Livelihoods of the rural poor in India has always been continuously at stake despite of all the efforts made by government even after 67 years of independence of the nation. This is especially true for northeastern states of the country which can be attributed to many factors like – remoteness from the mainland India, difficult terrain, diverse ethnic groups with their complex socio-political situations, lack of political will and sincerity among the government agencies etc. All these has been forcing the poor communities to depend more on the natural resources to earn their livelihoods and this has been the main cause of depletion of the forest resources threatening the rich biodiversity of the region.
The northeastern region of India has got a special place in the world map for its rich biodiversity, a home of many globally important and endangered species. Hence it is considered as biodiversity hotspot and comes under the Eastern Himalaya Eco-region complex. Mighty Brahmaputra has bifurcated the region into two distinct landscapes - northern and southern. The areas lies in the north of the river Brahmaputra, covering parts of the state Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, is comparatively more rich in terms of Biodiversity and also equally more disturbed by anthropogenic activities. But unfortunately, this area also created history in the conservation movement of the country by loosing about 65% of its pristine forests during the last 30 years period, mainly because of livelihood pressure, creating serious threats to the biodiversity, specially for the long ranging animals like Tiger and Elephant.
Dolphin Foundation had started working on the rural livelihood issue in the year 2000. A very systematic text book approach has been made to address the livelihoods difficulties of the natural resource dependent marginal communities starting with strategic socio-economic research and baseline studies. Till date the program has covered over 100 villages located at the peripheries of the some important protected areas of the region. The program was based on an innovative idea to empower the womenfolk of rural Assamese & Tribal communities and make them able to contribute to their family income and thereby to decrease their dependency on forest resources and obtain food security. The program had already strengthened about 2000 women on various traditional livelihoods like Handloom & Weaving, Sericulture & Apiculture. Over 300 Self Help Groups (SHGs) were formed by the program beneficiaries who had scaled up traditional livelihoods and successfully brought up to the commercially viable levels. The program had benefitted more than 2500 needy families so far in the region.
Dr. Sujit Bairagi, PhD
Founder & Chairman