UN agency to provide $51 million to reduce poverty for vulnerable tribal groups in India

Rome, 22 March 2016 - The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of India signed a financial agreement recently that will aim to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods and food and nutrition security for over 62,000 rural households in the country’s central eastern region.

IFAD is providing a US $51.2 million loan towards the $130 million Odisha Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Programme. It will focus on reducing poverty and improving living conditions for some of the most vulnerable tribal groups in Odisha's heavily forested Eastern Ghats and Northern Plateau regions

The financing agreement was signed by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India and Surendra Kumar, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Scheduled Tribes & Scheduled Castes Development Department, Government of Odisha, India.

The programme adopts an integrated approach, supporting improved access to land, natural resources, agricultural technologies, financial services, markets, productive and social infrastructure, and essential social services. Given the extremely severe malnutrition situation in targeted villages, it incorporates “nutrition-sensitive” agricultural activities across all the programme components

“Vulnerable tribal groups are the most disadvantaged in Odisha State. They fare poorly on all development indicators such as food and nutrition security, literacy and health. Given their high dependence on an ecologically complex natural resource base, they are also highly vulnerable to changing weather patterns,” said Rasha Omar, IFAD Country Programme Manager for India.

Tribal populations living in the target area derive their livelihood from shifting cultivation, rainfed agriculture and from gathering non-timber forest products. Farming practices are basic, and mostly include growing rainfed rice and millet. Many tribal people are landless.

Since 1979, IFAD has invested a total of over $928 million in 27 programmes and projects in India, with a total cost of $2.6 billion including cofinancing, directly benefitting 4.4 million households. 

Press release No.15: IFAD/15/2016

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$17.6 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.