A Holistic Intervention Towards Sustainable Livelihoods and Coastal Conservation: A DHAN Foundation Case
DHAN was a non-government organization with a difference. It was neither a philanthropic organization nor a service organization but a development organization focused on grassroots development aided by professional management. At the same time, it had a clear vision of being only an enabling institution rather than a directing agency. Dedicated to the mission of poverty eradication through grassroots development action, DHAN had made a significant impact on the Indian scene in the years since its inception in 1997. By 2017, it had touched the lives of 1.5 million households and was poised to reach out to another one million households over the next five years. In its mission to combat poverty, DHAN initially employed two major thematic interventions, namely, community banking and water management. However, over a period of time, it forayed into several other domains such as healthcare, education and livelihood generation in response to the dynamic requirements of its community of beneficiaries, specifically, the marginalized and the poorest of the poor in India. This case explores the theme of sustainable livelihoods and how interventions in this sphere need to be viewed and managed in an integrated manner with a conscious focus on the conservation of the larger ecosystem in which they are embedded. The case describes DHAN's various initiatives and interventions in the sustainable livelihoods arena, the challenges it encountered along the way and its innovative responses to those challenges.