National Rural Livelihood Mission(NRLM) :


The mandate of the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), GoI is rural poverty alleviation through programmes directly targeted at the rural poor households. The Swarnajayanti Grameen Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) is the Ministry programme which focuses on self-employment. This programme was launched in the year 1999, by restructuring the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP).

In the 10 years of implementing SGSY, there has developed a widespread acceptance in the country of the need for poor to be organised into SHGs as a pre- requisite for their poverty reduction. Comprehensive reviews of SGSY have brought into focus several shortcomings like vast regional variations in mobilisation of rural poor; insufficient capacity building of beneficiaries; insufficient investments for building community institutions; and weak linkages with banks leading to low credit mobilization and repeat financing. In the absence of aggregate institutions of the poor, such as the SHG federations, the poor households could not access higher order support services for productivity enhancement, marketing linkage, risk management, etc. SGSY has been found to be more successful wherever systematic mobilisation of the poor into SHGs and their capacity building and skill development has been taken up in a systematic manner.

The magnitude of the task of rural poverty alleviation through direct interventions in self-employment is enormous. Out of the estimated 7.0 crore rural BPL households, 4.5 crore households still need to be organised into SHGs. A significant number of these households are extremely vulnerable. Even the existing SHGs need further strengthening.

It was in this background that Government has approved the restructuring of SGSY as the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), to be implemented in a mission mode across the country. NRLM builds on the core strengths of the SGSY and incorporates the important lessons from large scale experiences in the country.

NRLM has an ambitious mandate. It aims to reach out to all the rural poor families (BPL families) and link them to sustainable livelihoods opportunities. It will nurture them till they come out of poverty and enjoy a decent quality of life. To achieve this, NRLM will put in place dedicated and sensitive support structures at various levels. These structures will work towards organising the poor, building their capacities and the capacities of their organisations, enabling them access to finance and other livelihoods resources. The support institutions will play the roles of initiating the processes of organising them in the beginning, providing the livelihoods services and sustaining the livelihoods outcomes subsequently. The support structures will also work with the unemployed rural poor youth for skilling them and providing employment either in jobs, mostly in high growth sectors, or in remunerative self-employment and micro-enterprises.

The Institutions of the poor – SHGs, their federations and livelihoods collectives - provide the poor the platforms for collective action based on self- help and mutual cooperation. They become a strong demand system. They build linkages with mainstream institutions, including banks, and Government departments to address their core livelihoods issues and other dimensions of poverty. These institutions provide savings, credit and other financial services to meet their priority needs. These include consumption needs, debt redemption, food and health security and livelihoods. They augment knowledge, skills, tools, assets, infrastructure, own funds and other resources for the members. They increase incomes, reduce expenditures, increase gainful employment and reduce risks for their members. They also increase their voice, space and bargaining power in dealing with service providers.

NRLM Mission:

“To reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong and sustainable grassroots institutions of the poor.”

NRLM Guiding Principles:
  • Poor have a strong desire to come out of poverty, and they have innate capabilities.
  • Social mobilisation and building strong institutions of the poor is critical for unleashing the innate capabilities of the poor.
  • An external dedicated and sensitive support structure is required to induce the social mobilisation, institution building and empowerment process.
  • Facilitating knowledge dissemination, skill building, access to credit, and access to marketing and access to other livelihoods services enables them to enjoy a portfolio of sustainable livelihoods.
NRLM Values:

The core values which guide all the activities under NRLM are as follows:

  • Inclusion of the poorest and meaningful role to the poorest in all the processes.
  • Transparency and accountability of all processes and institutions.
  • Ownership and key role of the poor and their institutions in all stages – planning, implementation and monitoring.
  • Community self-reliance and self- dependence.
Mission, Principles, Values

The core belief of National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) is that the poor have innate capabilities and a strong desire to come out of poverty. They are entrepreneurial, an essential coping mechanism to survive under conditions of poverty. The challenge is to unleash their capabilities to generate meaningful livelihoods and enable them to come out of poverty. The first step in this process is motivating them to form their own institutions. They and their institutions are provided sufficient capacities to manage the external environment, enabled to access finance, and to expand their skills and assets and convert them into meaningful livelihoods. This requires continuous handholding support. An external dedicated, sensitive support structure, from the national level to the sub-district level, is required to induce such social mobilisation, institution building and livelihoods promotion.