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Health and Livelihood program

Location: G. Udayagiri Block, Kandhamal District, Odisha

SNEH began its peace-building intervention in the G. Udayagiri Block of Kandhamal district in Odisha, in the immediate aftermath of horrifying communal conflicts in 2008. Initiatives on conflict resolution and restoration of communal harmony and peace were undertaken in the beginning. Later, endemic issues like malnutrition, health, hygiene and sanitation, and livelihood strengthening activities were also included in the intervention.

SNEH initially focused on women and child healthcare in 10 villages of the Ratingia G.P of G. Udayagiri block (the Infant Mortality Rate in Kandhamal district is the highest in the state). Pregnant women and lactating mothers have been included as the main stakeholders of the programme, and both curative as well as preventive healthcare practices have been adopted to improve the health status of the target population. A convergent approach was followed to integrate the intervention with government programs like Mamata and Janani Surakshya Yojnas. Various awareness and sensitization programs have been undertaken through trainings, workshops, camps, rallies and events relating to nutrition, health, sanitation and mother and childcare.

The main source of livelihood of the people of the district is agriculture and the collection of Non-timber Forest Produce (NTFP). Not having a rail head, Kandhamal has poor connectivity with the other districts of Odisha. Only 12% of its total area is cultivable, while 71% comprises forests and the rest is barren land. The farmers are mostly marginal or landless share-croppers who adopt shifting cultivation on the hill slopes. After a harvest of paddy in October-end, the rural workforce migrates to the neighboring states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana in search of work.

SNEH has introduced modern farming practices through popularisation of SRI (System of Rice Intensification) and row transplantation of paddy. Farmers have been trained in ‘natural farming’ through the use of Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMO) prepared by using locally-sourced materials. This new technology has also contributed to improve the health and nutrition of the local people.

SNEH has also introduced new cash crops like maize, sunflower, pulses and mushroom in the area through crop diversification training programs. Capacity-building programs for women farmers have been organized to benefit the village women who have formed Self Help Groups (SHGs) linked to local banks. Vocational training programs like masonry, mobile-handset repair and IT and computer training have been organized to reinforce the livelihood activities of the youth of Kandhamal district.