Completion evaluation

Introduction

The IFAD Completion Evaluation (CE) mission of the Orissa Tribal Development Project (OTDP) visited India from 9 to 21 November 1998.

The objectives of the evaluation were to review the overall implementation performance of the project, assess the socio-economic and environmental impact of the project, and draw out a series of lessons learned to assist IFAD in designing and implementing future projects and programmes in India and elsewhere.

A Grameen Bank beneficiary who has used a credit to open a weaving businessIn terms of evaluation methodology, some background work was conducted prior to the mission. Firstly, a project profile was prepared by reviewing OTDP supervision reports and related documents available in-house, highlighting major decisions taken during implementation and the outstanding issues which the CE mission would follow-up on. Secondly, a rapid rural appraisal (RRA) was commissioned by the Office of Evaluation and Studies (OE) in the month of October 1998 to collect primary data on project activities, the beneficiaries and a control group. Finally, in terms of data collection, the evaluation team was provided much secondary data by the counterparts, and qualitative information was gathered directly by the mission during its field visits conducted in the project area.

With regard to field work, the mission initially spent a few days in Delhi meeting several officials of the Government of India (GOI), World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), before proceeding to Orissa. In Bhubaneswar, the mission held discussions with concerned Government of Orissa (GOO) officials, as well as with other institutions related to the project. The mission then travelled to the project area, where extensive discussions were held with the tribal communities (beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries) and project authorities. A wrap-up meeting was held in Bhubaneswar on 21 November, chaired by the Secretary of the Harijan and Tribal Welfare Department (now renamed as the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Development Department), where the CE mission presented its initial findings and conclusions.

Project design and objectives

The OTDP was approved by IFAD’s Executive Board in December 1987. The loan became effective in May 1988 and closed in December 1997, following a 21-month extension. The total project cost was USD 24.4 million, out of which IFAD’s loan at a highly concessional rate was equal to USD 12.2 million. The project was co-financed by the WFP in the form of a grant of USD 1.4 million, and the balance was made up of domestic contributions. IFAD’s co-operating institution for the project was the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and the executing agency was the Harijan and Tribal Welfare Department of the GOO. At project closure, 84% of IFAD’s loan was disbursed, although by 8 June 1998 all remaining funds had also been disbursed.

Target group

The beneficiaries consisted of some 12 500 tribal families and another 4 000 local non-tribal households.

Objectives and components

The objective of the project was to achieve a sustainable economic uplift of the tribal population with a spread of benefits that would reach the weaker and most disadvantaged section of the community. The project was to achieve its objectives through an integrated programme of investments in agriculture production and natural resource development (for which 42% percent of the loan was reserved), human resource development (6.5%), rural infrastructure (10%), land survey and settlement (5.5%), and implementation management support (8 %). In addition to these components accounting for 72% of IFAD’s loan (base costs), a physical contingency of 2% and price contingency of 26% were included.

Evaluation

Project implementation performance

The OTDP played a useful role for tribal advancement in Kashipur. Good achievements were made in the infrastructure development component, and appraisal targets were even exceeded in some cases, e.g., 130 kms of rural roads were upgraded/constructed (as against the 120 kms envisaged), which now provide a vital lifeline for transport and communications in an area where access to remote villages/tribal areas previously was very treacherous. In addition to rural roads, the project saw the construction of ten bridges, five community centres and three health centres. However, the evaluation mission noted that on the infrastructure side, the post-project upkeep of the investment and its longer-term sustainability will be difficult. This is exacerbated partly due to the lack of a true participatory spirit in infrastructure development activities, and thus, the lack of ownership by the tribals, and partly due to the weak commitment on the part of the GOO in the maintenance of the structures. Another interesting aspect related to infrastructure development was the wage employment generated during the project - the tribals were provided both with food-for-work and a token salary in return for their labour in developing project-related infrastructure. However, once infrastructure activities were completed, employment opportunities were absent, thus leaving the tribals without the cash-in-hand they had received through OTDP. Having got used to cash-in-hand, the tribals have been forced to revert again to moneylenders, which has only aggravated their indebtedness problem.

Another area where the project was relatively successful was in land surveying and settlement activities. In fact, the project played an instrumental role in land surveying and distribution to tribal families. During the implementation period, in 236 villages a record of rights for dongar (hills) land was issued to 6 837 tribal beneficiaries (in the names of both husband and wife) covering a total area of 17 175 acres. This has added significantly to the social and economic securities of the tribals. However, the aspect that still requires further clarification is the conservation and management of common property resources, which are a significant source of livelihood for the tribals.

