March Magazine

Ways out of migrant work

With the Sustainable Tribal Livelihoods project, SWISSAID is improving life in small villages in India. Girjabai Baria and her family are benefiting from this: thanks to new farming methods and sources of income, their lives have taken a positive turn.


Country, region:
India, State of Chhattisgarh
October 2019 - December 2024
4,000 households in 83 villages
Total project budget:
535'360 CHF


The project aims to strengthen the adaptive capacity of the rural population to climate change and thus improve their livelihoods. To this end, agro-ecological methods are being promoted and seed banks established. Other priorities include income diversification and improvement, women’s empowerment as leaders, and sustainable natural resource management.

This project is co-financed by the SDC program contribution and is part of the Alliance Sufosec program.

The air is dry, the chickens scratch in the dusty ground. The small, remote village of Furfhundhi in the eastern state of Chattisgarh has not received any rain for quite some time. Still, 37-year-old Girjabai Baria, dressed in the purple sari of the local women’s group, looks contentedly at her vegetable garden. She doesn’t have to worry about not being able to feed her family, because a wide variety of vegetables grow here.

It was not always like this. In the past, Girjabai Baria and her husband were migrant workers. Every year they had to leave Furfhundhi with their three children for several months. In the dry season, there was simply too little work, money and food in their village. Climate change further exacerbated the situation with unpredictable weather extremes. While the parents did hard work in a brickyard during this time, the children attended school. Due to the many changes of school, however, they had to be careful not to lose touch.

Finally settled: Girjabai Baria can feed herself and her family all year round in the small village of Furfhundhi.

Strengthen self-confidence

Then SWISSAID launched the Sustainable Tribal Livelihoods project in Girjabai’s home village. And with that, the family’s life changed abruptly. At last, they can stay in their home all year round. Girjabai is happy that she can now participate more in social life. She is now a member of the village development committee and is actively involved in the women’s self-help group supported by the project. Their work is no longer limited to the household: the group’s creative activities allow the women to find new sources of income. For example, they make brooms and mats from bamboo or collect fruit in the forest, the seeds of which they process and sell as food or medicine. The additional income is very valuable for the family.

The war and hunger

With your help, we can promote local agricultural production chains and strengthen local seed systems to make farmers less dependent on purchased seeds and external factors such as wars and climate. Your donation makes sense!

New cultivation methods

My mother-in-law used to get angry with me when I spent time with the other women in the village. But since she realized that I earn money with the activities of the women’s group, she accepts it, Girjabai says happily.

The project has also taught Girjabai new farming methods. Today, she can harvest vegetables almost all year round. This secures the family’s food supply even in times of climate change. Girjabai is convinced that she will now not have to leave her home even in the event of a drought. She sees her future in Furfhundhi. She dreams of opening a grocery store in her home. Thanks to the project, she now has all the tools in hand to realize this dream independently.