bharati for feedback and future planning.
The overall summary of the watershed related question responses is given below in Fig. 1. About half of the population received community training, but more that that had some income rise. One third of the population thought that fishing opportunities have improved due to new constructions and renovation of ponds. Almost all thought the new ponds and renovation of old ponds helped in drinking water supply and improving bath or hygiene in general. Interestingly, almost zero people had training on environment but some had actively participated in environmental activities. Two thirds of the population had income increase in livestock.
Fig. 1. Overall village community responses
The responses at the village level is presented in Fig. 2. These are examined in the context of the area treatments at the different villages shown earlier in Table I which has been shown stacked column chart in Fig.3 for easy reference. Amlator village responses are most complete in addressing the different aspects of community development. Kapatkata village apperently had a significant restoration of old ponds and their sustainable livestock production, including duckery, fish has benefited very much. Purnapani village had some NP activity resulting in fish production although the same is not the case with Barsole village. However, Barsole has inproved in livestock productivity.
Fig. 2. Village-wise responses
Fig. 3. Village-wise Area Treatment
Observe that training in environment is indicated only for Amlator village. Sarakata village has benefited in fish production due to the NP activities.
The family survey also collected data on income increase (see Fig. 2). All the surveyed villages had income increase. Sarakata village had income increase from fish production due to the NP activity.
The survey indicated that the average yearly income of all the villages is 41,635 INR and the average increase in income is around 5% of that. This is a good indication
because the increase is sustainable. The minimum to maximum yearly income of the villages varies widely. The smallest value of this ratio is 0.02 and the largest value is 0.60 showing a wide variation in income levels. Note, that many of the villagers are landless laborers and some villagers do not depend on agriculture and are employed in relatively high salaried jobs.
The analysis exposes village and individual level socioeconomic condition of the families in the community as a distribution of the “environmental impact”, “income growth” and “sustainability” for overall and individual activities. All villages have indicated some level of income increase and access to more water. The sustainability is a measure of economic stability in the context of control of environmentally negative behaviors. For example, fodder cultivation in uplands and forestlands provides scope for avoiding uncontrolled pasturing of cattle and livestock. Duckery or piggery provides alternate means of income generation to avoid felling of trees from the forest.
The visualization of the surveyed data and analysis has been used in community level discussions and helps in generating community participation and appreciation of the project activities. The different means of visualization such as simple plots, graphs and diagrams with appropriate labels/comments excites the community in articulating common problems and solutions. We see an immense value in using the concept of DAC in understanding the impact of the watershed development projects.
The survey quality and the analysis can be vastly improved by proper design and implementation strategy. Data collection can be carried out within known time period and in a continuous fashion. The village community can self report some of the survey data as they are convinced of the value of DAC. The training component of DAC needs to improve so that these sorts of refinement and improvements can occur.
Seva-Bharati has started to work in a second watershed project involving a fourteen-village community. DACs for multiple watershed projects can be integrated to facilitate higher-level assessment and generating feedback. It greatly helps in community participation. Since, multiple DACs can be integrated and scaled up to link into regional and national ICT network we believe we can open up a new avenue for inter community cooperation in development practices.
 Bulbul Sen, Ranjan K Sen, “Implementation of Data-aware Community in Kapgari Village Community”, IEEE GHTC 2015, 129- 136.
 Bulbul Sen, Ranjan K Sen, “Bottom-up integration of data-aware communities: Some initial work in Kapgari village community”, IEEE GHTC 2014, 445-450.
 Watershed Development Fund (NABARD) https://www.nabard.org/english/Watershed_Development_Fund.aspx
 Seva-Bharati Krishi Vigyan Kendra, ICAR Project www.sevabharatikvk.org
 Progress Report on The FIP Phase (1st to 3rd) of Participatory Development of Hatiasuli-Bankber Micro watershed project (under WDF, NABARD).
 Innovative Water Conservation in India https://www.greengrants.org/2012/04/30/whats-a-bund-innovative- water-management-in-india/
 Empowering Farming Community through Farmer’s Club http://www.icar.org.in/en/node/5722
In order to define the idea of a DAC consider what we mean by a community. A community is typically a collection of people that are bound by some common interest. For example, a village community is a collection of villages and the people there who would be interested in improving their agricultural production. Another example, a group of photographers who may be interested in photo products such as cameras, digital processing software, their prices and quality etc.
We can have wiki pages, sharepoint sites for such communities where the members and interested parties posts notes. But these posts are static.
Think about such pages which are active – they can automatically summarize information, send out notifications, allow members to register, analyze products and qualities over time etc.
One example of a DAC we are currently working on in the ECO project is the Kapgari village community. The common goal is to improve agricultural production, improve income, reduce cost and consumptions, improve livestock, tools, technology etc for better socio-economic life.
Data aware approach of planning and development is possible only when we can capture data, manage them efficiently and use them as evidence of actual development in the grass-roots.
We can argue about what is the correct policy for development to follow – pundits of all sorts are busy doing that. While that is very important and should be continued, the validation that these policies are working can only be possible if we can collect grass-roots level evidences. With modern information technology it is possible to create a data aware environment at the grass roots where people can collect, manage and analyze micro socio-economic data to better understand the development scenario.
The data aware approach is schematically shown in the figure to the right. Individual communities collect, manage and analyze data and optionally provide feedback (the up word arrows) to the planning and deployment organizations at the district, state, national or international (when applicable) levels. Note, in general, multiple communities can participate, each with region specific data. As the data and feedback is moved up to the planning bodies they are collated, merged and aggregated to relevant planning topics.
The communities at the grass roots own and manage the data. They collect the data via family surveys or from data agencies. We assume that the necessary knowledge/skills required to use relevant technology (surveying techniques, mobile devices, database usage etc. ) must be locally available. This can be implemented through special programs that can be part of school or college curricula in information technology.
The data dissemination up ward is implemented via the Internet and cloud technology. In India, there is a eGovernment effort for covering national, state and district level decision making. We plan to integrate the data aware system to provide relevant feedback and data from the communities.