EU and India's Poor Jan 02
does the European Union do for India’s poor?
The Doon Valley is
located in the foothills of the Himalaya, Northern India. The “Doon
Valley Integrated Watershed Management Project”, financed by the EU
Daya Nand Tamta, a poor
scheduled caste farmer with a wife and two sons, lives in the village of
Alchauna nestling in a deep valley near the Kalsa River and Bhimtal. He
owned his small house, land, two buffaloes and two oxen
1993 the heavy rains flooded the Kalsa River. Tamta’s house was
destroyed amongst others; his animals drowned; the watermills were
destroyed and a large area of his land was eroded. His neighbours gave him
some land and helped construct a hut for shelter. He was forced to work as
a labourer in the fields of his neighbours.
1998 the EU
such opportunity to work and earn, Tamta was able to re-construct his
house, buy two oxen and a buffalo and cut Napier grass as fodder from the
nursery at no charge! Since then he has sown peas using mini kits provided
by the Project and constructed a bio-gas plant with his contribution of Rs 4500 (£75) to the Village Resource Management Association
(GAREMA) revolving fund.
ENERGY & ENTERPRISE FOR A POOR VILLAGE
For three months during
the SW Monsoon the Chifildi River floods and the village in the Doon
valley has no all weather access road for its residents. Without a road
and electricity, the village of Chifildi had no future.
The GAREMA revolving fund
allowed villagers to buy solar lighting kits where each family contributed
Rs.2000 (£34) and borrowed Rs.2850 (£48) from the fund. Each house has a
solar lantern allowing families to have extra time in the evenings to work
and enjoy family life. With better irrigation they are able to sell their
ginger and coriander crop earlier at a higher price allowing them to
finance a bulb-making unit producing torch bulbs for a company in Dehradun.
The above two are
examples of small projects the EU has undertaken in collaboration with
local Indian authorities. They illustrate how, with very little money and
appropriate management, the lifestyle of the poor in rural areas of India
can be vastly improved. The EU is committed to such development assistance
and it has funds to support projects to alleviate global poverty.
I am currently writing a
European Parliament Report on “Agricultural
policy, agrarian reform and rural economic development for self-reliance
in developing countries” I shall highlight the need for rural
economies to exploit their full potential to grow, harvest, store, process
and package their produce and use their craftsmanship so that it has not
only the highest value added but is saleable in foreign markets. In this
way, the poor in rural areas will achieve an economic surplus that can
finance better housing, education and health for their families. Such
assistance will transform the lives of the poor who continue to suffer
from hardship, disease and deprivation that is unimaginable for most of