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. In both its two field locations in Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya, Samrakshan worked with poor and marginal households, mostly belonging to vulnerable groups notified as Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution of India. 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.