CUTS, in partnership with Unnayan Shamanyay and with support of World Bank, has undertaken a study to understand and estimate the positive impacts of Border Haats on poverty reduction through income and employment generation (and other multiplier effects including formalisation of informal trade) with specific emphasis to understand gender implications through study of the existing Border Haats at India- Bangladesh border.
The study involved visits to all four haats (Two in Meghalaya i.e. Balat and Kalaichar and Two in Tripura i.e. Srinagar and Kamalasagar) to talk to vendors, vendees, transporters, labourers, officials, opinion leaders and common villagers in and around these haats, on both sides of the border. A comprehensive questionnaire survey was done covering roughly 400 respondents to gather data and information on the economic, social, political impact of the haats, with an added emphasis on the gender dimensions.
The overall understanding that emerged from the study is that these haats are having a substantial positive impact on local economic parameters and livelihood generation along with bettering people-to-people connectivity, cross-border relations, security and lowering informal trade. The study found enough evidence to advocate for further replication and up-scaling of haats in more locations and along other borders. The study also identified both systemic and haat-specific issues and concerns that are presently impeding an even higher positive impact on the border communities from these haats and hence the recommendations.