Remote Odisha village with 90% addiction rate 3 years ago, wins National Award for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse

26 June 2018, India

Lariapalli, a small tribal village in Odisha which once had an addiction rate of 90%, today received a National Award for outstanding services in the field of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse, 2018. Over the last 3 years, this Gram Panchayat that used to consume 2.4 quintals of alcohol per day, now consumes 0 units of alcohol.

Owing to persistent efforts in community mobilization, awareness drives and behavioral training workshops organized and led by The Art of Living volunteers under the leadership of Bhola Nath, Director, Art of Living Social Causes, with the support of the head of the Gram Panchayat, Shukri Kujur, and the Odisha Government, brought large-scale attitudinal shifts in this particular village.

In a letter recommending this Gram Panchayat for the National Awards, the Odisha Government detailed the innovative approach that helped make this area completely addiction-free. Further, the government said that it was the emphasis on bringing behavioral changes through the means of Yoga, pranayama, and meditation, along with the help of The Art of Living’s Vyakti Vikas Kendra, that led to the success of this community-driven program.

Uniquely, before starting off with the community mobilization drive, a key aspect of the transformation process, Bhola Nath also led 50 village locals, including Sarpanch of Lariapalli, Shukri Kujur, through a transformative community empowerment workshop called the Youth Leadership Training Program. After going through the program, Kujur passionately got involved in making the village addiction free.

1. The Art of Living conducted ethical and motivational training of these volunteers to become development agents for bringing about positive attitudinal change in the tribal population.

2. The extent of alcohol consumption was 2.40 quintal/day in the 9 revenue villages and 3 hamlets of the Lariapalli Gram Panchayat, according to the Excise Department information. Now it has reduced to zero.

3. There were 6 excise cases of illicit selling of country liquor in the year 2016-17, which have come down to 3 cases in 2017-18 and so far, nil during this year.

4. After the liquor shops shut down, those running illicit liquor businesses and those working there have been brought into work under MGNREGS engagement, particularly in developing water harvest structures and irrigation for agriculture including horticultural plantations, thus gainfully employing them.

5. Through the door-to-door survey, the volunteers continue to identify regular addicts and work towards bringing them out of their addiction by providing them social engagement and spiritual tools for managing their addiction.

With awareness drives and The Art of Living’s behavioral change programs like Youth Leadership Training Program, the Gram Panchayat managed to curb the demand side, and impose heavy fines on people caught selling alcohol to curb the supply side of this industry.