The project also made some achievements through the agriculture and natural resources development component. The activities undertaken had a reasonable impact not only in increasing the resource productivity of the area, but also in transforming the eco-system of the area and living conditions of the people. The project introduced the replacement of traditional and low-yield varieties of seeds by high-yielding hybrid varieties, and constructed 221 water harvesting structures for irrigation. Similarly, other achievements under this component include 3 111 hectares of land brought under vegetative cultivation, 5 595 hectares of land under green manuring, and the construction of 5 320 gully control structures. However, some areas which did not fair well include the construction of diversion dams, and vegetative bunding, which has been done only on 50% of the land targeted. Further, a major problem with this component was the lack of marketing possibilities for agroforestry products and weak technical backup for irrigation activities. Here, the sustainability of activities are also under threat. For instance, the various inputs (seeds, agricultural implements, etc.) provided free or at a highly subsidised cost during implementation are no longer available to the tribals, and no mechanism was instituted to ensure the timely and regular supply of inputs once the project ended.

The human resources development (HRD) component performed below expectations. Activities envisaged here were crucial for community capacity building, social mobilisation and to provide the required motivational foundation for the successful implementation, impact and sustainability of the project. To carry out the tasks under the HRD component, the project appointed an NGO, Agragamee, which had a good reputation at the grassroots level. In the initial period, the work of Agragamee steered the project on the right track by holding training sessions to build awareness and motivate people, as well as educating the tribals in some important environmental and social concerns. However, in the course of implementation, the relationship between Agragamee and the project management unit (PMU) became strained, which led ultimately to the withdrawal of the NGO from the project. This created a void in a critical area and the PMU tried in vain to implement some HRD activities. On this issue, the evaluation mission’s opinion is that, in addition to other reasons, what led to the NGO’s pullout was a "power-struggle" that had developed within the project between the NGO and the PMU. The former believed that the PMU was not taking into account sufficiently the tribals’ views and priorities in implementing project activities (i.e., a participatory approach was lacking), whereas the PMU saw the NGO as a spokesperson for the tribals not interested genuinely in their welfare, but was more concerned in promoting its own political agenda. The PMU further felt that Agragamee was training the tribals in a spirit not conducive to meeting project objectives. The withdrawal of a grassroots NGO from the project seriously curtailed the project’s performance and has put its sustainability in jeopardy.

Another area which caused impediments to implementation was project management. First and foremost was the frequent change in project managers. The OTDP had in all twelve project managers in an implementation period spanning nine years, which obviously prevented a minimum degree of continuity. Although two project managers performed very well, this was insufficient to build relationships with all concerned, and to gain the confidence of the target group. Secondly, project management followed a top-down and centralised approach, which did not put people at the forefront, thereby creating a serious shortcoming of the programme. Co-ordination amongst the various project partners (line departments, NGO, PMU, beneficiaries) caused added difficulties, and the M&E function was inadequate due to weak personnel capacity in this area, which contributed to a lack of reliable data on the various components. These problems caused inappropriate management decisions to be taken. Finally, OTDP auditing was weak and several concerns raised in audit reports were only addressed partially.

Project disbursement and supervision

During the initial years of implementation the pace of disbursement was very slow as compared to appraisal projections. This was due mainly to two reasons: (i) a constant devaluation of the SDR-Rupee exchange rate, which more than doubled during implementation as compared to the time of loan negotiations; and (ii) cumulative expenditures, in Rupee terms, were low due to delays in the civil works components, particularly the rural roads construction/rehabilitation. At the time of the project’s original closing date (31 March 1996), 51 percent of IFAD’s loan had been disbursed. However, upon the recommendation of UNOPS and the request of GOI, IFAD extended the project till end-1997 to enable full disbursement of its loan and an appropriate completion of the works. By project closing date, 81 percent of IFAD’s loan had been disbursed, and by loan closing date (8 June 1998), all IFAD funds has been expended.

