Editorial Team

Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), one of India’s foremost agencies working on the improvement of rural livelihood for the last 40 years, has recently released the report on ‘Status of Adivasi Livelihoods 2021’. The report was released in the presence of Shri Arjun Munda, the Hon’ble Minister of Tribal Affairs, Government of India. The report highlights the current challenges and scarcity that Adivasis are living with, which adversely impacts their lives.

The report, which has been prepared with financial support from Ford Foundation, is aimed to be the first amongst a series of periodic reports on the status of Adivasi Livelihoods in Central India. The report covers the status of Adivasis in the states of Jharkhand and Odisha. In the forthcoming years, other states in Central India with significant Adivasi populations will also be included.

The data was collected through a household questionnaire survey in 4994 sampled households, a village survey across 254 villages, focused group discussions in 28 villages, and interviews of 40 Adivasi scholars and social workers.

During the release event, Shri. Munda said, “This report will be very crucial for policymakers and civil society organisations working closely with these communities for their betterment in the near future. Adivasis have been inhabiting the forest areas and living in close proximity to nature for generations. They have a lot of potential, but it is important to have faith in their abilities and link them with the market systems without compromising their innate relationship with nature, including forest.”

Key findings of the report have been around the cultural ethos of Adivasi which shapes their livelihoods, resource conditions under which Adivasi practice their livelihoods; external interventions affecting living and livelihood conditions; attributes of households such as literacy; landholding, etc.; livelihood activities practised; income, food security, and other livelihood outcomes.

The reach of “Development” amenities and facilities in terms of the existence of all-weather roads, telephones, educational institutions, health infrastructure, etc. have been, poorer in Adivasi villages compared to the non-Adivasi villages of the same geography. For instance, mobile connectivity was found available for around 70% of Adivasi villages, as compared to approximately 90% of the non-Adivasi villages in both states.

The average annual income for Adivasi households was estimated at INR 75,378 and INR 61,263 in Jharkhand and Odisha respectively. However, crop diversity continued to be quite rich. Even under rainfed conditions, Adivasi households reported growing crops from a choice of 20 crops. However, 25% of Adivasi and 19% Non-Adivasi people in Jharkhand were found severely food insecure. In Odisha, 12% of Adivasi households and 16% of Non-Adivasi households were severely food insecure.

Saroj Mahapatra, Executive Director, PRADAN said in the report, “We have been working in the states of Odisha and Jharkhand for the last 40 years. The objective of the study was to show a mirror to all the stakeholders who are engaging with Adivasis in terms of lives and livelihoods so that their engagement processes can be re-strategized on the basis of the major findings of this report”.

On the positive side, from 2021-22, an amount of INR 78,256.31 crore was allocated as STC funds (INR 7524.87 crore to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs alone), which showed an over 50 percent increase in the STC budget from the previous financial year, and over four-fold increase in 2014-15 allocation. In more recent years, the State Governments have launched specific programmes for the development of the Adivasi people. A little more than half of the respondents stated that not only were they satisfied with the Government schemes per se, but they felt that life had become better in the year preceding the survey. Considering that the year preceding the survey was the year of the pandemic, clearly, the Union and state governments seem to have reached out quite successfully to avoid distress amongst Adivasi people.

The key findings highlight that stakeholders need to re-strategize their development engagement, to facilitate Adivasi communities, and address the gaps and there needs to be a focus on education, helping them access basic rights, and skill development. The Adivasi youth aspire should have more skill development and livelihood options to improve their lives, as found in other communities.

Content Disclaimer

Related Articles