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Poverty, influenced by various economic, political, social, and cultural factors, remains a significant challenge worldwide despite a decline in global poverty rates over the past 25 years. In India, rural poverty continues to affect millions despite the country's economic progress. The Holy Cross Social Service Society is dedicated to enhancing livelihood opportunities to improve household incomes and well-being. Their Livelihoods portfolio encompasses diverse community-based interventions across south India, aiming to elevate rural incomes through modern farming practices, water management, soil conservation, livestock rearing, market connections, and artisanal skills development.
The Challenge:

India's economic growth has reduced the percentage of people living below the poverty line, yet a substantial portion of the population, predominantly in rural areas, struggles to meet basic needs. Around 21.9% of India's population lived below the poverty line in 2011, with nearly 260 million residing in rural areas.

Rural families face difficulties escaping poverty due to heavy reliance on agriculture, which is often hindered by unpredictable monsoons, poor soil quality, inadequate irrigation, lack of post-harvest facilities, and limited market access.

To foster a more inclusive and empowered society, uplifting the most vulnerable communities is essential. Recognizing this, the Holy Cross Social Service Society prioritizes rural and tribal livelihood development as a key aspect of their rural and tribal development initiatives.

Strategic Approach:
At the Holy Cross Social Service Society, our integrated approach involves prioritizing grassroots efforts, where we nurture community-driven initiatives, empower local women farmers, and implement tailor-made programs addressing the distinct needs of marginalized communities, all with the overarching goal of fostering holistic development and empowerment.
Initiative: Livelihoods Improvement Program through Management of NTFPs:
The Holy Cross Organization, in partnership with the Mangrove Foundation-Luxembourg, is implementing a Livelihoods Improvement Program focused on managing Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) to address key challenges indigenous women face. These challenges include exploitation by local traders, reliance on barter systems, and a lack of skills in value addition for their products. The project aims to enhance food security for these women by promoting positive self-esteem, forming groups to amplify their voices, providing training in value addition and NTFP processing, and advocating for improved sustainable forest governance. Strategies include forming NTFP collectors' committees, group formation for better negotiation power, and training in forest management and business skills to ensure fair trade and product enhancement.



Agriculture and allied activities provide livelihoods for nearly 50% of India’s population. This is primarily why our Natural Resources Management (NRM) intervention strives to help farmers preserve resources and create livelihood options. Our work as an NGO in environmental conservation has led us to focus on water, organic farming and climate change too. With kind support from IGSSS- New Delhi, HCSSS has initiated project on Sustainable agriculture to improve crop yield and to ensure ecological balances through promotion of organic farming and bio waste utilization.


With kind support from DWSG-The Netherlands, HCSSS has initiated project on alternative livelihood options to improve the economic condition of the poor indigenous women by providing milk cattle