Thrust Areas


CEDSJ recognizes that environmental issues require to be dealt with in a long run perspective. We believe that there are no quick xes to environmental issues. Taking a short run view is not only ineffective but at times can also be damaging. Sustainable solutions that stay true in the long run require a holistic, long term approach.

Micro-level Holistic Development

A global phenomenon like climate change has its roots in activities that are localized at micro-level. Solutions to tackle local issues that collectively result in macro-level phenomenon have to be devised. This is particularly true in rural areas that have dispersed populations where highly technical solutions may not be feasible. Rural areas have to deal with climate variability, erratic weather patterns, rising temperatures and uncertainity of rainfall. Over time these change the nature of soil and water which in turn make some traditional activities unsustainable. One of the fallouts of these changes is farming becoming a low earning occupation resulting in increasing migration from rural to urban areas. Many rural areas are left with only women, very young or old males who are unable to provide adequate earning for household needs.

At the global level, the efforts to combat climate change are focused on carbon emissions, rise in temperatures and other issues that emanate mostly from industrial and urban activities. These phenomena are now broadly termed as 'climate change'. Taking cognigence of global phenomena, related policies and interventions, our emphasis is on creating integrated solutions for local issues that could be replicable and sustainable in the long term and across geographical boundaries. Three constituents of this approach are to create and enabling environment for action oriented solutions for integrated management.

Enabling Environment

The key to designing and implementing sustainable and replicable interventions is participatory planning and management. The success of a participatory management systems has some pre- requisites.

First, people agree to participating only when they recognise the relevance and the need for interventions that can be implemented only through participation. People need to be made aware of the issues, policies, regulatory and administrative environment within which work has to be done in order that they may contribute constructively to the solutions. With this approach awareness and capacity building exercises are conducted. Administrative personnel at the ground level are an essential part of such exercises for ending an effective intervention design. Second, inclusion of all levels of social and economic strata especially with respect to ensuring participation of women is essential. Traditional values and systems have to be respected to enable social justice without creating convict with the social environment. Local leaders and youth are included in the exercise. Third, it is important for institutional, technical, nancial and schematic resources to converge and work together for achieving the objectives. Cohesive efforts of all the stakeholders towards effective implementation of interventions is of utmost importance.

Successful intervention requires continuous hand-holding support at all the stages. CEDSJ provides not only guidance but also technical and scientific support to its partners for efficient implementation.

Once all the above pre-requisites are met, participation of people for bringing change in social, economic and environmental aspects of development becomes a reality. Successful solutions are not only sustainable in the long run but are also replicable through demonstration.

Integrated Solutions and Sustainable Livelihood

Development issues, particularly environmental issues need to be tackled at multiple fronts. Environmental issues at micro-level are to a large extent embedded in the livelihoods of people and affect them directly or indirectly. Thus, an integrated approach is required to address environmental issues. Water conservation, for example must be part of an integrated water resource management and integrated land management systems.

Action-Oriented, People Centric

We engage in action-oriented research which is focused on specific issues in targeted geographies and groups. Our research is not theoretical in nature. However, we draw heavily upon the available and ongoing research and debate and use them as framework to create sustainable and replicable models that can be implemented in the field. We also pay special attention to the fact that our work is oriented towards the demands and needs of the people and the social and physical environment. This keeps us close to the ground- level realities and does not allow political and programmatic demands influence our solutions. We have constant feedback and corrective mechanisms built-in into our models and solutions that allows for target groups to actively become partners in their own development.


In the past ten years CEDSJ has contributed to a deeper understanding of various dimensions of rural life while working on contemporary issues. Since the inception of the centre, we have identied our key areas of work based on the needs/ requirements of the region and our expertise.

