Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh is home to several tribal communities or locally known as ‘Adivasis'. Since time immemorial, Adivasis have been victims of abject poverty, with their livelihood depending solely on agriculture and allied activities. And yet, a lot of these communities had to bear the brunt of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, leaving them displaced and deprived of their means of livelihood, which continues to be mainly Agriculture even today. With one of the lowest literacy rates in the country, most children study till middle-school level here. In the district, 15-20 villages often have one common school.
Households in these villages have an average size of 5, sustaining on a meagre average monthly income of $95. In addition to farming, women of the community are engaged in tailoring, accessory making and petty shop businesses. The Adivasis sell a considerable amount of the local produce in ‘haats’ or local bazars including jowar, bajra, maize, sesame, groundnut, onions and potatoes as well as jewellery, hair accessories etc. The men most often migrate to nearby towns for better job opportunities- often an unhappy transition. Mobile networks are scarce in these villages and phones are mainly bought to keep in touch with family members who have migrated to other areas for work.
Being remotely located, water, electricity and transportation problems plague the inhabitants. However, even in the face of such issues, these Adivasis are unrelenting and seek to change the narrative of gloom which surrounds the community. The resolute women want to start or expand their business in the hope of a better future.