The recent round of poverty estimates, placing Orissa as the poorest state in India, has pressed an alarm bell among planners, practitioners and also international donors. This, in turn, has triggered a sense of urgency for salvaging the situation of chronic poverty, where the central thrust is on expediting growth. Agricultural growth occupies a special significance in this approach since the sector, of late, has demonstrated direct and significant impact on poverty reduction across states, including some of the high-poverty states in the country. While the need to foster growth, particularly, agricultural growth can hardly be over emphasized, what appears to be missing in the emerging perspective on linkages between growth and poverty reduction is integration with one of the most critical segments, i.e. the forest based economy, in the state. The segment has special significance not only in terms of its contribution to the states, revenue but also in terms of supporting poors' livelihood besides rendering environmental services that are often realized beyond the state boundaries. Generating a better understanding of dynamics of forest and development thus, is important for facilitating a shift in the policy perspective within the state.
This paper seeks to examine the extent, nature and structural factors (social, physical and legal) leading to poverty in southern region of Orissa, which has a dubious distinction of having the highest incidence of poverty among rural regions in India. The analysis is based on both secondary as well as primary data; the later pertain to a sample of households from four villages in Southern Orissa. The analysis reinstates the fact that chronic poverty in terms of- both severity and long duration- is an overarching reality for almost nine out of ten households in the region. Similarly, it highlights severe deprivation in terms of food consumption, with a significantly large proportion of households consuming just about half of the prescribed norm of cereal intake. The paper dwells at length on the existing policy initiatives and suggests alternative framework for addressing the issue of chronic chronic poverty in the region.
CPRC Working Paper No. 121, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, ISBN: 978-1-906433-22-2, 76 pp.