Dalit livelihoods

In Bangladesh as in other places in the Indian subcontinent, the Dalit, or ‘untouchable’ people face huge discrimination, social exclusion and economic disadvantage. As a consequence, in the communities where they live, most live in extreme poverty.

Working with ActionAid I was able to document some of the positive stories to come out of this disadvantage, made possible thanks to their support. In these images we meet Aisha, 28, who regularly attends the development group supported by ActionAid. Here they learn about issues affecting their livelihoods and receive training on ways they can earn more income. The group also provides seed funding so that members can improve their lives.

Aisha was initially given just 12,000 Taka ($160AUD) which she used to buy a cow. A year later, she sold the cow for 35,000 Taka. Using the profits she was able to buy another cow, start a poultry farm and grow betel trees (the leaves of which can be sold).

She explained that the group has changed her life because:

“When our Dalit community is together and we use the savings to start small enterprises, the society starts to view us differently. As you become more independent financially, the respect from the rest of the society increases. This is what encourages you to keep trying, to improve your life, so that you can get more respect.”