Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme: Fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship in Meghalaya

Submitted by Hindi on Mon, 01/30/2017 - 13:05
Social Sector Service Delivery Good Practices Resource Book 2015, NITI Aayog Government of India

The Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme (IBDLP), a flagship programme, was launched by the Government of Meghalaya in 2012. It aims to develop sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurship through an extensive system of training and capacity building, credit linkage and supply chain development. The programme has brought about significant process re-engineering, facilitating convergent action and holistic development through inclusive growth, livelihood promotion and environmental conservation. An Enterprise Facilitation Centre located at the block level functions as a single window for partners to receive all services, saving them from running pillar to post, thereby increasing efficiency in stakeholder matchmaking. Departments also stand to benefit as the Centre filters non-serious applicants.


Meghalaya is rich in important minerals such as coal, limestone, clay and silimanite. It also has a large forest cover, rich biodiversity and numerous water bodies. However, despite such natural abundance, almost half the population of the state lives below poverty line(BPL).2 The paradoxical existence of such high poverty amidst plenty led the Meghalaya government to rethink its development strategy, which had so far focussed on enactment of welfare schemes to provide various goods and services free of cost to target beneficiaries.

The effectiveness and reach of this approach was questionable, as the schemes were prone to errors in inclusion and exclusion of beneficiaries and were plagued by standard service delivery issues like corruption and inefficiency. Also, this approach made beneficiaries become dependent on government aid and lose their own initiative to develop livelihoods.The State government, therefore, felt it imperative to develop a new approach.

The decision to move to an entrepreneurial model of growth and development was taken at the highest levels of the State government. It was believed that transforming beneficiaries into entrepreneurs (undertaking production for the market) would help them generate their own livelihood and obviate the need for constant government aid and schemes. Over time, this approach came to be known as the partnership model of development. Significantly, the term ‘beneficiary’, with its intonations of hierarchy, passivity and dependence, was replacedby ‘partnership’, a model of equality between the state and the citizen. Central to this new approach were the two underlying concepts of sustainability and inclusion, aimed at protecting the region’s fragile ecosystem and ensuring the development of the marginalised sections of the population.

In line with the new approach, it was decided that each family would be provided at least three livelihoods so as to reduce the risks to family incomes. Recognising that the culture of entrepreneurship cannot flourish without an enabling environment, the Governmentof Meghalaya launched the IBDLP in April 2012 to re-engineer governmental systems and processes to ensure an integrated approach to entrepreneur-led Development.


IBDLP’s primary objective is to ensure 11% growth during 2012-2017 through an inclusive and sustainable entrepreneur-led model implemented in convergence mode. The programme also seeks to promote knowledge-centric development through capacitybuilding, particularly in natural resource management and entrepreneurship. It seeks to promote the creation of the required physical infrastructure in a convergent and participatory manner and set up efficient, adaptive and responsive governance systems for facilitating theProcess.

Key Stakeholders

The key stakeholders of the programme are the Meghalaya Basin Development Council (MBDC), the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA), the District BasinDevelopment Unit, the Enterprise Facilitation Centre, entrepreneurs and other supporting and external partners.

Key stakeholders in IBDLP

Implementation Strategy

The IBDLP is a large programme that involves every department in the Government of Meghalaya. To ensure unity of purpose and convergence, the programme is steered by the MBDC, which is headed by the Chief Minister and comprises all the Ministers and Headsof Departments. The implementation is steered by the MBDA, which is headed by the Chief Secretary. Involvement of the highest levels of the state Government gives the programme a single direction.

The programme has identified nine sectors for entrepreneur-led development. These are i) apiculture; ii) aquaculture; iii) forestry and plantation crops; iv) horticulture; v) livestock; vi) rural energy; vii) sericulture; viii) tourism; and ix) water. These nine focus sectors areapproached in a mission mode, with specified, precise targets to be achieved within specified deadlines. Mission Green Meghalaya is another mission but is differentfrom the rest as it is not sector-specific and its primary focus is on environment conservation, not livelihood generation. These nine missions, while dealing with different sectors, nevertheless had certain common, cross-cutting requirements. To address these, a seriesof ‘accompanying measures’ were devised and formed another major component of the programme. These were financial inclusion, market access and climate change adaptation.

Recognising the need for addressing the common requirements of the nine sectors, the IBDLP implementation is based on four pillars of knowledge management, natural resource management, entrepreneurship development and good governance, with convergence as the underlying strategy. Each of these is explained in Figure 2.

Four pillars of IBDLP

a. Convergence

The rationale behind a convergent strategy is two-fold – optimising resources by harnessing departmental synergies and improving planning and implementation through coordinated action. MBDC and MBDA ensure this convergence at the state level. At the district level,the Government has created Basin Development Units (BDUs), headed by Deputy Commissioners, as the nodal implementation agencies.

