It is always seen that the benefits of broad economic growth trickle down very slowly when the poor have little access to key physical, social and financial endowments and there is a top down approach. To overcome highly unequal distribution of these endowments and achieve rapid pro-poor growth, poor people need new opportunities to organize, generate business and to link with mainstream development activities. Forming community institutions of the poor as opposed to institutions for the poor thus becomes a central and crucial strategy of effective social and livelihood development. So the main strategy in developing the community institutions is to provide the poor section of the society the “voice” and the scale required to more effectively engage themselves in the decision making process and to address their needs of economic empowerment. The project would develop and support inclusive, self-reliant, self-managed and sustainable community organizations and their higher aggregated for livelihood improvement.
The "groups" of the poor and disadvantaged are expected to act as a bulwark against social inequalities. The consequent social capital generated out of such effort will be the only capital that the poor can rely on and use as a hedge against their resource deficient condition and powerlessness. This is mainly because by working in groups, rather than as individuals, the rural poor are able to combine and make best use of their skills and resources. A group has more bargaining power than an individual.
The project will bank on the community structure at the village level where Community Development Groups (CDGs) will be formed which will plan for the overall development of the village. There could be more than one CDG in a village depending on the spread and number of households in the village.
Another important community institution where the project would lay lot of emphasis is Self Help Groups (SHGs) comprising of women. These would be the building block of organizing poor and disadvantaged households in the community. The primary level SHGs would be federated at the village by forming the SHG Federations.
SHGs in a village would come together to form a village Federations. The vision behind establishing a SHG federation is to promote a self-reliant and a collective women force which will work towards financial independence and social empowerment in a sustainable fashion. Federations not only help SHGs become institutionally and financially sustainable because they provide the economies of scale that reduce transaction costs and make the provision of these services viable. SHG federations can act as financial intermediaries and service providers facilitating linkage of groups with the banks.
The youth that comprise of sizeable segment in the North East would be organized into Youth Groups at the village level.
The members from various community institutions formed and are involved in sector based livelihood activities would be encouraged to form Producer Organizations for collectivizing and achieving economies of scale by pooling for marketing, input procurement, knowledge/technology access, etc.