The year was 2006. And Odisha showed the way. It became the first state to launch National Rural Livelihoods Mission. The aspiration was to eradicate poverty. The aim was intended to promote self-employment among the rural poor. The agenda was to make women independent and empowered with new skills. The roadmap was to through Self Help Groups.
Within that big picture, there was the granular idea of an autonomous body that would focus single-mindedly on nutrition. So was formed the Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM) under the Department of Panchayati Raj of the Odisha government two years ago. “We bring together the poor women into SHGs,” says Pushpashree Naik, district project manager, OLM. “We train them and equip them for the future.“ What sort of training? “We teach them how to make proper usage of their gardens by growing fruits and vegetable plants,” she adds.
A major thrust of OLM is uplifting the nutritional status of lactating mothers, would-be mothers, and adolescent girls who belong to poor families. OLM focuses on providing skills, training and financial assistance to them, to make sure that future generations do not face such problems. OLM also addresses the problems that are faced by children, such as malnutrition and stunting.
In alliance with the help of Azim Premji Philanthroipic Institute, OLM is coming up with several unique models, such as Nutri Garden and Backyard poultry. The women are provided with skills to develop their own gardens with nutritional plants and bio-fortified crops.
Odisha since past few years has achieved a certain economic growth rate better than other low performing states; however the health and nutrition-related indicators are alarming. Health and nutrition are having a direct effect on productivity and on livelihood and leads to poor financial deprivation. “Another six months time, we will cross one lakh households. Next year, we will be able to reach 2—2.5 lakhs, which is the targeted household in this project,” said Debashish Mahapatra, State Project Manager, OLM.
OLM received the Outlook Poshan Awards 2019, for outstanding contribution to the field of nutrition and women’s empowerment. Smruti Ranjan Pradhan, an IAS officer who is currently the SMD-cum-CEO of OLM, says. “We always make sure there is timely delivery of services to the poor.”