UNOPS as the cooperating institution was responsible for: (i) supervising the project; and (ii) administering the loan. UNOPS mounted supervision missions twice a year, each year during implementation. In addition, a detailed Mid-term Review (MTR) was also organized in 1993. In terms of man-days spent for supervision, each mission spent an average of 8.3 days on the job, including field visits to the project. The quality of loan-related data, project output, and financial data presented in the supervision reports are adequate. The reports have also been quick to describe immediate issues that required rapid IFAD follow-up. The MTR of 1993 was also important as it identified areas where progress was lagging, and provided a series of recommendations to improve project implementation and impact, including the need for extending the project’s duration, adjusting project design and targets, and the need for loan funds reallocation to meet the project’s expenditures and increase disbursements. On the loan administration side, UNOPS has performed well. Requests for disbursements presented by GOI were examined in conformity with the Loan Agreement. Further, UNOPS adhered to international guidelines for procurement agreeable to the Fund.

However, there are some areas which would have required greater UNOPS follow-up. For instance, despite the fact that nearly all aide-memoires of supervision missions repeatedly expressed the need for improving the reporting, auditing and M&E functions of the project, such problems were not adequately taken-up in the supervision reports which followed, nor was IFAD’s attention sufficiently drawn to these matters. Finally, reviewing the composition of all supervision missions, barring the MTR, most of the times a financial analyst was the only expert along with the concerned UNOPS staff to participate in the job. The project would have benefited from the occasional participation in supervisions of selected technical experts, such as in agriculture, irrigation, training, M&E and project management.

Monitoring and evaluation

Overall, the project failed to implement an effective M&E system. This was due to a series of reasons, including (i) inadequate budgetary allocations for M&E; (ii) lengthy vacancies of key positions within the M&E unit; (iii) delays in provision of technical assistance for supporting M&E; (iv) the benchmark survey was not conducted; (v) monitoring formats and indicators were devoid of quality aspects, and the reporting mechanisms did not enable efficient and timely reporting; (vi) limited beneficiary participation in collecting and verifying data and results; and (vii) inadequate expertise and training of staff and beneficiaries in M&E concepts and processes.

Analysis, impact and sustainability

There are three specific design issues, which, in the opinion of the evaluation mission caused implementation difficulties. These include: (i) formulation from above: the OTDP project was conceived and imposed from above. State government officials prepared the plans for tribal development, in which some central government officials also took part. IFAD on its side provided a broad format for project development, but the process of formulation did not bring in innovative approaches and measures. The Fund appeared more concerned with satisfying the technical requirements to ensure the approval of the loan by its own governing body. Hence, the OTDP was designed in such a way that it did not break away from the path of tribal development already in operation in the proceeding three decades in India; (ii) implementation by bureaucracy: if the project was formulated from above reflecting the official thinking on tribal development, its implementation was largely done through the bureaucracy except for a brief two-year period when Agragamee was assigned the responsibility for HRD; and (iii) a techno-economic approach: the approach to tribal development embedded in the project had lacunae. It was essentially a techno-economic intervention. Its principal concerns were raising agricultural productivity and building rural infrastructure, especially roads. The component of land survey and settlement was a derivative element from the overall techno-economic perspective. The three other components of the project namely, HRD, and the development of commerce and applied research were not seen as springboards of development. They were allocated small proportions of the budget and were tagged to the two supposedly more important items namely, agriculture development and rural infrastructure.

From an agricultural point of view, the allocation of parcels of lands and the provision of land titles has reduced shifting cultivation practices in the areas targeted, having a positive impact on the agricultural and natural resource base of the block. However, as far as the fundamental aspect of land rights and security is concerned, the completion evaluation feels this still is an issue despite the good work done by the OTDP in land surveying and settlement. Further, with regard to land rights in tribal areas, there is an additional feature of prime concern which the project did not address satisfactorily, that is the practice of community ownership over forestlands.

The OTDP did recognise the village rights over dongar (hill) lands, but accelerated the process of privatisation on a household basis. In fact, much of the community owned land was individualised, and land titles were recorded jointly in the names of both spouses, which has enhanced the role and status of women and provided them with better social and economic security. While this step was welcomed, the package of privatisation of property upset the existing social security for the tribals. Now smallholders in distress could lease their land to moneylenders and others or be mobilised by the development process for eviction, settling for cash compensation for their piece of land. In fact, this has happened in several areas in Orissa as a result of the development of alumina projects funded by multi-nationals.

Hence, the community as a whole ceased to protect their dongar lands now that it has been split into pieces of privately owned land. Further, following the central legislation introduced in 1996, the Gram Sabha (Village Assemblies) in tribal areas have been entrusted to protect the community rights over land and forest. The OTDP preceded the Panchayati Raj enactment, and unfortunately this power is not being exercised by the Panchayats in many tribal areas. In Kashipur itself, the GOO has notified the transfer of tribal land to the alumina project companies without consulting the local Panchayats.

