The livelihood for people who live in villages in based on agricultural activities, animal husbandry, hunting, and minor forest produce. However, there are many problems that have risen over the years, making these very activities more difficult and less productive. The following are some of the problems that have adversely affected the livelihood of villagers:
- Depletion of forests
- Degradation of soil
- Scarcity of water
- Lack of fodder for animals
- Government rules imposed on the use of forest produce
- Short lasting produce from land that has lost its productivity due to environmental problems
- Increase in borrowing from moneylenders due to lack of food and produce
- Exploitation by moneylenders who charge high interest rates
- Migration to cities in search of an alternative source of income as a result of inability to meet the family’s financial needs and exploitation by moneylenders
Livelihood intervention measures
These environmental problems adversely affect the economic standing of families in villages, forcing them to borrow money at high rates or even migrate, thereby causing an upheaval in their lives and that of their children. In the face of these conditions, HCDI and its implementing partners undertake certain livelihood intervention activities which are aimed at increasing the skills and productivity of such affected villagers. This is done with the aim to ensure that they become more self reliant and financially secure. The following are some of the livelihood intervention measures undertaken by HCDI and its implementing partners:
- Concerns in agriculture are properly addressed as reliance on agriculture as a source of income is high
- Families are brought together to take up one activity per family in order to battle the problems of soil erosion, dry or uneven land, lack of soil fertility, less useful methods of cultivation, crop ruining pests, and problem of water for irrigation.
- Farmers are trained in modern methods of agriculture that provide higher yields and help develop a multiple cropping pattern.
- Community organisations are established to help villagers to establish their right to avail of the support services for the agricultural sector as offered by the government.
- Self help, farmers’ groups are established who incorporate seed banks for hybrid crops that result in savings on expensive and harmful fertilisers.
- Farmers are trained in activities such as vermin composting and in turning farm waste into organic manure.
- Farmers are trained to use natural pesticides to battle the pests that can cause loss of crops.
- Villagers that are not involved in agriculture are provided with capacity building training which enables them to acquire more skills that can increase their productivity.
- Income generation activities are carried out which also include the inculcation of the habit of making savings and providing knowledge about the resources available with the government and other NGOs.
- In certain cases, families are offered loans to purchase equipment that can further their productivity in non-agricultural activities such as fishing.
- Women’s groups are established and the women are trained in fisheries as well as provided with knowledge about government schemes that help them renovate communal ponds and cultivate fish for sale.
- Families are provided with good buffaloes for milking and the working individuals are taught to sell directly to dairies, thereby avoiding exploitation by middlemen.
- Women have been provided with training, helping them establish rice banks where grain is stored and loaned on low interest rates, thereby avoiding exploitation from rice lenders who charge exorbitant amounts of interest.
- The capacity building of individuals within a family have led to the establishment of tailoring shops, petty provision shops, and additional activities such as carpentry, brick making, and pottery which has increased their productivity and economic standing.