AROH Foundation connecting the dots to improve rural livelihoods
As India heads towards a 5 trillion economy, it becomes imperative to include the rural India in the development process. India’s per capita GDP in rural regions has grown at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.2 per cent since 2000, says third annual edition of Accenture Research on Rural Market. Rural livelihoods are also significant in national economies in terms of the potential market for increased demand for consumer goods and services and their potential contribution to growing part of national economies generating employment, tax revenues, and so on. Growth in rural economy through enhancement of rural livelihoods is thus essential to reach the goal of 5 trillion.

However, we also face multiple challneges which include lack of awareness and mismatched symphony within various departments are real time hindrances that impede rural population to explore and generate sustainable livelihoods for themselves. Government is proactively working to overcome these obstacles and creating opportunities of generating income and infrastructural facilities for them. In this extensive process, along with government and administration, social organizations like AROH Foundation play a vital role in studying, designing, implementing and ensuring desired outcomes on the ground.

AROH Foundation, since its genesis in 2001 has been working as an envoy for the upliftment of marginalized communities through sustainable development initiatives. People’s participation, capacity building, technical innovation and service delivery are central to all rural livelihoods programmes run by AROH Foundation.

Various initiatives to improve rural livelihoods have been taken by the Foundation in the last two decades leading to significant positive impact on the lives of the about 5 lakh rural people in India. The initiatives taken towards skilling of youth and women and the job and self-employment opportunities provided to them have led to inclusive growth and development within the communities facing marginalization. There has been an enhanced awareness about government schemes leading to more benefits to the poor population. A greater engagement with women has served to promote gender parity as women are learning to manage and control the resources available to them.

AROH adopts a two pronged strategy to empower the rural youth and enable them into economically contributing resources. The first approach is through Placement-linked skill development, where skill training in market/employer driven trades under flagship projects of Government of India like Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushal Yojna (DDU GKY), (erstwhile referred as Aajeevika or SGSP (SP) is provided, especially beneficial for the youth that aims to be placed in urban set up. Youth from difficult, remote and poverty stuck belts are mobilised, brought to training facilities, are trained by expert trainers free of cost and are also supported with placement linkages.

AROH has so far skilled more than 25000 youth including 7500 girls from various states by far out of which around 20,000 are placed with top employers of the country and abroad and are living a self-resilient lives.

The other well-conceptualized approach adopted by AROH Foundation is of Skill Development leading to self-employment, where training is imparted in skills which could empower an individual to run an enterprise, either SHG model or an individual enterprise. This radical strategic approach to empower youth through imparting skills that has strong backward and forward linkages and has benefitted around 22000 women to get sustainable income, created 1500 SHGs, 520 rural enterprises, empowered 50,000 farmers 25000 youth pan India and eventually benefiting lakhs of family thus far.

In addition to this, with an overarching mission to create an equitable society where all human beings coexist with dignity, AROH’s uniqueness of having a flexible and innovative approach to address individual or community’s need for sustainable development, AROH, through its Holistic Rural Development Projects is now able to provide services to over 50,000 small and marginal farmers and rejuvenating 10,000 hectares of land with new, organic and better farming practices. Not just traditional business trainings, AROH has also set up measures to introduce new age enterprise trainings like mobile repair training, computer repair training, beauty parlor and digital & financial trainings, which shall help youth to match steps with the advancing world, be at a safe place in market economy and help in development of the villages as individual sustainable units.

AROH firmly believes that there is an imminent requirement to empower girls and women of rural India through quality education, skilling and reskilling as these are the dormant resources that need to be used for the ambitious target to make India the third largest economy of the world. And so, with a special focus of rural female population, initiatives like Capacity Building, Fostering Community Links, Skill Training in market driven trades, Reviving old trades and crafts, Organic & kitchen farming and Promotion of Small Businesses are some few ways through which AROH has helped the female population to build sustainable livelihood options for them.

Both the approaches are strategically designed by AROH to address demands, availability and socio – economic set up of the demography. Though the framework is designed after much brainstorming, AROH often deal with challenges of dropouts, low women participation, lack of expert trainer, backward & forward linkages, which are restrained with mass mobilization, utilization of local resources & assets for deeper penetration and sustainability. The present numbers are just initial investment results of the plan; still they imitate a large vision. And NGOs like AROH, which are now important catalysts of Indian Development saga, are called out to come forward, demonstrate and lead in making India, “The Skill Capital of the World”.