WFN and Pragya Project with the Big Lottery Fund winner Gargi Banerji, India

India 2006 – 2011

Project Background

With the Big Lottery Fund’s support, our long-term work to improve the livelihoods of marginalised rural communities has had a real impact. A more sustainable future which will ensure the protection of wild resources is now possible.Project Leader, Gargi Banerji

In December 2005 WFN were awarded a grant of £516,429 by The Big Lottery Fund to facilitate development of the existing partnership with 2000 Whitley Gold Award winner, Gargi Banerji, of India and her NGO, Pragya. The focus of the partnership was to address the needs of vulnerable communities in the Himalayan desert environments and help to bring about sustainability in the use of natural resources. Working principally in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, WFN have developed a strong partnership with Gargi and Pragya, further supporting her work to conserve and cultivate the region’s medicinal plants through Continuation Funding in 2003 and 2005.  The Big Lottery Fund supported project has allowed the expansion of Gargi’s previous work to ensure that local people have greater access to food security and financial credit during recurrent droughts. The project also aimed to boost access to clean water for the landless people, farmers and pastoralists in the cold desert areas and rehabilitate degraded lands for up to 40,000 people living in the project area.

The project focussed on the Indian Himalayan districts of Kinnaur, Lahaul & Spiti, Chamba and Leh

The Big Lottery Fund grant marked a key watershed in both the development of WFN and Pragya, enabling each to develop capacity for international partnership and shared learning.

Project Outputs

A major output of the Big Lottery Fund project partnership between Pragya and WFN was the completion of a report to research and consider prospects for selling sustainably sourced medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) from rural Himalayan communities to international markets. The report was authored by Simon Mills and Joey Lee of Plant Medicine CIC in the UK, who were independent of the project.

Pragya’s Achievements Through Big Lottery Fund Support

To mark the end of this 5 year project, a detailed Project Leaflet has been produced to share best practice and encourage interested NGOs to get in touch.


This project can be considered a blueprint for sustainable MAP livelihoods and improved water access in cold desert regions. Further to our end-project dissemination activities, other organisations working in similar regions are encouraged to get in touch. There is much expertise to share!

If you would like to learn more about the project, please email [email protected].

If you would like to learn more about conservation and environmental sustainability in the Himalayas, please visit