29 August, 2015

Central India Initiative organises community leader retreats to unlock the potential of tribal communities

Sixty women leaders take pledge to promote lakhpati farmers and smart villages

Jharkhand: Tata Trusts' Central India Initiative held the first of its kind event – Urja – a retreat of women leaders from the community who are taking a lead in bringing prosperity in their villages. Working with a credo of Lakhpati farmers, smart villages, the initiative believes in community's strength in liberating themselves from the plight of poverty. With this core belief, the initiative is looking to develop platforms that allow successful women community leaders to share their journey and get acknowledged for their efforts. Building on the previous positive experiences in the central India region, the Initiative aims to bring irreversible impact on quality of life and livelihood of 300,000 households following mission mode in operation over 2015-20. This mission could only be reached with community being the main agent of such change. The initiative is anchored by CInI, the nodal agency of the Tata Trusts for the initiative.

60 successful women leaders from Churchu (Hazaribag), Murhu (Khunti), Dalbhumgarh and Gorabandha blocks of East Singhbhum participated in two events held in Ranchi and Jamshedpur this week. The leaders vividly articulated the change that they see in their own life and their effort in bringing similar change in the village. "I regained my dignity and confidence with my association in SHG. With enhanced income from improved agriculture, now my family is together, staying in the village." Elisaba Nag of Bhursu village in Khunti shared emphatically." "The participation of women SHG members in "Aam Sabha" meeting has increased significantly since last two years in our village" Saraswati Mahato, Village Raghunathdih, Dhalbhumgarh shared.

The leaders acknowledged the role of community institutions' in linking excluded households with livelihood interventions and committed to expanding and strengthening them. "We have successfully converted unutilized uplands into productive use with commercial vegetable cultivation. Enhanced income helped in investing in child health and education. Most importantly this is the story of many villages in the area" Baby Kumari, from Chanaro village shared. The participants together envisioned the image of Smart Village - a village that is capable of managing its own affairs. Basanti Devi, from Harhad village in her own vision of 2020 shared "We women will be more upfront in all fields of life with gained confidence".

The event closed with members taking pledge of continuing similar efforts in motivating and including all women in this journey towards prosperity. Sharmila Kisku resolved by taking immediate plan of sharing the vision of village in 2020 to other members of SHGs, village organizations and Dalma Mahila Sangh. Akheli Murmu, Sudgi village, Gorabunda, in her pledge resolved "we will take all steps from our SHG to ensure access to irrigation in villages with little irrigation coverage ". Suroti besra, village Talebeda, Gurabandha block, resolved "We will not leave any upland un-cultivated during kharif."

Based on the success of these retreats, the Tata Trusts now plan to organize these on a bi-annual basis which will serve as a platform for sharing of ideas and experiences with each other and co-create the vision of lakhpati farmers and smart villages with shared accountability.

About Central India Initiative
The Central India Initiative of the Tata Trusts develops comprehensive solutions for the Central Indian Tribal belt – home to 65% of the adivasi communities of the country. Concentrated in the 900 blocks across Central India, these communities have stayed on the margins of development. These are spread across Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Notwithstanding the rich vegetation and good rainfall, the tribal people living in these districts live in conditions of poverty and often face acute food insecurity. To take forward the initiative in a focused manner, the Trusts, along with other stakeholders, formally registered an associate organization called Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI) on May 17, 2007 under the Societies Registration Act 1958.

CInI serves as a nodal agency for the Tata Trusts for the Central Indian Tribal belt. Under this, it worked with various civil society organisations, agriculture and other knowledge institutions, state agencies to establish models have been established that can significantly impact livelihoods in this region. Independent impact studies show that the work of partners, with technical support from CInI, has resulted in increase in annual incomes from Rs. 24,000 at baseline to up to Rs. 80,000 per household and significant changes through these projects on the quality of life of tribal households in terms of: (a) increased food sufficiency; (b) enhancing resilience of tribal households through diversification of livelihood options; (c) enhanced incomes; and (d) increased access to mainstream resources. CInI has initiated Mission 2020, where it intends to develop 42 blocks as drivers of regional growth while bringing prosperity to 300,000 households through making them lakhpati farmers and promoting vibrant community institutions.

About Tata Trusts
Tata Trusts are leading philanthropic organizations with interests in education, health, livelihoods, arts and culture. We believe in doing what it takes to make a difference. The Trusts promote innovation and enterprise while bringing global best practices for irreversible development gains for communities.

For more information please visit http://tatatrusts.org/

Shilpi Ghosh

Email: sighosh@tatatrusts.org
Mobile: 0989251338
Tata Trusts, Mumbai

Pritha Chatterjee
Email: pritha.chatterjee@edelman.com
Mobile: 07506354505