When we see so many images of urban slums and “slum-dogs”, why do the villages need support?

While it is the city images of sprawling shacks and slums, children playing on rubbish-strewn railway lines and countless beggars lined up at traffic lights which shock visitors to India, 70% of Indians still live in the vast remote rural areas – where absolute poverty and hidden misery remain widespread.

The scale of rural poverty in India remains daunting. Most rural villagers are landless labourers; they are dependent on selling their labour during seasonal peaks where rewards are minimal and opportunities are few; the rest of the year they have no regular income.

Targeting the rural poor is not just about ‘poverty alleviation’ – it is about revitalising village communities and giving young people hope and reasons to stay in their villages.  Every year millions of young villagers, usually men, migrate to the cities to seek work, draining talent and energy from the villages, and increasing the stresses on the urban infrastructure.

Our Indian NGO Partner in Odisha, Jeevan Rekha Parishad, claimed: ‘Before the training, migration from these villages was a regular feature, but after the training, there has been 100% check on migration of the artisans trained, many of whom are also making their own houses as well as other buildings with local materials’.  Jeevika Trust trained 1,200 artisans, including women, in low-cost building skills.

This is why Jeevika Trust has taken ‘tackling the roots of poverty’ as our mission; only revitalising village communities can have an impact on rural livelihoods and urban drift, making a better India for all.


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