Founded on 19 August 1999, Samrakshan started working for equitable and sustainable livelihoods for remote rural communities subsisting in or around biodiversity-rich areas of India. Samrakshan’s mission is to promote socially just policies and practices of conservation and livelihood through field initiatives in the areas of sustainable livelihood, research and education. Currently, Samrakshan continues to work in Madhya Pradesh with the Sahariya Adivasi community.
We began working in village Agraa in district Sheopur of Madhya Pradesh in the year 1999. This was a time of great change and tumult in this remote and severely poor area. About 5000 people from 24 villages had been uprooted from the nearby Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary for a national conservation project, to be resettled around village Agraa. Initially, our team of young activists from Delhi set up camp in a small hut in Agraa’s Adivasi basti, to help the displaced people to access the government’s rehabilitation package and to bring their problems to the notice of government agencies. The displaced people faced a severe crisis of livelihood in their new villages due to poor quality of land and loss of their traditional forest based livelihood. The focus of our work shifted over time to rebuilding people’s livelihoods through interventions in education, agriculture development, micro-credit and health. We continue to work in two core areas – education and research on dryland livelihoods.
Samrakshan works for sustainable and equitable livelihoods. At present, Samrakshan works in district Sheopur in the semi-arid dryland ecosystem of the Kuno and Kwari river basins. The field office is located in Village Agara, a few kilometres from the Kuno wildlife sanctuary. This field initiative of Samrakshan was established in 1999, when 24 villages from the Kuno sanctuary were displaced and resettled in the vicinity of Agara. Since then, Samrakshan has worked continuously in the region on sustainable rural livelihoods and biodiversity conservation through research and action programmes.
Over the years, Samrakshan has developed as a field research station for various scholars working on issues of dryland livelihoods, displacement, conservation-livelihood linkages and rain-fed agriculture. Till mid-2012, two PhD theses, five MA dissertations, three field researches and five MA internship reports have been generated by students from prestigious universities in India and abroad in collaboration with Samrakshan. The field team at Samrakshan is well-versed in various field based data collection methods. The fact that the team is drawn from the local community has been of immense help to researchers.
The nearest railway station is Morena (280 km from Delhi) and Gwalior (316 km from Delhi), both of which are well connected by train to all major cities of India. Gwalior has an airport too. Our field office in Village Agara is 145 km by road from Gwalior and 130 km from Morena. It takes around 3 hours by car to reach our field station from either of these cities. Private taxis can be arranged for if informed in advance. Regular public transport by bus is available from the city of Morena to village Agraa throughout the day.