Have the collapsing mud walls of the Kollihills gone for good?
KOLLIHILLS REVISIT PROJECT: ENHANCING CAPACITIES AND BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS AND DEVELOPMENT IN TRIBAL KOLLIHILLS, TAMIL NADU, INDIA
(A Participatory Action Research)
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
Dates of Visit:
November 09-11, 2018 (Kollihills, Area appraisal)
November 15-16, 2018 (Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala)
November 23-26, 2018 (Kollihills, appraisals in selected villages)
Reported by: T. Vasantha Kumaran
The Purpose of Visits:
The two visits made in November 2018 to the Kollihills were essentially:
a) to make an area appraisal of the hills so as to see whether the hamlets/villages other than the ones selected for study focus (Kulivalavu, Thegavoipatti and Paravaaru hamlets of Ariyur Nadu; Karumburoorpuram, Kulathukuzhi and Pallathuvalavu of Valappur Nadu; and Nariyankadu of Chittur Nadu) are more similar in their development problems and people’s perceptions through a rapid appraisal by visits to interior and border villages (November 09-11, 2018);
b) to make participatory appraisals (group discussions, socio-economic problem appraisals) in the selected villages; and...
c) to develop a short questionnaire for problems identification towards developing an Issues Framework, for analysis and development of a Community Action Plan (CAP) (November 23-26, 2018).
d) to give lectures to graduate students, research scholars and faculty members of the Colleges and Universities of Kerala at the University College, Thiruvan-anthapuram on the research (participatory appraisal) methods of the Revisit Projects (Theni Revisit Project 2016-18; and the present Kollihills Project 2018-20) to inform about the research (what we did and what we learned) concluded and the replicability of the research methods in a different context (tribal) with a different focus (generating alternatives for problem-solving through CAP, organizing youth for implementing the CAP and capacity building / skill development among the youth). In a sense, this lecture visit was a research dissemination effort, to set the tone for further activities in public forums.
First Visit to Kollihills (November 09-11, 2018)
This visit was essentially for a reconnaissance of the interior and boundary villages and meet with women and men of the tribe in these villages primarily to understand whether the socio-economic and development problems are similar or dissimilar to those of the selected villages. The Team visited nearly 25 hamlets in 5 Nadus of the Kollihills on this visit and met with nearly 60 people (36 women and 24 men) in a rapid appraisal. The Team has found that the socio-economic problems are more or less similar (lack or ease of access, scanty rainfall of the last few years, low productivity (land, water productivity) of land and labour, lack of employment for agricultural labour (MNREGA has provided employment for 100 days a year for a few thousands of men and women of agricultural labour pool but this has almost dried up in the last few months because of lack of funds from the Central Government), lack of or inadequate efforts at providing support price for agricultural produce (glut of paddy of the 1980s gave way to glut of tapioca of the 1990s which in turn gave way to glut of pepper), low and insufficient income (nearly 35 per cent of the people are with food insecure livelihoods) and youth with good years of education are without jobs. Infrastructure is very poor, especially healthcare and sanitation. To a certain extent, the development problems of the tribe are no different from those of the plains people.
The understanding of the socio-economic and development problems of the Kollihills from the area appraisal from the field visit has now been used in the design of a simple questionnaire for problem identification of the selected villages towards developing an Issues Framework. The survey using the questionnaire has just been completed (by December 22, 2018).
Visit to University College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
(November 15-16, 2018)
I (TV) was invited to the Seminar on Recent Trends in Geographical Research Methods organized by the University College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala to make presentations on the work I have been doing in the last few years. There were 80 participants, women and men, girls and boys, drawn from the colleges and universities in Kerala. Of course, nearly half the participants were from the University College: graduate students, research scholars and faculty members. I had 2 sessions of 90 minutes each to present my research work, particularly, the appraisal methods I have used in both the Theni Revisit Project and the current Kollihills Revisit Project.
I used both the Revisit Projects to illustrate how the appraisal methods (Rapid and Participatory appraisals and a battery of related methods) and Participatory Action Research (PAR) could be used to understand sustainable livelihoods and ecological restoration in Theni villages under desertification (five in all) and how a replication of the same methods with a addition of a few could be used in the current Kollihills Revisit to understand the socio-economic and livelihood problems of the tribal Malayalis living in a mountainous habitat and they may be made to realize that they could resolve their own problems through CAP with the help of their own boys and girls (youth of the hills) provided they (youth) are given training towards skill development / capacity building towards designing and implementing alternative problem solving approaches and strategies of their own, using possibly their traditional ecological knowledge.
The reception was good and the audience raised several questions as to how they could the methods in their own research, graduate and doctoral. I also sat with a student (Ms. Neenu Kumar) who had shown interest in the participatory appraisal methodology. I have now been corresponding with her on appreciative inquiry as a methodology for her research.
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!