The main purpose of basin development authorities is to provide a framework to create links between departments and facilitate the exploitation of synergies. The same strategy is adopted at both the state and district levels, and there is full- and part-time deputation of members from different departments, leading to inter-connectedness between departments.

b. Entrepreneurship development

Enterprise Facilitation Centres (EFCs) have been set up at the block level. After self-assessment of an entrepreneurship idea, families or individuals (‘partners’) come to the EFC where they receive further counselling on their ideas and the assistance available to them. They are also provided access to documents and audio-visual material on successful enterprises to enhance their motivation.

The partners’ socio-economic profile (including their livelihood profile, bank linkage details and educational qualifications) is recorded, and psychological mapping is undertaken to assess their seriousness. This data, along with their proposed idea, is used to assess their‘entrepreneurial value’ and categorise them into three priority lists. Priority 1 partners receive immediate assistance. Priority 2 partners get assistance in two-three months. Priority 3 partners receive assistance in six months. Once the proposals of entrepreneurs have beenapproved, the next step generally involves providing them with the necessary support.

Two types of assistance – training and bank linkages –are provided. Training initiatives are aimed at upgrading skills to enable partners to undertake more valuable and profitable activities. Capacity building is primarily undertaken by the State Institute for Rural Development (SIRD), Bio-Resources Development Centre (BRDC), Meghalaya Institute for Entrepreneurship (MIE) and various other agencies that offer skill training programmes.Bank linkages, on the other hand, are aimed at assisting partners to obtain bank loans.

If necessary, the state also acts as a guarantor on their behalf. Additionally, departments provide various benefits under their respective programmes. For example, a farmer requesting livestock seed and feed could be provided those by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary under its livestock mission.

Overcoming water scarcityTo empower women, a special scheme known as ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment Entrepreneur Scheme’ has been started to provide women entrepreneurs with margin money of Rs. 5,000. All women over 18 years of age are eligible for the scheme,provided they submit a sound business plan to the bank in the form of a project report.

The Meghalaya Trade Promotion Organisation (MTPO) is meant to handle the marketing of products by identifying markets; creating forward and backward linkages; and carrying out branding, packaging and promotion. It is also required to provide market intelligence inputs to producers and advertise their products outside the state.

Counselling of potential entrepreneursMobile Multi-Facility Centre

c. Knowledge management

The Knowledge Services Division (KSD) controls the knowledge management function, guided by the underlying philosophy of creating networks that encourage free flow of information and foster dialogue between all the IBDLP partners like government, citizensand traditional institutions.

A Partner Management Information System (PMIS) has been created to handle data related to partners who register at EFCs. This data is categorised by the mission and analysed at the macro level by BDUs and the MBDA before interventions are planned. Through astate-wide market study of trade data, value chain and infrastructure, Meghalaya has identified areas in which it has a comparative advantage and large-scale livelihoods can be created. These are livestock and livestock products, handicrafts and ecotourism services, and highvalue agriculture and horticulture products. Six markets have also been identified for start-up interventions and infrastructure upgrade.

Mobile Multi-Facility CentreIn order to generate awareness and motivate partners, the media team at KSD produces documentaries and creates documents on best practices and success stories. A publication titled In Conversation with the People of Meghalaya has been started to keep the government and the civil society informed about the programme. Newsletters are published in local languages to communicate the basic ideas of IBDLP.

With a view to organising indigenous knowledge resources, the programme is documenting Meghalaya’s rich traditional knowledge in domains such as medicine, aromatic plants, livestock, agriculture, apiculture, sericulture and forestry. It is also working to organise,regulate and support practitioners of traditional knowledge such as medicinal doctors, livestock experts etc.

d. Natural resource management

Natural resource management (NRM) is essential to ensure the sustainability of livelihoods. To this end, IBDLP is creating a natural resource database. The North Eastern Space Application Centre is developing a Geographical Information System (GIS) database of Meghalaya, providing satellite-based data on variables such as soil type, elevationand ground-truthing. Alongside, the Centre for Adaptation to Climate Change, established in partnership with KfW Development Bank and Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is managing climate changerelated information. Establishment of Meghalaya State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (MSNDC) and blocklevel Automatic Weather Stations to capture real-time weather data is underway.

IBDLP recognises that behaviour change is critical for environmental conservation. Under Mission Green Meghalaya, which aims to rejuvenate the environment and stop further environmental degradation, a cadre of community-selected volunteers has been created atvillage and micro watershed levels to generate awareness of Natural Resource Management (NRM) and resource conservation. These are linked to the BDU and assist with the implementation of Mission Green Meghalaya and other NRM missions.

Additionally, an Integrated Village Development Plan (IVDP) has been initiated for community-based NRM. In all 1,100 villages have been selected for communitybasedmicro-planning need assessment and mapping of demographics and natural resources. Social knowledge on climate change (such as people’s recollection of the reduction in number of oranges or bees) will also be documented. This will supplement the natural resource database by providing qualitative information in addition to the existing quantitative data; both sources will be available on a single platform. The comprehensive naturalresource database will also be used to generate village advisories to assist in the planning process.

