Aaranyak in collaboration with Jaintia Eastern College, Khliehriat, organised a day long consultation workshop on “Socio-economics of forest fringe villages and their alternative sustainable livelihoods in Meghalaya”, recently.
The objective of the workshop was to share the basic observations and findings of the village level study conducted by Aaranyak in the forest fringe villages of Narpuh landscape along with understanding the stakeholder’s opinion about required alternative livelihood initiatives and skilling in the respective landscape, understanding the different scopes for convergences with existing government schemes of other line departments in the area of proposed alternative livelihood and skilling, and to frame an approach for the way forward.
A total of 10 participants from 5 villages were present in the workshop and 15 students and faculty members from Jaintia Eastern College attended as well.
The workshop started with the felicitation of invited guests, Smti N. Laloo, MFS, Divisional Forest Officer, Jaintia Hills (Wildlife) Division, Jowai; Mr. Shanbor law, Range officer; Ms. Meda Challam, representing the Block Development Office and the Principal of Jaintia Eastern College, Dr. Phervision Nongtdu. The inaugural session started with a welcome speech by Dr. Jayanta Kr Sarma followed by respective guests present in the workshop.
In the first technical session, Smti N. Laloo, shared her views on various restrictions and opportunities/schemes for the indigenous local community present in and around the Narpuh Wildlife Sanctuary. Some of the schemes Smti N. Laloo mentioned for the local community included, installation of solar street lights, Distribution of bee boxes, horticulture plantations, mushroom cultivation training, compensation schemes and livestock immunizations. She also encouraged the local community to come forward with their own ideas to develop sustainable livelihood and conservation of the area.
Ms. Meda Challam, who represents from the Block Development Office talks about a number of schemes which comes from the block development office; activities related to the management of Natural resource, horticulture and tree plantations, and human resources which guaranteed work for the villagers particularly in construction works and plantations.
Dr. Phervison Nongtdu, Principal of Jaintia Eastern College talked about the importance of forest and the ecological services that it provides. He also addressed about the dependency of people on forest particularly people in villages who have a direct dependency on forest as a source of food, shelter and livelihood and the decrease of forested area in the state and how this may have an impact particularly to the people in the villages where their main source of livelihood comes from the forest. He stressed the need for an intervention where other alternative sources of livelihood can be introduced to these villages to reduce the dependency and impact of people on forest.
In the second technical session, Mr. Arbanki Sungoh shared the basic observations and findings from the village level study. During the presentation Dr. Jayanta Kr Sarma provided his input and briefly described the findings from the village study.
In the third technical session, the participants were divided into three small groups to discuss future perspectives and scope for sustainable livelihood in their villages which was followed by group presentations separately by each group to assess and understand their willingness and interest for livelihood interventions in the future.
One of the participants shared his view that the workshop was very fruitful for them. They were not aware that many things such as value addition, product processing etc. discussed in the workshop were viable earlier. He expressed that such interventions may help improve livelihood and economic activities and also he hopes that they receive the necessary training, interventions and support at the earliest.
During the workshop, all the technical sessions were moderated by Dr. Jayanta Kr Sarma, Senior Program Associate of Aaranyak. Mr. Sarlongjon Teron, Mr. Arbanki, Ms Shalomi and Dr. Jayanta Kr Roy of Aaranyak team provided their support and conducted the workshop successfully.
The Consultation workshop was a part of the ongoing Socio-economic study at selected fringe villages of Nongkhyllem WLS, Narpuh WLS and Balpakram NP supported by the PCCF (Wildlife), Government of Meghalaya.