April 28, 2017

Interventions to stop child marriages raise hopes in Odisha

The practice of underage marriage is acute in the tribal-dominated southern and southwestern parts of Odisha, but interventions on the ground are planting the seeds of change among adolescent girls and their parents

The pensive look on the face of three-year-old Devati Durua of Chanchraguda village in Koraput district could very well change to distress if she is married before she comes of age at 18. That remains a distinct possibility in the underdeveloped area where indigenous people are known to widely practice child marriage.

April 09, 2017

Conserving rainwater in subsurface soil to fight water scarcity

Indigenous communities in India's Rayagada district mitigate the challenges of water scarcity by storing rainwater in subsurface soil. A cheap and concrete solution to a global problem.  

With a population of over 1.2 billion people, India’s per capita water availability has decreased substantially over the years. From 5,200 cubic metres (m3) in 1951 to 1,588 m3 in 2010 according to the Water Resources Information System (WRIS). This may shrink further to 1,401 m3 and 1,191 mby 2025 and 2050 respectively. To note is that the average volume isn’t available everywhere because of temporal and spatial variations in rainfall.

March 24, 2017

After defeating Posco, farmers turn to reclaim betel leaf economy

The formal closure of Posco’s steel plant project in Odisha is seen as a victory of agrarian economy over unwanted industrialization and the betel leaf farmers of Jagatsinghpur are rejoicing, although those who lost their land face new challenges.

In a unique case of victory of the agrarian economy over mineral-based industrial economy, betel leaf farming in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha proved to be more dependable and promising than the proposed $12 billion integrated steel plant project planned by one of the world’s largest steel producer POSCO.

March 15, 2017

Ending child marriage by making young girls the agents of change

Though child marriage continues to remain a serious global concern, interventions to contrast it carried out by governments and global organisations are starting to show results. Raising hope to end the practice, the Gumma block in India’s Gajapati district, populated by tribal populations, has taken centre stage by becoming child marriage free thanks to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) programme involving thousands of girls in adolescent clubs to learn and share their views on the topic. 

February 10, 2017

Abandoned Niyamgiri villages tell sad tale of wholesale migration

Five abandoned villages in the Niyamgiri hills that have now been reclaimed by the forest indicate a complete failure of governance and lack of the state’s reach and action among the Dongria Kondh indigenous people

After walking nearly 7 km from the road head, you would reach a place on the banks of Panimunda stream in Muniguda administrative block of Odisha’s Rayagada district, where Ankurbali village once used to exist. On the slopes of lower Niyamgiri hills, the place is now a part of the forest with no remnants visible today. Till a decade ago, people of the Dongria Kondh tribe inhabited the village.
Although revenue records and voter lists still mention Ankurbali, the village no longer exists. At least four other neighbouring villages of Umbesi, Uchukumba, Haimandi and Dahli under the Shibapadar gram panchayat (village council) of Muniguda block do not exist physically.