The seven states of North Eastern India are similar in terms of development challenges faced. EZE-EED has been supporting small NGOs to start various projects under AFPRO’s overall coordination since 1982. Package Programme VI, the latest running project, went through an assessment in 2000 to see the impact of such initiatives given the macro situation for the North Eastern states.
Technical support in the form of building irrigation and water supply structures, biogas plants, low-cost toilets have gone towards fulfilling much-needed infrastructure requirements of the villagers. Designs have been modified in certain cases to suit local needs, as in the Shramik Bandhu Biogas Plant, made of locally available bamboo instead of bricks, an expensive commodity in this hilly region.
Apart from providing assistance to villages through the 19 partners, the programme had a decided thrust on capacity building, both for the villagers as well as the partners. There are many instances of poor families becoming self-sufficient through timely assistance from the programme. A family in Manipur grows a local plant called Yenam (from the garlic family) that is very popular in the local market and gives returns amounting to as much as Rs. 750 per day. In another village – Hengbung, Hahat Kipgen, a Kuki woman, shares her views on the thrift and credit programme for women: “Men are jealous of us as we are the poineer moneylenders in the village. We feel very powerful to be lending out money”.
Interventions like supply of oil-engine pumps to lift irrigate paddy, pineapple and pepper cultivation has considerably increased household income.