Presently we work in two districts namely Chandel and Thoubal of Manipur in North East India.
We work in the state of Manipur. The state is one of the North Eastern States of India situated between latitude 23.80E and 25.68 N and longitude 93.03 E and 94.78 E. It has a geographical area of 22,327 sq. km with 27,21,756 populations according to the census of 2011 with a population density of 82 per sqkm and literacy rate of 59.89%. It has the average rainfall of 1467.5mm with the rainy season from May to October. Manipur became full fledged state on 21st January 1972 with a Legislative assembly of 60 seats. Of this, 40 seats are general, 19 seats are reserved for scheduled tribes and 1 seat for scheduled caste. There are two parliamentary seats in Manipur one inner and one outer.
The state has 9 districts namely Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal and Bishenpur in the valley areas while Chandel, Ukhrul, Churachandpur and Tamenglong are in the hill areas. There are 33 recognised tribes (there are still other unrecognized tribes) and Meitei and Bangalis are general communities while pangals are other backward class.
Manipur literally mean “Jeweled “ because of its beauty and splendors. Mrs.St. Clair Grimwood described it as “ a pretty place more beautiful than many show places of the world. Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru paid a fitting tribute by describing it as “Jewel of India”. The state is decorated by rich art & culture, handloom and handicrafts. It is the birth place of polo and a mini hub of games and sports. 67% of the geographical area of the state is hill covered forests with rich flora and fauna. It sustains a host of rare and endemic plant and animal life. There are about 500 varieties of orchids of which 472 have been identified. Siroi lily is the only terrestrial lily grown on the hill top of Siroi hill,Ukhrul. Apart from others Shangai is a rare and endangered dancing deer which is found on the floating mass vegetation on Loktak Lake.
The society is based in Chandel district. The district is one of the nine district of Manipur state. It is located between 23°45- 24°45N latitude and 93°45N – 94°30E Longitude. The district has a total geographical area of 3,313 sq. km. with a total population of 1,22,714. It is the second least populous district in the state after Tamenglong. The rural population has 87.81%. The scheduled tribes contributes 85.52% of the population.
Chandel Town is the administrative headquarters of the district. Moreh town is an important trade centre between India and Myanmar. Chakpikarong town is important where the river Chakpi runs in the middle of the river and a business centre. Chandel is named one of the country’s 250 most backward districts out of total of 640 districts. According to the 2011 census district has a population of 144,028 equal to the nation of Saint Lucia. This gives it a ranking of 602nd in India out of a total of 640. The district has a population density of 43 inhabitants per square km. It has Yangoupokpi-Lokchao Wild life sanctuary with an area of 185 squarekm.
The district has rich natural resources and is a part of one of the sixth Bio-diversity zones of the world. However, they are slowly degraded and degenerated by traditional shifting cultivation, commercial timber cutting, charcoal making, firewood etc. There is no livelihood opportunities as there are no companies and institutions. They have no food security and are socio-economically poor. Frustrated youths are indulged into drugs and many joined arm groups for security and in some cases for livelihood reasons. Young girls and women are forced to become commercial sex workers to provide for their families. Thus there are high cases of HIV infections.
It is a home of 19 different communities with different cultural practices and beliefs, different socio-political aspirations, interest and values. The main occupation of the people is agriculture on hill tops by shifting cultivation. Rice is the main crops, maize and other horticultural crops are secondary. Livestock and traditional handicrafts are also contributing to the economy of the people.
Socio Economy Condition
The farming families have no food security. They have sufficient food grains only for 3 or 4 months in a year. 50% of the farmers are farming on lease lands. Many families are not able to send their children to school and can not get health check up and treatment because of poverty. The resources are becoming limited as population are increasing. Most of them are unable to access bank facilities because poor people can not meet the requirements of the bank. They depend on money lenders at the rates ranging from 5 to 30 % in a month to meet their immediate needs. This add burden to poverty. The tribal people have no saving habit and financial discipline. The cultural system of extended family and dependency are existed where the bread earners are few and consumers are more
The practice of customary feast and cultural obligations are very common in the tribal and rural society. Expenditure of a feast cost between 2 to 5 lakhs. Even marriage cost about the same amount .It is very difficult for a poor family to manage the marriage. Many families are established on credit. There is dangerous trend of process of leasing out service and pension books and valuable properties as people are borrowing money from banks and money lenders in order to manage increasing demands of modern amenities, education and other social obligations.
The society therefore strives to enhance knowledge and skills of the communities and families on their rights, issues, opportunities and resources so that they are able to plan and develop their own natural resources and access social security schemes of the government for their sustainable livelihood. The process attempts to provide Alternative to traditional outdated shifting cultivation and let them access schemes and provisions.
The flood and Landslide
There was a heavy rain during 29th till 31 July 2015. The current of the river was strong and violent. Many houses and livestock were submerged were swept by flood. About 50000 hectares of agriculture lands and kitchen gardens were submerged and silted by sands. Due to siltation of sands many demarcation of lands were submerged. Many crops were damaged and many agricultural lands are not cultivable due to siltation.
In the hill there were huge landslide. The whole Joumol village was swept by landslide where 9 people were killed. Both parents of 9 children were killed in the slide. Many shifting fields were washed in the landslide and many families were displaced.
Communication were destroyed by flood and landslide. The hanging and bridges were wased away by flood. The roads and bridges were destroyed by landslide too. Some of the roads specially in the Khengjoy district will take 1 to 2 years to completely restored.
So in the next 2/3 years many families will not have food. Farmers in Manipur have no crop insurance. In such loss, farmers are not compensated. Such insurance must be ensured.
Thoubal District is one of the nine district of Manipur state in north eastern India. The district occupies of 519 square km. The population is 420, 517 according to 2012 census. Thoubal town is the district headquarters. It has three blocks, they are Thoubal, Lilong and kakching. It lies between 23°45- 24°45N latitude and 93°45- 94°45E longitudes. Its average elevation is about 790m above sea level.
Agriculture is the most important source of livelihood for the people of the district. The valley is fertile and the topography of the district provides good opportunity for irrigation, natural as well as artificial. Rice account for 90% of the total area under cultivation. The condition of the fertile soil and irrigation facilities, double cropping is widely practiced. In some areas triple cropping is practiced- first is paddy crop, second is paddy crop and third crop of mustard seeds, pulses etc. Other crops like sugarcane, oilseeds, maize, potatoes, pulses, chilies, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, bottle gourds, pumpkins, etc. are also cultivated. Pineapple is also grown on the hillocks of Thoubal. Poultry, piggery, goattery, cattle etc. are reared. Handicraft made of Tule (schoenoplectus aeutus) locally known as kauna is grown. Mat, stool, chair, mattress and other crafts are made out of kauna. Fishery is also widely practiced in Tentha, Leishangthen, wabagai, khangabok, kakching khunou and wangoo. Making of Earthen pots is another household industry.
The flood of July 2015 damaged crops of 50000 hectares. The fields have been submerged and silted with soil. The agricultural land have become uncultivable for the agriculture crops. Rehabilitation of crops is require. It will take some years. Many houses were damaged by blood and they need to be constructed and livelihood rehabilitated.