Building capacity dissolves differences and irons out inequalities. These words by former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam echo our philosophy at BRLF. With the capacity gap at the grassroots causing a chasm between outlays and outcomes, we have set up a capacity-building vertical for existing and aspiring rural professionals in the country. One of its initiatives is the Certificate Programme in Rural Livelihoods (CPRL).

Targeting the tribal populationfrom the ages of 18 to 40, CPRL is a six-month certificate programme that incorporates a series of modules on rural livelihoods with institutional partners including government and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Participants travel to 15 organisations in 13 locations across 9 states (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh), where CSOs supported by BRLF provide field-based training on 16 tested modules of rural livelihoods.The topics covered include groundwater, drinking water, watershed and irrigation management and sanitation; farm-based (wadi approach and farmer producer organisations), off farm-based and forest-based livelihoods and non-pesticide management; self-help groups, gender, rural community enterprise development, natural resource management and common property resources, soft skills, functional English language, rights and entitlements, functional IT skills, and tribal histories and identities.

These modules are delivered by an array of knowledge partners with expertise and experience, such as Quest Alliance, ACT, AKRSP-I, Bhasha, ANANDI, FES, Yuva Mitra, SATHI , Setu Abiyan, Samaj Pragati Sahyog, Gram Vikas,WASSAN, Udyogini and PRAN.

Applications for CPRL are invited through open advertisement on the websites of BRLF andIIHMR University.State governments, state livelihood missions, rural development departments, PRIs and CSOs working in the Central India tribal belt are eligible to nominate candidates for the programme. So far, four batches have been completed with 116 students (89 men and 27 women) graduating from CPRL. . Of these, 32 students are from Odisha, 30 from Jharkhand, 17 from Maharashtra, 12 from Chhattisgarh, 9 each from Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal and 7 from Rajasthan.At the moment the fifth and sixth batch are in progress with another 58 candidates going through the course.

A majority of the graduates are working with CSOs, panchayats and government agencies. For instance, Anand Ratan Bambale from CPRL I is now a cluster resource person with Pragati Abhiyan in Nashik, Maharashtra, assisting marginalised farmers. Laxni Dhurvey from CPRL III is working with Samerth Charitable Trust on a watershed development project. She says that the learning she got from the water related modules of CPRL is helping her in doing her work effectively. And Manoj Kumar Soy of CPRL II has gone back to work with his nominating organisation, Adivasi Ho Samaj Mahasabha, working toaugmentlivelihoods and preserve tribal art and culture. “There are 12 more CPRL III & IV graduates from my area,” he says with pride. “All of us plan to work together for our community.”

Indeed, there is strength in numbers. And it is BRLF’s endeavour to build this strength and effectively leverage it for sustainable livelihoods and development.