Chembakolli is one of several villages situated in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India in the state of Tamil Nadu.
It is a remote Adivasi (tribal) village made up of approximately 100 houses scattered among the trees of a thickly forested valley.
The Adivasi people
Adivasi means ‘first people’ – the aboriginal people of India who make up 8% of the 1.1 billion people who live there. Adivasis have a different culture to the majority non-tribal population and live outside the Hindu caste system. Adivasi people have lived sustainably in the forests of the Indian Nilgiri Hills or ‘blue mountains’ for thousands of years.
The last 100 years
Traditionally, they were owners of the entire forest area, but over the last century their livelihoods have been threatened by displacement from the land by government authorities and non-tribal people seeking opportunities for national park land, timber, and tea and coffee plantations. This resulted in a once self-reliant community being reduced to unskilled landless labourers.
ActionAid, ACCORD and Chembakolli
In 1986 a local Non-Governmental Organisation called ACCORD (funded at the time by ActionAid) was set up to protect Adivasi land rights and to help people to take control of their lives. Within 15 years the majority of Adivasis had gained small pieces of land from half an acre to three acres. Today, Adivasis have gained the right to live on their land and now make all major decisions with ACCORD in a supporting role.
ActionAid schools' Chembakolli resources
ActionAid UK's Schools department has worked with ACCORD to produce a range of educational resources about the village of Chembakolli.
A percentage of income from the resources goes directly to the Adivasis.
For more information about the Adivasi communities around Chembakolli visit www.adivasi.net