The participation of tribals in the HRD programmes was low. The guidelines suggested for the involvement of a reputed NGO to implement the HRD programme, including educational and skill development programmes, as well as training to build awareness on issues such as environmental concerns, social conditions, trading practices, and legal and land rights. However, participation suffered, especially following the withdrawal of Agragamee from the project, and the target groups were no longer active partners in the OTDP. Their concerns and priorities were not reflected adequately in the annual work programme and budget of the project. One of the reasons attributed to the lack of participation is that the HRD wing of the PMU did not have the capacity, nor desire to build a true spirit of partnership with the targeted population.

The quality of training imparted under the project was questionable. The contents of the training programmes did not cover many important areas, such as environment concerns, social reforms, exploitation in trading, money lending and women’s rights. The extreme importance of integrating education and health programmes in the context of agriculture and rural development activities was also not addressed by the OTDP.

The OTDP recognised the need to build strong people’s institutions in the villages which could (after project closure) take over management of the infrastructure and assets created during implementation. It was also acknowledged that the overall people’s participation would be a crucial ingredient for the success and sustainability of project initiatives and activities. The project thus promoted: (i) Water User’s Society (WUS) to foster participatory irrigation management and maintenance of the irrigation assets with the collection of water user charges from the members; (ii) Village Committees for different project activities, with the objective of playing an active role in programming, planning and implementation of the activities; (iii) Women’s Committees and Self Help Groups; and (iv) non-formal Education Centres.

However, for such type of grassroots capacity and institutional building, the withdrawal of Agragamee marked a turning point, and although the HRD wing of the PMU opened up 278 non-formal education centres, set up 42 grain banks and has provided training to 250 teachers and 76 Village Committee leaders, the local population was not able to build and develop capacities for sustainability. For instance, with respect to WUSs, the members were not willing or convinced regarding the payment of user charges for maintenance of the irrigation assets. Only three women’s SHGs were formed, and the members are not sufficiently motivated to contribute regularly to the groups, and instead were mostly interested in wage earning from project-related activities. Finally, as for the non-formal education centres, most emphasis was paid on adult education with little provision for primary education and involvement of women. In general, these institutions were formed under government instructions, with absence of any motivational and participatory management strategies. It was unfortunate to observe that in the absence of such motivation, almost all WHSs and other civil works are also in need of attention.

OTDP introduced changes in the cropping pattern and land use as a result of inputs and technology provided under the agricultural and natural resource development component. With the introduction of new technology, there had been a perceptible change in cropping patterns and better utilisation of land. Farmers have started cultivating cash crops like sugar cane, potato, onion and garlic, which have resulted in better returns to the farmers and more nutritional value to the village consumers. The cultivation has been extended to almost the entire year, while earlier, the land remained idle for several months of the year. Important contributions to the agricultural programme were made specifically through the provision of irrigation and the seed flushing programme.

The issue of sustainability is of major importance, and the upkeep of most project-initiated activities is of concern. For instance, with regard to the physical infrastructure developed under the project, the WHSs, irrigation systems and rural roads were found to be deteriorating at the time of the evaluation mission. This is because the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure, by and large, was expected to be done in a participatory manner and gradually these would be handed over to the tribal communities. However, the planned mechanisms could not be implemented because the project did not build the requisite grounds and atmosphere for participation of the people in project activities. Hence, there is an apparent absence of ownership by the tribal population in these structures, and also due to limited resources and weak commitment on the part of the GOO, the maintenance and sustainability of project investments are in jeopardy. Likewise, the future of the input supply activity is also under strain. In this respect, during implementation seeds of improved variety, agricultural implements and other inputs were provided free or at a highly subsidised cost. These are no longer available to the tribals, and no mechanism was instituted to ensure the timely and regular supply of inputs once the project ended. The same applies to the soil conservation and agro-forestry sub-components, as the tribals were provided through the OTDP planting material and other equipment for these activities, which are no longer available. Finally, the sustainability of the OTDP is also threatened due to the limited capacity of the PMU staff, following the closure of the project and a lack of counterpart funds and commitment on part of GOO to oversee the continuation of the project and to build on the initial investments and efforts.

