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Workings of a Livelihood Project in India

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College Education: What Happens After That?

Asha’s husband passed away a few years ago because of an undiagnosed illness. Asha lives in a small house with her parents-in-law and three kids – two boys and a girl. All of them are of school-going age. However, Asha needs help with household chores while she goes out to work as a daily wager and provide whatever she can for her family. She receives a government pension and ration support, but that was not enough to lead a life of even basic needs.

This means that her 12-year-old daughter, Salony, has to drop out of school to take care of the chores while Asha goes out to find some work during the day. She is not a skilled worker, so she has to take up whatever task that is offered. On some days, she finds work but mostly, she comes back empty handed. This has made life difficult for all the members in her family. This also meant that her 14-year-old son might have to drop out of school and work as a construction worker to make money for the family.

Asha’s story is the story of innumerable people living in the less fortunate parts of the country. Due to a lack of livelihood opportunities in their communities, these people sometimes have to migrate to urban areas, or engage in menial work at extremely low compensation because they don’t have a better alternative. This is where the need for a well-functioning livelihood project arises.

With the help of such projects, these communities and people in need can be engaged in sustainable and respectful livelihoods so that they can make money and live a life of dignity.

Essence of a Livelihood Project

While it may be an easy assumption, the purpose of a livelihood project is not just to provide immediate financial support. Instead, they are designed to provide long-term support in building self-reliance and resilience. These projects focus on capacity building of the people, equipping them with skills in a way that does not only improve their economic situation but also prepares them for opportunities in the future.

At the core of sustainable development in India lies the concept of livelihood projects—initiatives meticulously crafted to enhance the living standards of individuals by equipping them with the necessary skills, resources and opportunities to earn a sustainable income. These projects are not mere stopgap measures; they are transformative processes that empower communities to break free from the cycle of poverty.

Operational Model

Livelihood projects and implemented after meticulous planning and follow a strong operational model like one followed at Smile Foundation:

  1. The projects are tailored as per the unique needs of a community and this is achieved through stakeholder engagement, where the planners collaborate directly with community members to understand their needs and aspirations.
  2. Following this, resource allocation is carried out, wherein financial, human and material resources are distributed according to the project’s requirements. This phase is critical as it sets the foundation for all subsequent activities.
  3. After that, many livelihood projects introduce training modules which is an integral part of the whole process. With the help of these modules, the planners and execution team provide practical knowledge and hands-on experience to the beneficiaries based on the market demand.
  4. Lastly, the most important aspect of these projects is outcome measurement because it is extremely essential to gauge the true impact of these projects and to ascertain whether they are achieving the goal of creating sustainable income opportunities for the beneficiaries while preparing them for long-term self-reliance.

Impact and Significant of Livelihood Projects

Livelihood projects is one of the biggest rural employment guarantee programmes in the world that has been running in India – the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA). In 2006-07, the programme engaged 21 million households and this number reached 55 million in 2010-11. Not just that, it has contributed significantly to rural income, with more than Rs 200000 crore spent as wages till 2014-15.

However, as mentioned previously, the impact of such projects is not limited to financial assistance. They also help in overall increase in income, employment opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures.

A study by the World Bank on a government-run rural livelihoods programme in India revealed significant increases in median income, highlighting the direct impact of such initiatives on economic well-being. These programmes are crucial in addressing the stark reality that over 296 million people in India still live in poverty, despite substantial poverty reduction efforts over the years.

These projects also help in providing dignity to individuals, especially those living in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. They provide employment opportunities to those typically ignored by the traditional job market, lead to empowerment of women by addressing the gender gap in the labour market and ensure self-respect for the marginalized population. 

Integration with Larger Solutions

The livelihood projects, across the world, are woven with the larger Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations. They particularly align with SDGs like eliminating poverty, creating gender equality and ensuring decent work and economic growth. The two things central to these projects are sustainability and scalability. Environmental considerations are integrated into project designs to ensure that economic gains do not come at the cost of ecological balance.

Community ownership is emphasised to ensure that projects are not only accepted but also cherished by those they serve, enhancing their longevity. Lastly, these projects are designed and redesigned as per the evolving economic conditions making them relevant and effective in the long run.

More than one Asha

Now, let’s look at Asha’s story from the perspective of what we have discussed so far about livelihood projects and their working mechanisms. If after school education, her children are inducted into a well-planned livelihood project, they are most likely to be educated and skilled as per the needs of the market and the unique requirements of the community they belong to.

Further, the children will be provided with necessary support to perform well in the work that they choose. It will not only open-up opportunities for them but also Asha, who can enrole in women empowerment programme like Swabhiman.

The project will also empower her and provide sustenance to her entire family, allowing her children to get education and have a chance at a better life that poverty often deprives one of. These projects are especially important today because of the economic hardship that a large section of our population is facing due to the widespread negative effects of covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

If we want to promote rural growth, increase consumption, and accelerate the economic growth of India, we must implement more than large scale livelihood project across the country with the help of both government and non-government organisations.

Smile Foundation’s Livelihood Programme STeP

Smile Foundation’s Smile Twin e-Learning Programme (STeP) is a pioneering initiative aimed at transforming the lives of underserved youth by equipping them with essential skills for the modern job market. STeP offers training in areas such as retail management, hospitality, customer relations, digital literacy, and more, bridging the gap between education and employability.

By focusing on skill development, the programme empowers young individuals to secure meaningful employment, thereby fostering economic independence and a better quality of life for their families. More than 10,000 young students have been trained under our livelihood initiative with more than 65% placement.

Support Our Mission

Help us continue to create brighter futures for underprivileged youth. Your donation can make a significant impact by providing these young individuals with the skills they need to succeed.

Donate here and become a part of this transformative journey.

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