Centre for Youth and Social Development

Focus: Environment, Livelihoods, Rural Development, Social Exclusion, Disaster Management

ENDING extreme poverty and hunger in the remotest tribal pockets of Odisha may sound like a singular mission, but CYSD learnt early on it was a ‘mission impossible’ if they didn’t use every trick in the book.

So they employed energetic youth, nurtured a network of non-profits already in the field, built a backbone of self-help community groups, and ensured that government schemes – such as the current mid-day meal at schools and guaranteed minimum employment – are effectively deployed.

Imagine a landless tribal family of a husband, wife and three kids living in a tiny village. The couple work as agricultural labourers, barely earning Rs 100 a day between them while the oldest child, a girl, stays home to do chores and look after her siblings.

This is an example of the precarious existence of India’s rural poor – with no work or food guarantee, or a future for their children. And, what CYSD found themselves up against when they formed in 1982, with Odisha being home to the highest number of tribal households in India.

But their multi-pronged approach – particularly their livelihood strategy that focuses on household food and nutrition security and in expanding income opportunities – is working. In 2015, CYSD reached out to more than 24,000 families in 700 villages.

One such family is that of daily wage earner Madhu Munda from Keonjhar. Too poor to send his older daughters to school, his son Arjun too dropped out after primary level so he could be put to work at a hotel 140km away.

Soon the hotel owner stopped paying Arjun’s wages and Madhu and his wife turned to CYSD to rescue their little boy – which they did, with the help of the local police and child protection officer.

Arjun has now returned to his studies, supported by CYSD. His parents too have been directed towards government poverty alleviation schemes and other income generation activities. Plus, Arjun’s case has spread awareness, with five other child workers from the same village having since been rescued and sent back to school.

Working to improve lives in cyclone-prone Odisha has also meant that CYSD have widened their remit to include disaster management. So when Phailin struck in 2013 their response was swift and effective and they managed to rehabilitate 3,000 families devastated by the cyclone.

CYSD’s intervention in rural Odisha has already impacted a million lives. But latest figures show 13million still live in extreme poverty. Help CYSD make their mission possible.

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Enhancing Forest-based Livelihoods

TO enhance the income of forest-dependent tribal communities in Odisha, CYSD are engaged in a number of programmes such as increasing the density of trees in forests. But, with the declining demand for timber-based products, CYSD are also promoting alternative livelihood options such as breeding goats and ducks, blacksmithing and vegetable vending. So far 4,000 households from 250 villages in the Koraput district have benefited – with their incomes having gone up by 30 per cent.

Sambhab – Disaster Resilience

WATER, sanitation and hygiene management, which save lives in both routine and emergency situations, is the main focus of this project. Covering 50 disaster-prone villages in Odisha’s Puri district, one of its important goals is to reduce risks, such as transmission of diseases during natural calamities and to help people return to their normal daily activities after it. CYSD also aim to make these vulnerable communities understand the impact of and adapt to the hazards of climate change.

Child-centred Development

MAKING environments safe for children, both at home and in the community, is a priority for CYSD. To this end, they have been working to improve knowledge, attitude and practice of children and parents on child abuse, female foeticide, child marriage and violence against women and girls. The initiative, spread over 95 villages in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts, also fosters community-based child protection systems and encourages lobbies for better legislation and policies.

About Centre for Youth and Social Development

The kit given by CYSD protected us from rain, cold and upheld our dignity. Otherwise we’d have been on the roadside or in an emergency shelter. The lantern protected us from snakebites, the tarpaulin covered the roof and we slept on the ground sheet.

Kunti Behera, beneficiary affected by Phailin, Ganjam district

As part of CYSD’s capacity building programme, I visited health institutions in Karanjia and Baripada and interacted with doctors and other health professionals. This motivated me to sharpen my skills as a community development worker.

Binapani Naik, leader of Uchatangar village, Keonjhar district

  • Jagadananda Mentor & Founder
  • Prafulla Kumar Sahoo Chairman
  • Jayadev Dakua Associate Director