Water Conservation and Natural Resource Management

Water Conservation and Natural Resource Management are one of the areas that is of key interest to CEDSJ. Changing and erratic rainfall patterns, growing pollution of water bodies, increasing human and industrial activities have put a great pressure on water and other natural resources. This situation is particularly acerbated in urban areas across the country and in semi-arid and arid areas of states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. CEDSJ works in the area of water conservation and management and supports NGOs in grass root level activities. CEDSJ has conducted numerous studies in collaboration with various national and international agencies highlighting the alarming situation of water scarcity in order to promote conservation strategies and acceptable solutions. CEDSJ is a proponent of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and Community Management of Natural Resources and has been working with State Governments and field level organizations in developing customized, field-level, people-centric systems based on regional and local level scenarios that incorporate the core idea of IWRM. In its efforts, CEDSJ has partnered with various national and international organizations such as, Global Water Partnership, ISET-USA, University of West of England, UK and strives to promote

NRM activities at field level. One of the seminal projects of CEDSJ in promoting Community Management of Groundwater Resources (CMGR) approach towards water conservation and water resource management has been in Chirawa block of the Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan and Community Management of Natural Resources in River Basin (the Mashi River Sub-Basin) in Jaipur District. We have been able to apply innovative ideas such as the 'Water Parliament' in Mashi River Basin to ensure community participation and management of water resources for long-term sustainability.

CEDSJ has also conducted numerous research studies in the area of drinking water security across the arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan. Our research on drinking water security in arid Rajasthan, supported by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for further action is recognition of our efforts towards improving drinking water security in the region.

Climate Change

Climate Change and its adverse impact on the micro environment and local ecology have been well recognized and documented. Climate change refers to the adverse impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on climate at a global scale resulting in global warming (average increase in temperatures across the world). Erratic weather patterns, impact on local climate, untimely and insufficient rainfall, changing daily temperature patterns are some of the fallouts of climate change. Efforts are afoot at a global scale to address this issue. Developing countries are likely to bear the brunt of impact of global warming as they are more vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change. These changing patterns have affected both urban as well as rural areas, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas of the country. CEDSJ as part of its environmental initiatives actively seeks opportunities to design solutions and implement strategies in partnership with NGOs working in the environmental arena. CEDSJ works both on mitigation strategies to reduce and wherever possible reverse the effects of climate change as well as on adaptation strategies by designing coping mechanisms. Experts working with CEDSJ identify the core issues contributing to growing stress on natural resources. These issues include weather and climate change patterns at local level, changes in usage and extraction of natural resources, trends in social and economic scenarios. Strategies and coping mechanisms that are best suited for local implementation are designed.

As part of its advisory role, CEDSJ informs and educates its partners, local agents of change, and people about the adverse impacts of climate change. In this, the Centre has partnered with various governmental and non-governmental organizations and CBOs working at the grass root levels. We have used our expertise to educate and assist organizations and people in implementing rain-water harvesting and artificial recharge projects to ensure drinking water security and availability of water for irrigation, industrial and other purposes. The Centre has provided advisory and technical support to industrial entities such as Mahindra World City Jaipur in designing and implementing effective rain water harvesting and artificial recharge system in the Special Economic Zone.

Livelihoods and Integrated Resource Management

CEDSJ has been working continuously towards improving the livelihoods of people living in fragile, resource poor environments in order that scarce resources may provide greater returns without their depletion. Best t solutions are tried through integrated resource management and alternative resource use strategies as well as by convergence of government schemes. Role of livestock in dry land agriculture, risk aversion to climate variation and coping strategies for unexpected climate variation are some of the aspects that have been part of research at the Centre.

Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening

Empowered people and strong institutions are crucial to implementing effective development programmes. Therefore, capacity building, knowledge creation, and awareness building are integral to the development process. Governance and management systems are often found lacking in understanding of social and institutional mechanisms associated with policies.

The Centre assists organizations in complying with the environmental policy regimes of the state by advising them on best and relevant practices of water conservation and management. Creating awareness about environmental issues and how practitioners, groups, organizations and state actors can work towards sustainable economic and social growth constitutes part of dialogues organized by the Centre.

Decentralized Good Governance Practices

Implementation at the micro-level requires practices that may not get focused attention in macro level solutions. We attempt to design good governance practices that fall within the policy framework and apply them to natural resource management regimes. CEDSJ attempts to apply participatory and decentralized governance practices in implementation of strategies for community based management systems. In this context the Centre has been able to create parallel governance systems in the project titled “Jal Sansad in Mashi River Sub-Basin” (RV water parliament) resulting in better management of water resources for benefitting the community.


