For many years until 2005 our work was concentrated around the Schumacher Institute for Appropriate Technology & Rural Development (SIAT), a training campus based outside Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, which reached only a few neighbouring villages. As we became more committed to extending our horizons across India, to expanding the impact of Schumacher’s ideas and of our mission to tackle the misery of rural poverty, we have increasingly channelled our support through carefully-selected grassroots Indian NGO partners.
In 2005 we adopted our charity title ‘Jeevika Trust’, turning our focus to south-west India, in particular to coastal areas affected by the devastating ‘Boxing Day tsunami’ of 2004. We found that taking our projects to the villages to address their challenges directly was more flexible and more effective than the training college. SIAT Lucknow was closed down, and our slogan ‘village livelihood in India‘ was born.
In the decade since 2005 India’s global profile – with its own nuclear, space and foreign aid programs, – has persuaded many people, not least the UK government and many private trusts & foundations, that India no longer needs financial aid to deal with its poverty. But the truth is that rural poverty remains endemic, out of sight and out of mind, with more people below the official poverty line (‘BPL’) in India’s 8 poorest states than in all of the developing states of sub-Saharan Africa, and more rural BPL people in India than the whole population of the USA.
Meanwhile Jeevika has continued to build its partnerships and village-based projects in Tamil Nadu and Odisha, and to analyse and address village needs under the broad headings of water & sanitation, health & nutrition, and women’s empowerment & income-generation.
Our new 3-year Operating Plan 2016-19 commits us to ambitious expansion in terms of new geographic presence, new partners and new technologies – all aiming to deepen and broaden our impact on the rural hardship and misery which successive Indian governments have failed to address.