Claiming rights – being heard
Tribal people in India depend on the forest for their way of life and livelihood. However for decades their rights to forest land and to essential services such as clean water, education and healthcare have been denied to them. Their poor status and lack of education mean that they struggle to challenge this situation.
Through our European Commission funded project in Chhattisgarh, which recently ended, we supported 7,195 people to put forward land claims under the Forest Rights Act. The Act, which was passed in 2006 thanks to lobbying efforts from our partners in Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, returns rights to the forest to its traditional users. Having secure land tenure means that tribal families can farm their land, maintain their traditions and build a more secure future.
We have also supported community based organisations representing 24, 840 community members in lobbying local government for access to essential services. Additionally, a new programme began in Jharkhand in April last year, setting up Self Help Groups where people come together to discuss problems, come up with solutions and learn about their rights so that they can access government services that benefit the whole village.
Muklu Tudu, one of the female members of a SHG in Jharkhand, India declares that the SHG has been a great help to her community.
- Because we are Santhals (a tribal group) the government officials didn’t use to listen to us. We couldn’t even open bank accounts. Before the government just used to dig the wells where it was cheapest and easiest for them to do so. Now we are strong as a group and they have to listen to us. Now we decide where wells are going to be built, she says.