Wage-employment impacted the lives of the tribals since it provided a means to supplement their income during implementation. In terms of proportion, OTDP figures illustrate that of the total additional employment created, seventy-five percent of the employment was provided to male labourers. What was distressing is that a high proportion (twenty-five percent of the total sample in the project area) of households engaged their children in such activities. Female labourers were mainly employed on their own land and in the collection of non-wood forest produce, whereas males tended to work as casual wage-employment outside. The evaluation mission is not in a position to make a quantitative analysis of whether employment activities created additional family income, although while discussing many beneficiaries reported that incomes increased, partly due to wage supplements, but also due to food supplements provided through the WFP grant, which released amounts of family income previously allocated for the purchase of food. As a result, tribals were able to divert income for acquisition of assets for improving efficiency in work, mobility, entertainment or comfort, besides meeting satisfactorily their consumption expenditure. Another interesting feature OTDP figures reveal is that during the project period, due to wage employment creation, the contribution of farming to total income decreased by ten percent or so, whereas that of agriculture and non-agricultural wages increased by fifteen percent or so. In sum, the project created opportunities for employment, but these ceased after project closure. At that time, the tribals were left without the remuneration they had received through OTDP. Having got used to cash-in-hand, the tribals have been forced to revert to moneylenders, which has once again aggravated their indebtedness problem.

Lessons learned

Human resources development

The project did not recognise the prime importance and contribution of the HRD component to the entire project process. This component, which represented the "software side" of development activities such as building participation, training and education, was a crucial input for the ultimate success and impact of the project. Unfortunately, project designers only allocated around six percent of total project costs to this component. Right from design the project had over-bearing faith in technology, and attached great importance to establishing the hardware (physical infrastructure, agriculture development, land allocation, etc.) for the development process. What the OTDP experience has highlighted is the need to "prepare" the development process by concrete efforts firstly in social development and social mobilisation, prior to launching the full blown productive investment activities. In this way the target group would be sensitised to the project and be in a position to benefit from, and contribute more meaningfully to, project activities.

Knowledge of the Rural People

The OTDP points to the crucial importance to the development process of the knowledge of the tribal people, be it with regard to agricultural practices, land and water management, agro and food-processing, medicinal matters, environmental issues or about prevailing culture and ethos. Their know-how has been developed and refined over centuries, which has been transmitted through generations of people. Their knowledge and experiences need to be tapped systematically and blended accordingly with modern practices suitable to the context and environment in which the tribal people live and operate. In such a way, development activities and interventions at large will be more ‘implementable’ and acceptable. Moreover, in this way the chances of impact and sustainability are also higher and there will be ownership in the activities promoted, given that they build upon the tribal peoples know-how and preferences.

Monitoring and evaluation

M&E is a crucial tool for management and implementation purposes, and emphasis should be laid right from inception. For this purpose, a special budget line should be specified in project cost tables, one each for evaluation and monitoring, instead of lumping it under overall project management costs and training and technical assistance should be inbuilt upfront to push start the M&E system. Selection of indicators for the monitoring system should be done at latest by project start-up in a consultative process, involving the various stakeholders including the beneficiaries. These should be simple and easily quantifiable to enable data collection at periodic intervals during implementation. If necessary, the indicators should be adjusted according to the evolving priorities of the project, thus highlighting the dynamic nature of monitoring systems. These systems should not be viewed as data gathering instruments per se, but as tools that play a more important role in informing project management of the status of implementation and exposing the various issues that need adjustments. Evaluation could be outsourced to the private sector, research centres or universities to enable an impartial self-evaluation process. Finally, the contribution of beneficiaries should be sought in the M&E process.

Participatory approach to design and implementation

The degree of beneficiary participation at all stages in OTDP was limited and this was a contributing factor to the mixed results obtained by the project. Tribal people were seldom involved in developing the annual programme of work and budget, and the project lacked consultation with the targeted population. This created an atmosphere of discontent and lack of confidence towards the implementing authorities. Community and people’s participation is of utmost importance, not only during implementation for the prioritisation of activities to undertake, but should commence right from the design stages to assess the perceptions and requirements of the tribal people. As this process will involve the beneficiaries thoroughly, they are more likely to take responsibility and ownership for their own development process, and thus be committed to the activities being implemented. Further, in order to ensure that project executing authorities and other stakeholders are fully sensitised and in agreement with fostering a participatory approach, intense efforts may be required to create awareness amongst the concerned people through systematic training in the needs and benefits of participatory development.

