India is a vast and diverse country, which is also a home
for over one-fourth of world’s absolute poor. IFAD,
therefore, focuses on using its limited resources to
develop innovative approaches that have a catalytic effect
in leveraging additional resources for assisting the most
vulnerable groups. The proposed programme has defined its
target group and geographical area on this basis and has
built on the experiences of the programmes, which are
nationally funded as well as assisted by International donors, particularly in the area of rain fed farming
and watershed management, and has combined these
approaches with IFAD’s own experience in India with
participatory development process through the development
of community based institutions. This is the first project
in India to adopt watershed management as an intervention
Among the social groups in India, scheduled tribes (STs)
have the highest proportion of the poor. While they
account for only 8% of the total population, they comprise
40% of the displaced population. Literacy rate among STs
is only is less than half of the general population, and
that of rural tribal women about one-fourth. The
Government of India has allocated significant amount of
resources for tribal development, but the impact has been
rather limited. The approach adopted has been more
welfare-oriented, and there has been less emphasis on the
issue of empowerment. This programme proposes to use the
opportunity created by the recent constitutional amendment
concerning the extension of the Panchayats Act to
Scheduled Areas and would assist the state governments in
putting into practice the principles established by this
act in empowering the local communities and in
establishing collaborative relationships with communities
for designing resource management strategies which meet
their perceptions and aspirations.
The programme covers two tribal populated states of India viz. Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The target groups comprises all households in the selected villages, i. e. villages with tribal, Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) and scheduled caste population of not less than 50% of the total population where the majority of the households live below the poverty line. The objective of the Programme is to develop and implement a replicable model that ensures household food security and improves livelihood opportunities and overall quality of life of the tribal population based on the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources. To achieve this, the Programme :- i) empowers tribal grassroots associations and users' groups, including women and other marginal groups; ii) promotes activities which generate sustainable increases in production and productivity of land and water resources; and iii) generates sources of income outside of agriculture, particularly for the landless.
The basic approach is to promote processes of awareness generation, legal literacy, social analysis and mobilisation for self-selecting group formation among disadvantaged women and marginalised groups. The programme supports initiatives identified, planned and implemented by beneficiaries and provides the required resources and support. The resources are managed directly by the beneficiaries after appropriate training and capacity building. These are supplied through NGOs with a proven experience in applying such approaches.
The proposed programme has three main components. Under the beneficiary empowerment and capacity building component, the programme finances broad based awareness raising of tribal rights and of gender and equity issues, legal and managerial strengthening, and technical training. Similarly, under livelihood systems enhancement, the programme finances all production-related activities as well as enabling measures, namely land and water management/ watershed development, including community-based small infrastructures; production systems improvement; rural micro-finance; and health and nutrition. Under the programme management and implementation component, the programme finances salary and allowances for Programme Implementation Unit (PIU) staff at District level, the relevant running costs for the Tribal Development Society and a skeleton Programme Management Unit (PMU), a legal defence fund, specialised and baseline studies, training for the staff and the development of training material, exposure visits, study tours, and technical assistance, and the costs of capacity building of facilitating NGOs and their contractual support services.
A gradual and phased approach is adopted to allow for the satisfactory empowerment of Gram Sabhas and for building up grassroots institutions. Therefore the programme has been carried out in two phases - a pilot phase and a scaling up phase- with a reassessment and evaluation at the end of the pilot phase and three years after commencement of the scaling up phase. It is envisaged that the programme would be completed over a eight year period.
The total programme cost over nine years, inclusive of contingencies, duties and taxes, is estimated at INR 2 276 million (USD 41.7 million). The programme funds, forming part of IFAD’s assistance, having passed through the Government of India is received by each Tribal Development Society, Chhattisgarh (TDS, who then releases the funds to the districts programme implementation units (DPIUs). The DPIU releases the funds related to the NGO capacity building and overhead costs directly to the NGOs. The funds planned for the activities to be undertaken by the communities is passed on either to special purpose committees established under the programme, or to the Gram Sabha.
The programme manageses by involving Community-based Organisations, Tribal Development Society, Programme Management Unit, District Programme Implementation Units, Non-Governmental Organisations, and relevant line agencies belonging to the government of both States. At the village level, the Gram Sabha (GS) is the basic unit for planning, co-ordinating and monitoring programme activities. The programme finances the establishment of a comprehensive M&E framework comprising a computerised programme management system (CPMS) and a MIS, a participatory process monitoring system based on annual beneficiary workshops, periodic planning and budgetary process, a mid-term review and impact assessments systems. Participatory M&E mechanisms is designed to enable the communities to monitor and evaluate their own performance, identify constraints and take corrective measures, when needed. Since the programme’s activities is demand driven, an environmental screening system (ESS) is set up a screening procedure of all requests for financing emanating from Gram Sabhas/users' groups.
The programme would benefit an estimated 74 000 households located in 1 080 natural villages: over 51 000 households would be located in Chhattisgarh, the remainder in Jharkhand. Almost 6 000 families form the primitive tribal groups (PTGs) are expected to benefit from programme interventions. With an estimated average household size of 5, there would be almost 370,000 beneficiaries. Over a 20 year period, the economic rate of return is estimated to be 14.2% for the programme aggregated over both states. While this ERR is not high, it represents reasonably good returns for a situation where grassroots institution development and capacity building is a primary focus.
The programme has a number of risks. Failure to promote community participation through creation of local leadership would cause the programme to degenerating into a conventional tribal development programme and this is the principal risk to the Programme. Secondly, the NGOs in the region, especially those in Madhya Pradesh / Chhattisgarh, are relatively inexperienced. Risks are also associated with provision of services required under the programme like Farmers Field School. Lastly, the program involves changing relationships within the development process and overcoming dependency attitudes of communities. As mentioned, most tribals have become overly dependent on Government subsidies while the proposed program expects beneficiaries' contributions in practically all the activities envisaged. This could be a risk for the program.