Located in central India, Madhya Pradesh (MP) is India’s second largest state with an area of 308,252 sq km. Called the “heart of India” because of its geographic location, MP borders Uttar Pradesh in the north-east, Chhattisgarh in the south-east, Maharashtra in the south, Gujarat in the west and Rajasthan in the north-west.
The state has four agro-climatic zones, and thus, a diverse mix of ethnic groups and tribes, castes and communities, including indigenous tribal groups and relatively more recent migrants from other states. It has a significant tribal population, which constitutes more than one-fifth of its total population and 40 per cent of India’s total tribal population.
In absolute numbers, Madhya Pradesh is home to the largest number of Scheduled Tribes (STs) in India and is often called “the tribal state of India”. There are 43 recognized STs. There are three particularly vulnerable tribal groups in the state – Sahariya, Baiga and Bharia. The tribal population is largely concentrated in and around the forest area of Madhya Pradesh, and is amongst the most marginalized and vulnerable. The relative isolation of the tribal population and inadequate reach of infrastructure in some districts has made accessing services difficult. This has resulted in limited access to agricultural inputs, extension services, credit and markets.
The rural poor in forested areas, particularly tribal populations, are dependent on forest resources for subsistence, income and employment. Districts with considerable tribal and Scheduled Caste (SC) populations typically represent the most deprived areas. Covering 9.38 per cent of the total land area of the country, Madhya Pradesh is endowed with rich and diverse forest resources and is a reservoir of biodiversity. The forest cover in the state, based on India State of Forest Report 2013, is 77,522 sq km, which is 25.14 per cent of the state’s geographical area.
The UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh works in collaboration with the state government to support it to make strategic shifts and help accelerate and sustain progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. UNICEF also works with various departments, district administrations, elected representatives, NGOs, the mass media, and women, youth and children's organizations to realize the rights of children of Madhya Pradesh.
In partnership with the government and civil society, successful models in health, nutrition, education, wise water management, sanitation, decentralized planning have been developed and are delivering results for children and women. UNICEF in Madhya Pradesh has a strong partnership with the media both in the government and private spheres.
In UNICEF’s current Country Programme cycle (2013-17), emphasis has been placed on assisting the state government to scale up successful models by using resources available under India’s flagship development programmes, building government capacity, empowering communities and promoting behaviour change, for equity-based, participatory and decentralized programming. The focus districts are Guna, Shivpuri, Sheopur, Mandla and Rajgarh, where district-level interventions will be supported in partnership with district administrations, Panchayats and NGOs.