Development Cooperation Handbook/Stories/Millennium Village Project
Jharkhand is a state in North India. It is very rich in natural resources and very poor in terms of the quality of life of its people. The main business activities in Jharkhand are mining and big industrial plants. But most of the population lives in small villages, surviving with small scale self-sustained farming. Agriculture in Jharkhand could bring much more prosperity if people knew how to better utilize their resources.
In the villages of Jharkhand, when families need cash, the male members migrate in search of seasonal labour but the rest of the family stays on in the village to which remains attached their cultural and social identity. Traditional social cohesion at the village level has weakened in the past 2 decades because of migration and as a consequence of the modern individualist and competitive values that have also arrived here.
The Millennium Village project implemented by Welthungerhilfe in 26 Villages of the Deoghar district in Jharkhand is a typical example of international cooperation for rural development: it receives funds from the European Union; it was conceived and designed by a German NGO, and it is locally implemented by small Indian NGOs (Pravah and CWS). As most rural development projects, this initiative also aims at raising local capacities in agriculture, promoting basic education and improving infrastructures. The development workers implementing this project are making an effort to reconstruct the social fabric by involving the whole community in participated policy planning processes. In other words, establishing shared objectives among the local communities and identifying new ways of looking at the common welfare of the village. And in this new approach towards the determinants of wealth and development, women are taking a lead.
What is unique in this project is the effort to bring the policy perspectives of the Millennium Development Goals, or the MDGs, much closer to the village level. In fact, in order to restructure community ties and give people self confidence, the same commitment to remove extreme poverty, that generates cooperation at an international level, is also required at the village level.
"Our dreams have come true. We can now stay on our farms instead of searching for jobs in the city and we can eat the healthy food we grow ", says a farmer.
"If people are convinced and there is local ownership, development will take place and it will be sustainable", says the Programme Manager from Germany.
In the 26 villages covered by the Millennium project, agricultural output has increased, thanks to the know-how and new skills provided to local farmers and thanks to the work done by the entire community for building structures that harvest rain water. Hopefully, one day, the increased revenue from local agriculture will reduce emigration. Meanwhile, it is already giving better daily nutrition to women, children and the elderly. And better dignity to everyone.
What started out as an effort to bring the MDG policy to the marginalized populations could well bounce back to the high level policy centers, as a lesson for global decision makers, who need to learn to listen to one another and share a common purpose in our ever smaller global village.
On YouTube ⇒ Millenium Village Project - playlist