The Rural Housing and Livelihood Programme, in association with DESWOS Germany
In April 2009 CTRD began a 3 year "Rural Housing and Livelihood Programme". This project is one of CTRD's largest and is certainly it's most multi-faceted. In this project 3 tribal villages a year are selected on the basis of their desire and need to develop and they undergo a comprehensive program of change. During this program, no stone is left unturned and communities are equipped with new houses, a community hall and sanitation units. At the same time the wider area also benefits from the development of a local community as focused CTRD healthcare camps are set up, Income Generation Programmes (IGPs) are initiated and all children are given school materials. By March 2012, 9 villages had benefited from the "Rural housing and livelihood" programme and over 150 houses had been built.
Constructing the village
At the beginning of each project, beneficiaries are invited to a workshop where they are encouraged to share their thoughts on which areas of the community they would most like to focus on improving. Often the most pressing need of tribal communities is safe and reliable housing. Traditional tribal huts are made of mud walls with bamboo roofs, thatched with dried paddy grass. Huts require rebuilding both before and after the monsoon, a difficult and time-consuming task due to the relative scarcity of some of the building materials required. The tribal communities are also aware of the health and safety risks possessed by their traditional housing. Mud walls are prone to cracking, allowing dangerous snakes and insects to get inside the family home. If left unrepaired, these cracks can cause huts to collapse. Due to the presence of wild elephants, huts are also in danger of being trampled. Open fires inside the house mean thatched roofs are at risk of catching fire. Therefore, tribal communities are often desperate to improve their living conditions.
Tribal communities are very involved in the construction of the new village. Each family is asked to make 2000 mud bricks using a machine provided by CTRD. Creating these mud bricks provides the communities with a sense of ownership of the house, as well as being environmentally friendly and a superior building material; mud bricks are able to keep houses warm in the monsoon and cool in the summer! Training in building, construction, masonry, carpentry and village maintenance takes place during the program. This means that the tribal community is self-sufficient once CTRD withdraws from the village, as they have an extensive skill set from brick-making to cement-laying, which they can use to overcome the vast majority of village issues. These skills also provide many tribal people, particularly men and boys, with a livelihood.
Income generation programmes (IGPs) are set-up to provide families with further sources of income, encouraging social and economic participation and enhancing personal fulfilment and self-worth. These schemes are particularly popular with women and girls and thus far 168 families have been identified for IGP training. IGP schemes focus on traditional tribal interest and occupations, principally agriculture and livestock farming. IGPs teach tribal communities about good animal husbandry, poultry keeping, farming and the cultivation, preparation and marketing of herbal medicines. These programmes have been very successful, improving the nutritional content of the tribal diet, as well as providing goods to sell or trade in local markets.
Helping the wider area
Though existing CTRD initiatives have meant that many tribal communities have started accessing medical treatment in local government run centres and hospitals, many isolated villages still require healthcare delivered by CTRD. CTRD provides a variety of healthcare services, running general health screening camps and conducting regular community visits. CTRD also works to promote anti- and post-natal care, as well as ongoing mother and child care. Sickle cell anaemia, a non-contagious disease passed the genetic code of parents to children, is common in specific tribal communities. Although this disease is incurable, there are medicines available to help those living with the condition. CTRD works to identify cases of sickle cell anaemia and provide sufferers with the right care and support. CTRD also ensures that there is a good supply of first aid medicines in isolated areas, and that locals are trained in basic emergency first aid.
Through the Rural Housing and Livelihood Programme CTRD has been able to provide 9 villages with over 150 houses, helping to ensure their comfort and safety. Most importantly the programme not only helps tribal communities - it gives them the ability to help themselves. Socio-economic conditions are greatly improved in both villages and the wider area thanks to IGPs, ensuring that rural and tribal families can make a meaningful and sustainable contribution to the development of their own communities. Healthcare and education in these regions has also improved vastly, with CTRD providing support to 61 tribal communities. This powerful and mutually reinforcing programme is beginning to help break the cycle of poverty in poor tribal and rural villages and is one of CTRD's great success stories!