Internship planning and research design with CHIRAG staff has commenced in earnest. We have a diverse range of fascinating projects that directly support ongoing CHIRAG initiatives. Particularly exciting for UW students is the opportunity to do primary research. Over the next few days we post a synopsis of the internships.
~ Mapping of springs in the Reetha and Suyalbari areas. The goal of this project is to generate a detailed map of active springs (perennial and seasonal), interview villagers on seasonal fluctuations in water availability, map inactive/dry springs and identify how long they have been dry. This information will provide a basis for groundwater (aquifer) recharge design and planning (eg. for building check dams & contour trenches) to better manage water availability for domestic and agricultural use.
~ Rural BPO’s (business processing office), a segment of the outsourcing industry, have been increasing as rents, labor and energy costs climb in India’s urban and peri-urban areas. In 2009 B2R Technologies set up office in village Simayal becoming CHIRAG’s neighbor. (See The Economic Times article titled “The Rural Jobs Rush” for background on rural BPO’s in general with a focus on B2R and CHIRAG. CHIRAG provides needed support to identify and train village young people in the skills necessary to adapt to B2R’s requirements. The changes this has manifest in area village youth, particularly young women, has, to date, not been assessed. Three UW students are collaborating with CHIRAG staff to interview the young people employed with B2R Technologies to 1) gauge the changes in their self perception, 2) learn how their families are reacting to their children’s employment (is it affecting family dynamics? If so, how?), 3) what are the reactions among the village communities, particularly those who are not involved with B2R’s work. The goal of this internship is to critically examine the changes in the lives of the rural youth employed in this new sector in the region.
Time certainly flies when studying and working here in the Himalaya! Days are full hence the frequent delays in posting updates. As promised several weeks back, here are the balance of the student internships with CHIRAG.
~ Detailed survey of all children 0-6 to examine trends in sex ratio in this age group. The goal of this survey is to get a better sense of the local trends in sex ratio considering the trend in some areas of India and the world where preference for male children is increasing. The recent census data (2011) indicates an improvement in girl child births. But the census sampling methods and techniques only capture a macro level scale of this trend. The local trends are not captured in this type of sampling. Furthermore it is difficult to capture sex selective abortion in sex ratio sampling. This challenging study is an attempt to illuminate sex ratio trends in the area.
~ Examination of trends/choices in the use of agricultural inputs (organic & commercial) and innovative methods in varying ecological regimes (rainfed, irrigated, aspect, slope, soil type, etc.). This study focuses on the affect of land use, types of inputs used, and environmental factors to detail variation on input and land management.
~ One student is helping to revive CHIRAG’s dormant soil testing laboratory. This is part of a project to examine best practices in composting (eg. vermi-composting) and the myriad factors contributing to soil health.
~ Survey of how different sources of credit are identified, used, and managed. In this examination of the dynamics of micro-finance in the area the study expects to illuminate the types and sources of credit (formal and informal), how preferences affect choice of financial tools and credit, how people diversify their risk, and the extent of dependence on various sources of credit.
~ A study of how members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) use the resources within the SHG. If they are not using all of their resources (eg. using SHG savings for loans) why are they seeking outside sources (particularly when interest rates within the SHG are often lower than outside sources). If the SHG is not using their savings/credit resources what are the other reasons for being members of the SHG. What intangible benefits can be identified?
~ In the efforts to create micro-enterprises in the area (eg. bringing value addition to primary agricultural produce) CHIRAG has initiated agricultural cooperatives and federations. One initiative is a cattle feed micro-enterprise managed and operated by women. This project aims to examine the 1) changes in milk productivity and animal health comparing the locally produced cattle feed and commercial cattle feed, 2) cost benefit analysis considering the higher quality of locally produced feed (nutritional needs met with 50% reduction in feed per animal) and the relatively higher raw material cost of the locally produced cattle feed.
~ The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is encouraging women to choose institutions (eg. hospital) versus homes for childbirth. This student study examines why women are choosing either institutional or home births. Some of the questions include, is it based on the NRHM education campaign? The cash incentives offered to subsidize institutional births? If midwives are trained for safe delivery in the home, what drives the choice between institutional and home birth?
~ For the last 10 years CHIRAG has had a residential training program (35 days) for adolescent girls, Kishori Shiksha Kendra, (and a separate program for boys) providing vocational training and building leadership skills. This student study aims to survey young women who have done the KSK training in the past 5-6 years to better understand what impacted them most from the training. CHIRAG hopes to learn how their investment in the program has affected change in the young women’s lives.