Sustainable Livelihoods for Tribal Communities

Sustainable livelihoods for tribal communities

Twenty-five year old Gobardhan Munda’s income has doubled, he now has a bank account and a Kisan Credit Card. He grew up juggling several jobs to support his seven member family. Barely able to eke out a living from his small plot of land, he would work as daily wage earner, loading construction material on trucks that passed through the city. He earned INR 100 a day. Two years ago, he volunteered to participate in a pilot to test the impact of drip irrigation on productivity of small holdings. On a small plot of land that received just about enough water supply to cultivate one season of potato, he now grows tomatoes, cauliflower and cucumber. Today he says, “Our village sends truckloads of vegetables to nearby markets, this has never happened before because of the acute water shortage”.


  • A drip irrigation prototype developed in Jharkhand is providing small and marginal farmers with sustainable income and livelihoods
  • The prototype has helped farmers adopt innovative technology best suited to vegetable cultivation on small and marginal landholdings
  • The technology has also helped empower women farmers to extend vegetable cropping to fallow land
  • The prototype, demonstrated in five districts of Jharkhand, has now been upscaled across the state by the Rural Development Department
  • The prototype was developed in Jharkhand as part of a livelihood generation project supported by UNDP
  • The project, in partnership with the government of Jharkhand, aims to strengthen the state government’s capacity to implement livelihood programmes in the state

The prototype has helped many farmers in the Angara Block of the east Indian state of Jharkhand adopt an innovative technology best suited to vegetable cultivation on small and marginal landholdings. For Gobardhan Munda, who never finished school, it has opened other doors. He now regularly operates a savings account with a bank in his village. The bank has sanctioned him a kisan or farmers credit card which enables him to access adequate, reasonably priced and timely credit. He now puts away nearly INR 18,000 annually in insurance and long term savings schemes.

Recognizing the success of the drip irrigation prototype for individual small and marginal land holdings demonstrated in five districts with more than 300 farmers, has now been upscaled by the Rural Development Department across the state. Jharkhand is one of India’s most resource rich states. However, inequality remains widespread, and a significant proportion of the population is unable to benefit from government schemes or programmes to reduce poverty. The state’s population is predominantly tribal with high levels of poverty. More than 50 percent of the scheduled tribe population and scheduled caste population in rural areas live in poverty. This is significantly higher than the national average. In tribal dominated areas such as Angara where Gobardhan lives, more than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line and over 50 percent subsist as marginal farmers with land holdings of between 0.25 – 1 acre.

Since 2009, UNDP has partnered with the state government of Jharkhand to strengthen governments’ capacity to effectively deliver livelihoods schemes and programmes. This resulted in the creation of the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) to spearhead sustainable livelihoods for the rural poor, in particular, for persistently excluded communities. JSLPS is now the nodal agency for the implementation of the national flagship programme - National Rural Livelihoods Missions in Jharkhand.

For women, drip irrigation prototype has meant that many of them see agriculture as a viable livelihood option. Shiela Devi, farmer from Sikiddri volunteered to be a part of the pilot. Family income has doubled and Shiela plans to cultivate multiple crops in 2012, in an area where acute water shortage had meant that only half the family’s land could be cultivated. The technology has helped empower women farmers to extend vegetable cropping to fallow land and consider scaling up further.

As India tackles the challenge of “jobless growth”, and strives to secure livelihoods for the poor, the prototypes in Jharkhand demonstrate the possibilities of enabling tribal communities to generate sustainable livelihoods and self-employment for their families.

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP India 
Go to UNDP Global