Escaping Poverty in Rural Mewat

Gandhi, Valentine (2009). "Escaping Poverty in Rural Mewat" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

The Mewat region of Haryana falls under the semi-arid zones and were not benefited by the green revolution. Agriculture is the major livelihood option. It is inhabited by Meo – Muslims who are a unique ethnic group. Due to their cultural practices, they still use traditional farming techniques and have not ventured into non farm livelihoods such as migration even during drought years. This ‘closed’ culture has kept the region extremely poor. The Institute of Rural Research and Development has been implementing a Integrated Sustainable Village Development (ISVD) model for the last 8 years in 17 villages in the Mewat region. The components of the ISVD are interventions in the areas of Rural Health, Alternative Energy, Life Skills Education, Income Enhancement and Water Resource Management. The approach followed by ISVD is community empowerment, the programs are designed to enable people of Mewat to come out of their shells and participate in their development. This paper will present success stories of households moving out of poverty as well as case studies of households that could not move out of poverty. The findings are based on an ongoing study being conducted in 7 intervention villages. The study uses both qualitative and quantitative tools for measuring the impact of these programs in bringing people out of poverty. The analysis is still on, initial findings suggest that ‘education’ as well as ‘migration’ play a major role in helping the people of Mewat come out of their ‘closed’ nature and work towards improving their livelihoods.
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