As the sun rose over the lush Araku Valley, history was being made. 140 participants representing 61 organizations from 21 different countries gathered for the 2012 Livelihoods Camp in India to co-build solutions for rural communities to live in healthy, sustainable ecosystems.

The 2012 Livelihoods Camp (October 8-11) began with a symbolic event – the planting of over 100 new trees by the attendees. Their collective presence and participation in this forum represented a new approach to investing in livelihoods through co-creation and local interactions.

History of the Livelihoods Camp

The Livelihoods Camp was born out of the belief that the success of large scale impactful projects depends on capacity building and knowledge sharing between practitioners. In 2011, the first camp was held in Paris to explore sustainable development practices through the sharing of best practices, tools and methodologies. In 2012, more than ever before, the Livelihoods Network wanted to put the rural communities they serve at the forefront of the event, hence the gathering in Araku Valley.

Why the Araku Valley, India for Livelihoods Camp 2012?

In the Araku Valley, Livelihoods is working with the Naandi Foundation on a large-scale agroforestry project that will impact 100,000 Adivasi Indians. The Adivasi are considered among the most disadvantaged populations in India. By replanting 6 million trees, the Adivasi farmers will be able to increase their crop production considerably, producing up to 15,000 extra tons of mangoes and 500 tons of coffee over the long term. Organized into a cooperative, the farmers of Araku are already successfully exporting their high-quality coffee. The camp was situated in the Araku Valley so that participants could offer pertinent solutions to the existing Livelihoods project in the area as well as to offer additional help and guidance to the Adivasi tribes.

What was the format of the Livelihoods Camp 2012?

The Livelihoods Camp 2012 was designed around an original concept, “learning by doing”, organized in a practical way as follows: half a day of contact with local Adivasi families to identify their needs and expectations, and another half day for the participants of the Camp to share the results of those field visits and to co-build and present solutions to the problems identified. The Camp was organized into six distinct workshops consisting of site visits and team discussions. In line with its emphasis on local involvement, the agenda was consulted with the local Adivasi tribes in the Paderu Tribal Agency Area. The themes that emerged – carbon monitoring, access to market, household energy, financial inclusion, nutritional security, and improving agricultural capacity – spanned multiple social development parameters in a holistic approach to livelihoods promotion.