The Centre has been pursuing research studies and organising dialogues, training and interactions in five main areas, viz., Economic Policies and Strategies; Natural Resource Management and Environment; NGO and PR Centre; Social Policies: Institutions, Governance and Civil Society; and Women and Gender Studies.

Economic Policies and Strategies

Economic Policies and Strategies has been another important thrust area identified by the Centre for research and dialogues. Apart from economic studies, our activities in this area include policy dialogues, trainings and advocacy. Our past and continuing studies and dialogues in this area include sectoral studies covering agriculture, livestock, non-farm sector and urban informal sector; rural finance and credit; and poverty and unemployment. Agricultural sector has been the most intensively studied economic sector by the CEDSJ researchers. The issues probed are agricultural policies, food security, farm inputs particularly fertilizer and irrigation, capital formation, marketing, and liberalization of agriculture. The researchers have also undertaken studies focussing on rice, food security and agricultural marketing systems in southeast and south Asia. The livestock sector studies at the Institute have covered economics of sheep and goat rearing, marketing of wool, goat, goat products and other live animals; inter-sectoral linkages, livestock services and dairy processing. Keeping in view the emerging importance of rural non-farm sector, the researchers at CEDSJ have analyzed employment pattern in khadi and handicrafts and rural industry, and the system of credit delivery to this sector. Urban informal sector was studied with a focus on labour market, child labour, employment and income. The issue of poverty and management of poverty alleviation programmers (PAP) and livelihood adaptation has been the central focus of a number of studies and dialogues.

Apart from these, the Centre in recent years concentrated on policies and programs pertaining to different sectors of the economy which include subsidies in agriculture, spatial integration of agricultural markets, institutional finance and rural credit, financial sector reforms, evaluation of Indira Avas Yojana and Million Well Scheme, micro credit in Rajasthan, economic performance of Rajasthan, studies related to DPIP, terms of trade for agricultural sector at the state level, equity driven trade and marketing policy strategies for Indian agriculture, rural industrialization, panchayat samiti wise development status index, food security, coping mechanisms in drought conditions, tourism and structural transformation of Rajasthan economy.

Our dialogues in the area of economic policies and strategies have covered such issues as agricultural policies during the nineties; drought mitigation and food stocks; agricultural marketing reforms; employment guarantee; and future of agriculture in Asia. The centre has been conducting training programmes for development administrators, functionaries and analysts at national and international levels. For example, a series of training programmes on agricultural policy analysis and planning were conducted for development administrators of Asia and Africa. A similar series of international training programmes on macro policies for poverty alleviation was subsequently launched. The centre has also organized trainings on environmental economics, research methods, input-output analysis and poverty analysis at national and state levels.

Natural Resource Management and Environment

In a state, with over 60 percent of its area under desert environment and the bulk of its remaining area with less than 60 cm of annual precipitation, water is the most scarce resource and critical to the survival and livelihood of the people of Rajasthan and several other parts of India. This has, therefore, been one of the thrust areas for intensive study. Based on a series of studies, the Institute is attempting to influence the water use policy for water scarce regions. The studies, which have been built as a series, pertain to the demand for water, supply of water and allocative mechanism, both institutional and market. In each of these sub-sets, relevant studies have been undertaken with a view to eventually influencing the water use policy, strategies and attitudes towards water. On supply side, our studies and dialogues have covered rainfall patterns, ground water and surface water sources. As regards demand side issues, our studies have covered demand for drinking water, irrigation, other uses, water markets and pricing of water. These apart, water laws, water pollution, local water management options, water balance modeling, economic evaluation of water projects and bench marking of irrigation projects have been covered by our studies and dialogues. The role of communities in water conservation and issues relating to ownership and control of water received added emphasis.

