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$2.5m from ADB for Assam erosion-hit - Project to aid livelihood, develop skills

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  • Published 4.08.12

Guwahati, Aug. 3: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide $2.5 million to the erosion-affected families in Assam to support their livelihood and harness their skills.

“The project, Livelihood Improvement for River Erosion Victims in Assam, will be finally approved by the ADB board in early September and commence procurement shortly thereafter,” Shanny Campbell, social development specialist, environment, natural resources and agriculture division of the bank, told The Telegraph.

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) will supply the funds to the bank.

She said the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction project is linked to the $150 million ADB-financed Assam Integrated Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Investment Programme.

The scheme will target landless people or people who have lost a majority of their assets because of erosion and flooding.

“This project seeks to include these vulnerable sections of the population in the development process and improve their livelihood skills and ability to save through need-based interventions for sustainable economic and social livelihood improvement,” she said.

“The people in the project areas — Palasbari, Kaziranga and Dibrugarh — have lost land and lives to floods and river bank erosion, which is an annual phenomenon now. In many cases, people from entire villages have shifted and relocated from their original places as their land has eroded,” she said.

“Embankments are used by riverbank erosion and flood victims as the raised platform provides for a better shelter. Entire families and villages in need of land have built their houses onembankments. Many of these families, especially in Dibrugarh, are living on embankment rendering them even more vulnerable. Although the embankments are built on government land, Dispur has taken a soft stance towards such illegal settlements,” the livelihood project report said.

R.S. Prasad, the chief executive officer of Assam’s Flood and River Erosion Management Agency, which is executing the flood investment programme, said the project would help the erosion-affected families develop their skills. “This scheme is an additional project but will supplement the flood investment programme.”

The project will have four components. Under the first component, training will be provided to women at Palasbari for improving the profitability of eri silk spinning and weaving by training them, providing technical knowhow, establishing backward and forward linkages and organising spinners and weavers into a producer organisation for higher sustainability.

In the second component, the focus will be on improving vegetable production and marketing skills of 1,000 families of which 800 are in Kaziranga and 200 in Palasbari.

Technical assistance would be provided for an appropriate package of practices, improved seed, and improving access to the market by aggregating, collecting and transporting produce of the members.

Under the skill training and placement of youth at Dibrugarh, focus will be on providing skill training and placement for youth living on the river embankments.

In addition to skills training, apprenticeship with local employers and workshops, on the job training and counselling have been incorporated.