The Kudumbashree Story


A Model Project in Attappady


Government of Kerala accorded administrative sanction to the Attappady Comprehensive Tribal and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (ACT and PVTG) Development Project on 3rd September 2014. The Empowered Committee of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India had approved the project on 18th February 2014. The project, supported by the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) is of seven years’ duration.

The project has been conceived as one with potential to be a national model for working with tribal groups in general and PVTGs in particular. The project aims at comprehensive development of all the families of the three tribal communities of Attappady Block in Palakkad District. Among the three tribal communities - Irula, Muduga, and Kurumba - Kurumba is considered a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).

The project was formulated in the context of the incidents of child deaths reported from the block during 2012-14. With 58 malnutrition deaths reported over a short period, Attappady had gained nation-wide attention. It has been pointed out that land alienation and the loss of traditional food security systems had led to acute poverty and widespread malnutrition. Questions were raised on the effectiveness of the development projects implemented in the area over the last few decades.

The geographical area commonly referred to as Attappady is a rural development Block covering three Grama Panchayats – Agali, Pudur, and Sholayur. It is part of Mannarkkad Taluk in Palakkad district. Attappady borders Tamil Nadu on the northern and eastern sides. Attappady is located close to the famous Silent Valley National Park. It is within the catchment area of Bhavani River, one of the east-flowing rivers of Kerala, and its tributaries – Siruvani and Kodungarapallam. Table summarises the demographic profile of the tribal communities in Attappady.

 Table: Demographic Profile of Tribal Communities - Attappady






















Before independence, the population of Attappady was entirely tribal. Subsequently waves of migration which brought Tamil and Malayali settlers put the tribal communities at a disadvantage; settlers eventually outnumbered them. As per the latest statistics, tribal communities are only 35% of Attappady’s population. Of these, Irula is the largest community, followed by Muduga and then Kurumba.


The project endeavours comprehensive integrated development of tribal families of Attappady block. It aims at reducing vulnerabilities of the communities and improving their socio-economic and livelihood status. Another objective of the project is to maximise the communities’ access to their rights and entitlements.

The current project, which is a pilot according the Government Order according administrative sanction, is intended to build the area as an ‘immersion site’ and ‘training ground’ for tribal and PVTG communities across the country. The project is also expected to nurture the social capital of Community Resource Persons along with protocols and modules developed for deployment wherever needed for supporting and guiding the tribal and PVTG communities across the country.

The project also proposes to train 6000 youth for skill development for placement and self-employment, each through separate convergence efforts.

Project Strategy

The project strategy involves social mobilisation and building exclusive community network of tribal women. There are project components aimed at improving the social, economic, and livelihood status. There are also  components that attempt to enhance community access to rights and entitlements. Another set of components are for capacity building and skill development. All the components are being implemented through the community network.

The institutional structure envisioned in the project comprises Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) at the lowest level, Ooru Samities at hamlet level, and Panchayat Samities at the Grama Panchayat level. NHGs are women’s collectives formed at neighbourhood level within hamlets. These are the building blocks of the community network. Ooru Samities, which are federations of NHGs at the hamlet level, have General Bodies comprising all the NHG members of the respective hamlets. The General Body of the Panchayat Level Samiti consists of office bearers of all the Ooru Samities in the Grama Panchayat.


The government has ordered the setting up of a Project Management Unit (PMU) headed by a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who is an officer of the National Mission Management Unit (NMMU) of NRLM. The COO has been placed by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India at Attappady.

As per the government order, the PMU should consist of an Assistant Project Officer (APO) responsible for finances and administration of the PMU and a Finance Manager who assists the APO. The APO has the delegation of powers of a District Mission Coordinator of Kudumbashree.

The project team includes two Coordinators – one for social mobilisation and the other for institution building and capacity building, three Young Professionals, and a Consultant for Mahila Kissan Sasaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP). The project team has 120 Animators, drawn in from the communities and paid by the project. There are also Community Resource Persons (CRPs) and Para Professionals among the paid staff of the project.

Status of Implementation (as of January 2016)

  • A total of 584 NHGs have been formed across the three Grama Panchayats. These include 189 NHGs in Pudur, 214 in Agali, and 181 in Sholayur.
  • The 584 NHGs together have savings of Rs 12,511,221; the total loan outstanding is Rs 9,954,430; loan repayment so far has been Rs 3,307,070.
  • NHGs have availed Rs 3,168,881 as loan through bank linkages. Nineteen NHGs have established bank linkages while others are in the process. Repayment of loans have started.
  • Ooru Samities have been formed in 118 hamlets across the three Grama Panchayats.
  • Panchayat Level Samities have been formed in all the three Grama Panchayats; a fourth Panchayat Level Samiti has been formed for the Kurumba community staying in remote locations. Thus there are four Panchayat Level Samities as of now.
  • A Block Level Samiti has been formed covering all the four Panchayat Level Samities.