Project information

New routes out of poverty

Securing better access to healthcare, education and rights for migrant workers and their families in the Indian Himalayas

4 years

Charity information

Pragya UK

Pragya UK logo
  • Need


    In the highest reaches of the Indian Himalayas, tens of thousands of migrant workers and their families live in appalling poverty: miles from the nearest settlements, with no access to safe water or electricity, and sleeping in cramped, unhygienic shacks built from disused oil drums. Working and living in incredibly dangerous conditions, lack of access to healthcare, education and basic rights has trapped huge numbers of these workers and their children into poverty, hunger and disease.


    Pragya is working with dozens of migrant worker communities across the Indian Himalayas to address their most urgent needs. Schools On Wheels will deliver education to children with little or no experience of learning; health and safety equipment and training will greatly reduce risk for adults; and local advocacy will encourage settled communities and employers to work with migrant groups in solving these problems for the long-term.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Adults and children in 12 migrant labour camps will be at reduced risk of injury and disease.


    » Training for workers within each group to act as Health & Safety monitors, responsible for reducing accidents and providing basic First Aid.
    » Protective clothing, including masks, gloves and warm winter garments, will be provided to all migrant households.
    » Local doctors will be supported to run Health Camps, providing life-saving early diagnosis and referral to adults and children.
    » Water filters will be distributed to each camp.

    Reduced cases of sickness, injury and fatality among adults and children in migrant settlements.

    Aim 2

    Safe, supportive childcare and learning environments for children and adults in 12 settlements.


    » 2 Schools On Wheels (converted vans staffed by trained teachers) will provide basic primary education to children, focusing on literacy and numeracy.
    » 6 tent-based Mobile Childcare Centres will be set up to provide safe environments for migrant children, supervised by trained Creche Attendants.
    » Adult labourers will be taught basic literacy through a bespoke adult learning module, delivered by School On Wheels teachers.

    Improved literacy and numeracy skills for children and adults in migrant camps; reduced infant mortality rate; reduced cases of disease and accident among infants.

    Aim 3

    Stronger local commitment to migrant welfare issues, and better access to rights for migrants


    » Workers supported to work in partnership with local employers and communities to improve basic welfare services, e.g. access to healthcare
    » Awareness-raising material on migrant welfare issues distributed to local employers and communities.
    » Awareness-raising sessions in local primary schools, to increase access to state education for migrant children.

    Adult workers reporting increased understanding of their rights; local community members reporting increased awareness of migrant welfare issues; improved primary enrolment rates.

  • Impact


    The project will contribute to significantly improved living and working conditions for migrant groups in 12 locations in the Indian Himalayas. Families will ultimately benefit from increased resilience against financial and other shocks, and more opportunities to bring about positive changes to their lives. Pragya plans to demonstrate this by conducting a survey focused on livelihoods, health and education indicators 2 years from project launch; and 1 year from project completion.


    Lack of support from local communities and employers could prevent project activities from making a long-term difference. However, Pragya has worked to build strong local partnerships in the target regions since 2008, and was requested by the Indian Army - a major local stakeholder - to relaunch this project.


    Updates on the project's activities and progress against objectives will be sent to all donors by email at least once every 3 months.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £100,030

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £28,842 Improving health and safety Health and safety training and equipment; health camps
      £14,573 Education School On Wheels running costs; Mobile Childcare Centre set-up costs and training
      £9,212 Advocacy and awareness Awareness-raising material designed and distributed
      £35,472 Salaries and overheads Field Officer x 2; Project Manager x 1; Teacher x 2; Driver x 2
      £11,931 Monitoring and evaluation Monitoring, evaluation and learning

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Big Lottery Fund £20,490 Guaranteed
    Ashmore Foundation £22,704 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project will target 12 migrant settlements in the Indian Himalayas, in Kinnaur district (Himachal Pradesh state) and in Chamoli district (Uttarakhand state). These high-altitude districts are home to some of the most remote rural communities in India, characterised by extremely poor access to basic services including healthcare, education and markets. Infrastructure is highly limited, and risk from natural hazards, particularly floods and landslides, is extremely high.


    Approximately 3,000 adults and children living in 12 migrant labour settlements will benefit from project activities. The majority of labourers and their families originate from Nepal or from particularly poor parts of India such as Bihar. Many of them have been pushed from their homes by mass rural unemployment, forcing them to seek work in the dangerous and often unregulated construction sector. These groups are some of India's most disadvantaged.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Pragya is a non-governmental development organisation working with the poorest and most vulnerable communities of the high altitude Himalayan region. Pragya is the only organisation to have a comprehensive presence in the complete high altitude Himalayan belt, and we implement our projects through seven Field Offices located in five Himalayan states in India, and a Central Coordination Office located near Delhi. A small London office provides support and representation at an international level.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Smiti Gahrotra

    Manager - Programmes Team. Smiti will oversee the delivery of project activities, working closely with migrant communities and local stakeholders.

    Greg Hilditch

    Development Manager, responsible for financial management of the project, monitoring and evaluation.

“I work without any safety equipment. During winter I tie tubes around my hand to save myself from being injured while breaking stones.”

Seeta Devi, road worker, aged 25