Western Orissa comprises 10 western districts of Orissa State, namely Sundargad, Debgad, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bargad, Sonepur, Boaud, Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi. Theregion is positioned between 19º 37’- 23º N latitude and 82º 28’- 85º 22’ E longitudes. The district covers a geographical area above 56,700 Sq. Km and supports a population of about 10,715,710 (2011 census). Ironically theregion in Orissa state has a distinction of combining enviable natural abundant ness with crippling educational, economic backwardness. Health indicators are poor, there is a shortage of safe drinking water and drought persists regularly. Inequitable social structures, distorted land distribution, indebtedness, and other inequities contribute to the widespread poverty, less access over resources by poor and marginalized people. This region is well known for its drought, hunger and poverty. Poverty has become an integral part of its root.The people of the region has become one of the most underprivileged and backward region in the world. 50% of the populations are unable to afford full meal a day.
Looking at the degree of development/ backwardness of 10 Western Orissa districts, it can be said that out of 87 blocks only 5 blocks are developed, 25 are developing, another 25 are backward and 32 blocks are very backward, whereas in coastal districts 70 blocks are developed, 50 blocks are very backward out of total 227 blocks .(Courtesy-Koshal Diary)
People & Occupation
Western Orissa comprises 24.34% of the total population of Orissa out of which 24.41% are males and 24.26% are females. Tribal population comprises 40% of western Orissa’s total population. 23.38% of Scheduled caste and 33.9% of Scheduled Tribe population ofOrissa are residing in this region. This area has 29.75% of the total economically backward people, 25.8% of the cultivators, 27.52% of the agricultural labourers, 32.18% of the house-hold industrial worker, 25.36% of the workers, 30.54% of the marginal workers and 22.87% of the non-workers of Orissa state. The rural tribal people of the area have their own peculiar belief- systems and are remarkable for their simplicity, integrity and friendliness.
Factors responsible for backwardness
Agriculture and collection of minor forest produce are the main sources of livelihood of the people 46% of the population of the project area are landless and casual labourers while rest are small and marginal farmers. The average land holding is about 2 acre. The land suffers from low productivity due to the traditional methods of cultivation and lack of resources. The land needs reclamation measures since it is covered with boulders and bushes. The low yield causes poverty and it leads to indebtedness and exploitation.
Drought at a regular interval has affected the livelihoods of the poor and restricted the process of development of the districts. The result has been chronic hunger, breakdown of traditional coping mechanisms and distress migration. Seasonal migration has become an important livelihood strategy for many poor communities in western Orissa region. Thousands of people migrate to the other states for working as wage laborers; bonded labour at brick kilns. It has led to high indebtedness among the poor resulting in large-scale resource alienation through mortgage and sale.
The poorest of the poor migrating for more than six months to the brick kilns of Andhra Pradesh or to other parts of the country in search of livelihood. In this situation the child withdraws from the school process and accompanies their parents, which naturally hinder their education and health. At destination level there is no availability of education facilities for the children as per there need. After six month when the family comes back, the child faces extremely difficult to cope with the school curriculum. The consequences of this situation brings end in schooling. Among the migrants, around 80% belongs to Schedule Caste communities in the region.
The health facilities available in the area are insufficient. In time of serious diseases or any other emergency the only means of transport is bi-cycle or by walk of nearby PHC which is about 20 kms away from the area.
Education is the most neglected part as evident from their low literacy status. The children who are considered as economic assets are hardly sent to schools thanks to the factors of non availability of teachers and study materials, long distance, ill timing of schools, negative attitude of both teachers and parents. The female literacy rates among the tribal & Dalit are quite dismal & disappointing. Illiteracy is a major handicap for occupational mobility among the Dalit and other backward caste.
In Western Orissa children’s vulnerability and exposure to violation of their protection rights are multiple in nature .The manifestation of these violation are various ranging from child labour , child trafficking and many other forms of violation and abuse .Migration and trafficking of children continues to be a serious problem in this region. Acute poverty compels community to migrate.
The people of this area though eligible for greater assistance in terms of development programme by the government still remain exploited and deprived of their basic human rights like food, cloths, medicine and education. Though the central and state governments have launched various schemes and programmes for poverty amelioration, but it has not in any way changed or affected the conditions of the people. These villages still wear an emaciated look with poverty writ large on the faces of these peoples. It is all due to their lack of awareness and information on various development schemes and programmes. Insufficient awareness and lack of organized efforts appear to be the root causes of the major problems of socio-economic backwardness of these people.
Keeping all this in consideration YCDA is working directly and with partners in the following areas.
Out reach through Partners
Bolangir,Boudh and Subarnapur
Youth Council for Development Alternatives (YCDA)
At/Po - Baunsuni, Tikirapada Road
Dist-Boudh, Odisha-76215, India
Tel-06841 228377 / 228455 / 7750018377
Website : www.ycdaindia.org