Every year on August 9th the UN officially recognises and celebrates Indigenous Peoples around the world. Indigenous communities are known for their long-standing culture and traditions and for making the world a diverse and vibrant place.
However, indigenous communities throughout the globe face challenges with Indigenous Peoples being nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme poverty compared to their non-indigenous counterparts.
Since 2017, we have been supporting carers and their families from indigenous tribal communities in the district of Koraput, Odisha, India, with our partners WORD, EKTA and SPREAD. In Koraput, 84% of the general population live below India’s official Poverty Line with that figure rising to as high as 97% in households where a carer lives.
The indigenous communities – “Adivasis” – tend to live in remote, forested areas, and are known to experience extreme discrimination. Education levels in the areas are low with the literacy rate standing at just 36%.
The health situation for the tribal communities where we work is very poor. There are few health centres and hospitals in Koraput, with the main District Government Hospital being more than 100kms from the furthest tribal village. For persons with mental illness and long-term disability, accessing treatment is extremely challenging which increases the burden of caring for their carers.
Our work since 2017 has focused on raising awareness on the topics of mental health, epilepsy, disability and carers across these remote regions. We have improved the mental and physical wellbeing of carers by facilitating access to medical treatment; promoted economic empowerment of carers by facilitating links to government benefits and income-generating opportunities, and have promoted recognition of carers and their rights through the formation of carers groups and committees.
Our work in Odisha with indigenous communities continues to progress and expand. If you would like to find out more about how we are supporting carers in Odisha, India you can take a look at our India projects page.