BHUBANESWAR: A host of social security and livelihood programmes notwithstanding, a recent study revealed almost one in every five households in Thuamul Rampur block of Kalahandi district had a migrant worker and members of one in every ten households had to skip at least one regular meal for more than one day in a week because there was no food or money.
Thuamul Rampur has the highest incidence of poverty among the 13 blocks of Kalahandi, one of the most backward regions of the country, contributing significantly to the labour migration from the State.
The study by Gram Vikas in partnership with the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) found 41 per cent of households in the block had at least one person who had worked for 30 days or more outside the district. One in every three households had at least one person who had migrated for work in the last ten years.
"A quarter of all current migrants were seasonal migrant workers. Most people who migrated had moved out of the State, particularly to Kerala and Telangana and worked either in construction or in the hotel industry, earning an average monthly wage of Rs 12000. They would have preferred to stay back if there were local opportunities to earn a minimum monthly income of Rs 10000," the survey report said.
With 27 per cent, the migration rate was highest among the OBC households, while about 16 per cent of ST households had members working outside the district. About seven per cent of the SC households had the highest seasonal migration and one-fourth of all the households had seasonal migrants.
The study explored the distribution of households by characteristics like religion, caste, household size, education, type of ration card, employment under NREGS and household income. Almost 70 per cent of the households with a history of migration reported that they would not have been able to come out of poverty without the income from migration. Migration has helped the households to repay debts, improve savings, invest in the education of children and diversify income sources.
The findings revealed that the households in the backward block continued to be on the margins of the society without much advancement in human development.
Slightly less than a quarter of the households had a smartphone and nine per cent had televisions and only two per cent had a radio, indicating limited exposure to mass media.
More than half of the households currently do not practice agriculture. The majority engaged in agriculture had only one crop cycle per year. The average reported monthly household income was Rs 3000 and less than half of the households had a functional toilet with the majority of toilets lacking water supply.
About 50 per cent households had membership in SHGs and a quarter of the families were enrolled in the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana.
"The highest educational attainment was up to the level of high school, indicating that the barriers to education continue to be a major hindrance in local development. Children of over half of the households had to travel five km or more for free high school education. The undulating terrain with minimal public transport facilities further cripples the access to education," found the study conducted between December 23, 2019 and January 15, 2020.