“Our homestead development programme has demonstrated that even small plots of land can enhance a family’s food security, improve nutrition and health, increase access to government extension services and programmes, augment existing income and result in better social capital,” says Sanjoy Patnaik, State Director of Rural Development Institute Odisha.
It takes a walk of 20 minutes through fields of bleached paddy stubs left from the last harvest to reach Kharibandh hamlet. Comprising 13 Sabar tribal households, it lies in the Khalikote block of Odisha’s Ganjam district. As we approach the village, something unusual catches the eye: A row of bramble-barricaded plots, green with fruiting vegetable plants, lying at a right angle to a long row of mud and thatched huts that are built three feet above the ground level, each having a common wall with its neighbour, typical of tribal settlements in Odisha.
In July 2010, all the families in Kharibandh received land titles to plots measuring 4,356 square feet, or one-tenth of an acre, of homestead land under ‘Vasundhara’, an Odisha government scheme for landless rural families that had been facilitated by RDI. The NGO works to ensure land rights for the rural poor in Odisha and elsewhere in India. This also meant that the local women got access to the land, because under Odisha’s reformed land laws, women are either sole or joint owners of the plots, depending on their marital status.
Source: OneWorld South Asia