Flow of information under IBDLP

e. Good governance

Accountability, capacity building and responsiveness are the three main pillars of good governance under IBDLP. The Meghalaya Institute of Governance has been created as a nodal agency to monitor these aspects. Accountability is handled through external evaluation, peer review and activity reports placed before the state legislature. Partnership with several international development organisations has made it necessary to havedeeper and more proactive measures for transparency. Capacity building, on the other hand, focusses on empowering stakeholders so that they can participate in a positive manner. Accordingly, training is given to government officials, NGO partners, district local bodies,village councils, village headmen and communities. Responsiveness focusses on strengthening institutions such that they are able to effectively meet emergingdemands. Key institutions like the EFCs are monitored to ensure that they respond consistently.

Resources Utilised

The IBDLP does not require any separate financial resources and has no earmarked funds in the state budget. However Rs. 600 crore is used annually as a catalyst/development trigger. Activity funds have been mobilised from the Government of India and bilateraland multilateral financial institutions.


Attitudinal shift towards entrepreneurship: Bringing in change in people’s mindset has been one of IBDLP’s biggest achievements. As in many other parts of the country, the underprivileged in Meghalaya too were mainly involved in subsistence farming and look up to the state for doles and subsidies. IBDLP has been able to change the attitude to a great extent towards one of entrepreneurship, where citizens think of how they can undertake profitable activities and generate their own livelihoods. In terms of actual livelihood generation as well, the programme is making progress, as is presented in Table 1.

Greater access and efficiency for all stakeholders: The EFC functions as a single window through which partners receive all the services, which saves them from running pillar to post. Being conveniently located at the block level, it not only connects them to the relevant departments but also does all the necessary follow-ups, thereby increasing efficiency in stakeholder matchmaking. Departments also stand to benefit, as the EFC filters nonserious applicants and provides them with genuine and sincere candidates, thus eliminating the trouble of going to the field to hunt for partners. Table 2 and Table 3present details on trainings and loans and infrastructure development, respectively.

Livelihoods generated

Key Challenges

The biggest challenge faced by IBDLP has come from the absence of entrepreneurship culture in the state. People’s dependence on government doles and subsidies makesit difficult to orient them towards creating their own livelihoods.

Skill development and bank linkageThe other major hurdle is related to securing and repaying loans. While partners are reluctant to access formal credit due to the intimidating procedures involved, banks alsoare reluctant to offer loan to some due to doubts over their credit worthiness. This requires the government to step in and act as guarantor for potential entrepreneurs.

The state’s difficult topography and terrain make connectivity a challenge. Block-level EFCs do not always have internet connectivity and are unable to upload their partner data directly onto the PMIS. An SMS-based registration system was developed to address this issue,but it had limited functionality as it could only record basic categories such as sector details and services required and could not record the crucial partner assessment data. Thestrategy was subsequently changed, and partner data was stored offline on excel sheets, which were later uploaded from district headquarters.

Infrastructure developmentTrainees in Mawphlang EFC

Replicability and Sustainability

The initiative receives support from the highest levels of the State government and has generated significant expectations among people as well, with grievances being related mainly to the pace of the programme and not its direction. Therefore, IBDLP has both generated demand and assured supply.

Financial considerations are not an issue as the programme itself does not require any money. The administration has put in place adequate systems to handle a large targetaudience. Solutions to supply bottlenecks have also been identified and planned for. A large number of young professionals, having experience in working outside the state, have been involved in the programme. Motivated and well trained, they have contributed a positivemomentum to the programme and are seen as valuable assets for its sustainability.

IBDLP has received extensive support from several strategic national and international partners, which is a testimony to the acclaim the programme has received in a short time. International partners and funding agencies are drawn by the State government’s commitment to good governance, which is evident from the establishment of strong grievance redressal, monitoring and evaluation systems and the focus on transparency. Combined with the stable law and order climate in the state, these factors provide favourable conditions to attract foreign aid.

In terms of replicability, IBDLP is best suited for replication in regions like Meghalaya that are rich in natural resources but have delicate ecosystems that limit the scope for industrialisation. Some such states/regions are Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and the hill districts of Manipur. These areas can benefit immensely from IBDLP’sstrategy of sustainable livelihood generation driven by knowledge-based NRM. IBDLP’s strong emphasis on creation and management of community knowledge, which partly drives the bottom-up planning process, is another strategy that can be profitably replicated at thelevel of Panchayati Raj Institutions.

It may be difficult to exactly replicate the model in mainland states that are larger, have bigger governments and higher population densities and a different natural resourceecosystem. However, the basic principles of IBDLP – convergence, extensive outreach and participation, knowledge management, involvement of the young professionals, and demand-driven partnership approach – can be customised and replicated in most regions.


The implementation of IBDLP has been unprecedented in so far as the entire government of a state has rallied around a programme and carried out the reforms necessary to achieve its goals. The IBDLP’s aims are also extremely ambitious, as it attempts to change themindset of an entire state in a mission-mode manner. The programme is still underway but has set a powerful precedent in livelihoods management for other states that seek to raise their citizens out of poverty in a manner that conserves the environment and is driven by the local community.

1. Planning Department, Government of Meghalaya. ‘Development and Management of Natural Resources’.
2. Meghalaya State Planning Board, 2009
3. Equivalent of a District Magistrate

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