Have the collapsing mud walls of the Kollihills gone for good?
ENHANCING CAPACITIES AND BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS AND DEVELOPMENT IN TRIBAL KOLLIHILLS, TAMIL NADU, INDIA
Principal Investigator (India): T. Vasantha Kumaran PhD
Principal Investigator (Canada): Bala Hyma PhD
Field Research Manager: N. Annammadevi PhD
Local Support: Mr. S. Prakasam M.A.,M.Ed., Ariyur Nadu
AN EXCERPT FROM THE REVISIT PROPOSAL:
A University Grants Commission Research Project 2001-03 on ‘Sustainable Biodiversity and Food Security through Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Tribal Kollihills of Tamil Nadu, India’ forms the backdrop for the present Kollihills Revisit Project, focusing on ‘Enhancing Capacities and Building Partnerships for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development’ in the Hills, using PAR-PRA approaches in two of the 14 Nadus of the Kollihills, namely, Ariyur Nadu and Valappur Nadu (Nadu is a Village Republic).
With a gender-aware approach, the Revisit is to promote sustainable livelihoods and development through the implementation of a participatory Community Action Plan (CAP) designed to reduce poverty in the two select Nadus; expand livelihood opportunities and enhance social welfare at the local/regional level while maintaining or enhancing the environmental / ecological support system. CAP is a participatory and catalytic process designed to reach and mobilize society’s marginalized groups, particularly the poor, women, youth and children. The CAP process focuses on empowerment by assisting existing local groups (SHGs, tribal activist groups) to establish effective organizational structures and to enhance their management skills, as well as ensuring their full participation in the development process. CAP, besides several development thrusts, facilitates the provision of effective extension services to support the implementation of locally-identified strategies and initiatives.
The major objectives of the 2-year Revisit Project are:
1. To enhance the capabilities of women and men, girls and boys of two select Nadu communities – Ariyur Nadu and Valappur Nadu – through providing them with leadership skills, organizational management and community development skills.
2. To motivate, develop and promote a Partnership Initiative among communities, local governments and NGOs/CBOs to enhance sustainable livelihoods and development opportunities and community resource management towards poverty reduction.
3. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the partnerships and the capacities through successfully developing a Community Action Plan of the people, by the people and for the people of the two villages.
The Revisit Project concerns about 12-15 thousand tribal people in 50 plus hamlets in the two Nadus of our concern. The tribes, known as ‘malayalis’ (= hill people) live in traditional settlements collectively called ‘nadus’. There are 14 nadus in the Kollihills (a population of about 50,000 now). As the tribes are scattered in several hundred hamlets and on the hill slopes and in intermontane basins with often different terrains, only two village panchayats are chosen. In the tribal Kollihills, the poor constitute between 20 per cent and 33 per cent. In terms of food security, the hills are doing well and the difference in the tribal areas is higher primarily because food, or substitutes of food, is available from the forests of the hills.
The CAP is expected to be formulated for the two villages but much will need to be done before it could be implemented. It will have to be further shaped and refined even while building capacities in women and girls and men and boys of the Nadus. There will be development extension on specific aspects of the CAP and the economic activities through a process of information, education and communication. A cadre of people who could administer and manage the CAP should also be created. Tribal farmers’ associations, women self-help groups, and youth groups of the Nadus could be the ones the Revisit Project would focus on for such a cadre of the CAP implementers.
In the long term, the issues and skills addressed through community development activities of the CAP would allow community members to move towards self-mobilized levels of participation on ecosystem management as well as other social, economic and cultural issues.
The tribal poor lack basic entitlements, including access to land and water resources, access to credit and savings, and access to information, training and technologies. This situation is exacerbated by the low levels of literacy, a lack of representation of marginalized groups among the tribe, limited organizational skills and a poor knowledge of available program opportunities.
Keep an eye out on our website and social media for the next instalment of the Kollihills blog; we'll be publishing photos, videos and more updates!
Welcome to our new blog! We've teamed up with our colleague in India, Thangavelu Vasantha Kumaran, to publish updates on his humanitarian work in southern India. Updates will first be published in our newsletter, followed by more detailed updates here on our blog, for those who want to learn a little bit more!