The other resource selected by the Institute for intensive study is livestock, which is critical for the people of Rajasthan. Within livestock, the centre initially accorded priority to the small animals, viz., sheep and goat, as these are important components of the farming systems in various regions. The goat and sheep breeders do not often fetch remunerative prices due to their weak forward linkages with the market and processing industry. The Centre has probed the linkages and identified areas of interventions at various levels for improving the incomes of goat and sheep breeders. Government functionaries and voluntary organizations are trying the identified interventions in selected areas. In recent years, we have extended our studies on dairying, impact of commercialization of livestock services on poor, and to cover role of local institutions in improving the productivity of grazing lands. The Centre has been looking at social forestry and bio-diversity. Using intensive anthropological fieldwork methods, a study, focussing on the Luni River, is examining relationship between bio-diversity and land-use. The findings seem to question some of the basic assumptions of development priorities in the region. These apart, our dialogues and studies include issues relating to environment and development; environmental economics, watershed management, and degradation of lands. Land reforms and land use patterns have also received the attention of researchers at the Institute. With a view to monitoring the status of natural resources, the Centre has established a laboratory to interpret the images available from satellite remote sensing. Based on these, the resource use plans for sustainable development of selected areas in both irrigated and dry land regions are being worked out. Remote sensing technology has also been used in our studies on 20 irrigation projects and identification of performance indicators for Rajasthan Water Resource Consolidation Project.

Social Policies: Institutions, Governance and Civil Society

A large number of studies covering different aspects of education, health, empowerment of people, governance and civil society were undertaken by the researchers at the Institute. Conceptual framework of social assessment has been part of development discourse and empirical study in the field situation. Apart from the rigour of statistical analysis, the researchers have used PRA, social mapping, participatory observations, focussed group discussions and case study methods for social assessment studies.

The major thrust of the Centre in the area of social policies has been on primary education, women's education and non-formal education. The Institute has been involved in the design and participatory evaluation of the DPEP and DPIP. This apart, the Institute has under taken several studies relating to elementary education and literacy. The Institute has done social assessment for District Primary Education Project (DPEP) in 19 identified districts and for DPIP in seven districts of the state. The Institute was involved in concurrent evaluation of Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) in the state, which provided important feed back for mid-course correction in the campaign besides a composite view of external evaluations of TLCs. The Institute has also undertaken studies and organized dialogues on role of PRIs; communities in co-existence; impact of ICDS; role of NGO sector and self-help groups; pro-poor urban planning; child labour; street children; fertility and migration; development of scheduled castes, malnutrition and health education of adolescent girls. The Institute provided bench marks for DPIP and DPEP. It is also involved in process monitoring of DPIP and Integrated Child Labour Project of ILO in Rajasthan.

Women and Gender Studies

Identification of Women and Gender Issues as a thrust area of studies and dialogues grew out of the recognition of gender based subordination in society - an injustice, which needs to be, countered both at the individual and collective level. The attempt of the Institute has been to examine, question, address, alter and redefine those mechanisms through which subordination is legitimized, taken for granted and internalized as personal destiny. The Institute is trying to create a research base to dispel deep-seated attitudinal biases and create fresh knowledge through data, logic and cognitive interpretations. The efforts have been to bring rural, poor women's perceptions on social, economic and political issues into policy and planning discourse.

The Centre's faculty actively contributed to the Women Development Programmes of the State. The faculty participates and contributes to the trainings at village, regional and national levels on gender issues. Women in decision making and local governance; malnutrition among women and children; empowerment of adolescent girls through health education; situational analysis of women and children; women in literacy campaigns; violence against women; training in gender planning; gender in education; women and children's health; gender and food security; gender and natural resource management; gender and cultural issues and gender and poverty have received emphasis in Institute's studies, dialogues and trainings. The Institute has effectively contributed to the women's movement; capacity building on gender issues and mainstreaming gender concerns in policy and planning discourse. Childhood poverty, trafficking of women and children, girl child and child protection received added emphasis.

