EU and India's Poor Jan 02

What 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 and DFID (UK Govt. Department For International Development) and implemented by the Government of Uttaranchal, with the help of a British company (W.S. WS Atkins of Cambridge), has just been completed. The following is a summary of the highlights:-


Kalsa Floods 

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

In 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.

In 1998 the EUDFID sponsored Watershed Project adopted the village of Alchauna for direct assistance. The Project constructed soil conservation structures and established a grass nursery in Tamta’s fields. Tamta could now work as a labourer in his own field and earn income! He was even appointed as a watchman with a salary of Indian Rupees (Rs)1000 a month (£17).

With 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.



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 us!