Project management

In those projects where special units are created for implementation, like in the OTDP, the role of the Project Manager (PM) is important. PMs are an essential element in ensuring a successful intervention, and the effectiveness of implementation is enhanced when managers and other staff appointments are based on merit and undertaken in a transparent manner. Additionally, continuity for a period of 3-5 years in project management is necessary to build relationships and co-operation among all project stakeholders. PMs should be given appropriate incentives to perform and remain committed to the job. Nevertheless, project designers should also explore alternative and innovative approaches to project management, for example, implementation could be conducted through the private sector or through other institutes or bodies which are not under the command of government structures. The involvement of carefully selected NGOs in project management may also be considered.

Role of the Co-operating institution

Project supervision should increasingly become a problem-solving exercise rather than a mere periodical inspection. It should be considered as an integral part of the project implementation process. In this regard, experience sharing with project execution personnel and local experts, as well as training through the organisation of workshops/seminars during or at the end of supervision missions should be pursued. The importance of MTR/MTE cannot be overstated as a means of making necessary adjustments to project design and implementation and addressing the requirements arising from policy changes. In multi-dimension projects like the OTDP, it is important to include specialists on supervision missions with expertise in subject matters related to the project, as and when appropriate. Co-operating Institutions should take advantage of local expertise, not only to save costs, but to ensure adequate input of domestic experience. This will facilitate the understanding of the local context, and improve communication with project beneficiaries and local officers. Finally, the need to lay emphasis on following-up on the recommendations made during previous supervision missions is of utmost importance to project success.

Role of NGOs

The selection of NGOs must be made with utmost care, taking into account the NGO’s reputation and capability, but also their relationship with all the stakeholders. It is imperative to clearly define in advance the objectives, role and responsibility of the NGO and each partner in the process. To this end, it may even be advisable to identify during project design the NGO to involve, and to make them participate in the design process. In this way, it will be relatively easier to have a common understanding right from the start about what is expected of each partner. At start-up, special team building sessions could be organised to inject a spirit of co-operation and effective participation. This would also be an opportunity for all concerned to appreciate their role and boundaries, as well as to recognise those of the other stakeholders. The project management and the governments on their part should avoid adopting paternalistic and top-down attitudes, and consider the NGO as an equal partner establishing a relationship based on consultation and dialogue.

Socio-cultural and political sensitivity

Tribal development project and programme need to be designed with due attention to the socio-cultural and political context, if they are to realise their intended objectives. In addition to techno-economic considerations, attention should also be given to the caste, class and ethnic origins of the targeted people. This will equip designers with better information of the context in which to develop the intervention and introduce safeguards to ensure that the existing local power structures do not turn out to be the main beneficiaries of tribal development projects and programmes.

Sustainability

Without the adequate participation in the design, decision-making and implementation of the beneficiaries and their community organisations, the post-project sustainability can be of major concern. Together with the issue of participation, OTDP also revealed the centrality of education, training and empowerment of beneficiaries in meeting the objective of sustainability. This process leads to the much-needed sense of responsibility and ownership of the beneficiaries towards the project, and consequently willingness on their part to maintain project activities. The role of the government is also of importance, not only in terms of their commitment, but also by providing for appropriate institutional support and enabling policy framework. Equally important is the issue of financial sustainability. Governments need to allocate funds to sustain selected project activities after the closing date, and to this end they should introduce a budget line in their core programme budget for the purpose. However, to minimise reliance on counterpart funds for post-project activities, projects should be designed as far as possible in a way to ensure that most of the project activities could be financed without continuous allocation of public resources.

Tribal land rights

The benefits of legally secure land tenure are evident from the OTDP experience. The project illustrated how when land titles are registered in the names of both spouses, the social and economic status of women is enhanced, providing them more confidence and independence, as well as opportunities for income-generation through activities such as vegetable gardening and small livestock raising. Provision of land rights on hills has promoted sounder environmental management practices and helped restore agro-ecological balance, as shifting cultivation practices have been largely halted by those tribals receiving land titles. However, such land reform programmes need to be accompanied by opportunities for employment and marketing, access to credit, and institutional support. Further, tribal peoples rights to common property resources, in particular to water and forests, from which they derive part of their income and nutrition through the processing, consumption and sale of non-wood forest products, should be safeguarded by government authorities. Where private-sector involvement in forests is promoted for economic purposes, the implications on tribal people should be examined and appropriate mechanisms should be introduced to prevent the marginalisation of the tribals.

 

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