NGO and Panchayati Raj Centre

Apart from the core research oriented areas, the Centre has an important unit called NGO and PR Centre. The NGO and PR Centre was established with a view to maintaining close contacts with NGOs and representatives of PRIs for pursuing a better understanding of development processes, to provide a forum for reasoned debate on issues concerning them and their dialogue with policy planners, experts and thinkers and to strengthen and facilitate the development efforts of NGOs by way of training their personal and information sharing.

The specific activities pursued by the Institute in this area include advocacy, skill development, networking and undertaking research studies related to voluntary initiatives and PRIs. The advocacy role of the Institute has been mainly in the area of poverty alleviation, empowerment of local institutions, gender equity, child rights, early childhood care, gram and ward sabhas, women members of PRIs, reproductive and child health, and violence against women. The Institute has been contributing to the development of skills of PRI representatives and NGO workers in the area of project formulation, documentation, report writing, community mobilization and leadership, training needs assessment, development of training modules and training of trainers. The Institute has been providing a fora to NGOs and PRIs to interact with state government, national organizations and international development agencies on areas of mutual concerns. The Centre's faculty has been undertaking several studies with the help of grassroots NGOs on several aspects related to their role in development programmes and initiatives. It has developed or helped the state government and international agencies in developing training modules for PRIs in the area of general role of panchas, sarpanches, education, early childhood care, nutrition, and adolescent girls. The Centre has a regular feature of bringing out and updating a directory of voluntary organizations functioning in the state. The Centre's faculty actively associates in various dialogues and training programmes for elected representatives of PRIs and on decentralized planning organised by the state government.


The three pillars of the centre's strength are Research, Training, and Dialogue. The CEDSJ team strives to provide its expertise in these key areas.

A. Research–

Micro-level action oriented CEDSJ fosters a multi- disciplinary action oriented research to develop effective solutions. Our research methodogies follow a people-centric approach to design and cater to the needs of environment conservation in which people are not targets for interventions but are considered as our clients.The research team keeps abreast of economic and social developments that impact micro-level entitities that are lost sight of by macro level solutions. While focusing on specic issues, our research is practical and applicable in nature. We draw heavily upon the available and current research and debate and use them as framework for alternative, sustainable and replicable models. Feedback and corrective mechanisms that are built-in into our models and solutions allow people to actively become partners in their own development and use them as framework to create sustainable and replicable models that can be implemented in the eld. This keeps us close to the ground-level realities and does not allow political and programmatic demands inuence our solutions

Our research focuses on policy design processes and impact of direct public interventions at the local levels. These includes participatory efforts of community based organizations and non-government entities.

A major part of our research is focused on natural resource management and conservation. Our principal regions of interest include arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan that face crisis due to over exploitation and degradation of natural resources. Chronic water shortages and difculties in traditional livestock management practices are some of the issues aficting rural as well as in urban areas. The goal is to promote and build awareness on critical

water issues and trigger actions to facilitate the efcient management and use of water on an environmentally sustainable basis. CEDSJ helps design interventions to deal with rejuvenation of natural resources. We study traditional coping mechanisms to deal with degradation and depletion. This is considered necessary to devise solutions using new technologies for efciency and sustainability. In the last 10 years our areas of research have been agriculture, livestock, land use, education, public policy analysis, evaluation of government programs and donor funded projects implemented by NGOs in some aspects of education and natural resources management.

B. Capacity Building and Training

An empowered and informed society has the capabilities to foster a sustainable environment. CEDSJ acts as a platform for training and capacity building for individuals, groups, Civil Society Organisations, etc. The focus of our trainings is on livelihood enhancement, sustainable management of natural resources. We pay special attention to correcting the gender imbalances and resource gaps by educating and informing women and empowering them to address the social, environmental, economical and gender issues.

C. Interaction and Dialogue

Since its inception, CEDSJ has been trying to establish and nurture dialogue between various entities working in the social and environmental development arena. CEDSJ acts as a platform for discussion on issues related to climate change, environmental management, gender equity and participatory management.

CEDSJ emphasizes and believes in establishing an equitable, inclusive and a just society that achieves gender equity. Thus, advocacy of child rights, economic and social empowerment, reproductive and child health, and violence against women are some of the issues that CEDSJ keeps at the forefront of its solutions.