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Enhancing Livelihoods and Household Security in Rural Jharkhand

Location: Chaibasa

The most backward and deprived communities of rural Jharkhand live a marginal existence on the very edge of subsistence, and any untoward event that negatively affects the crops pushes them over the edge, forcing male community members to migrate away from their villages to find work elsewhere. In an effort to address the extremely tenuous living conditions of these villagers, the government of Jharkhand established the Jharkhand Tribal Development Society and funded IDF to develop a project that would provide them with a sustainable way of improving their livelihoods.

Targeting a total of 13 villages over a period of eight years, IDF overcame widespread initial resistance on the part of these very traditional communities and introduced a range of capacity-building and awareness activities to enable community members to increase their incomes. Common interest groups and women's self-help groups were formed and became the main platform for carrying out the program through the establishment of micro-credit systems offering members loans to set up their own agricultural businesses. Innovations ranged from the introduction of aquaculture and improved cultivation of pulses and vegetables to better livestock management and watershed treatments.

As a result of these interventions, members of the targeted communities were able to put themselves on a more secure financial footing and avoid the necessity of migrating following any natural disaster. In addition, community members were educated about their political as well as economic rights and came to understand for the first time that they could take part in the process of their own governance. While progress is slow, and there is some continued resistance to outside intervention, the lives and expectations of these villagers have changed permanently for the better.

Click here for the project report (pdf).

Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Deep Joshi speaking to an IDF-sponsored SHG