Enhancing women’s empowerment and livelihood opportunities through collective effort in Khiwli Kala village- Allahabad – A case study of UPSRLM

Introduction:

This story is not a resultant of any miracle; it is an outcome of blended efforts- of courage, confidence collective, desire and actions. It is a testament of toil. It is a depiction of how things change when people desire for change, and act for their own. Rural poor women from village- Khiwli Kalan, far from glamour and publicity, who refused to fell prey to their circumstances, to become the victims of their fate, and wrote their own saga of success.

Khiwli Kala is a village that falls under Koraon block under Allahabad district in Uttar Pradesh, at a distance of 25 kilometres from the block and 85 Kilometres from the district headquarter respectively in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The total number of households (HH) in this village is around 374 out of which 132 households are from the most deprived community called “kol” also fall in schedule caste in Uttar Pradesh.

They had to work hard as a agricultural labourer, engaged in shared farming in which they invest 100 % labour  and other agriculture input except seed in which 50% cost shared by the land owners. On harvest 50 % share of entire production is taken by the land owner, few women also engaged in breaking stone as traditional occupation. They had to borrow money from the sahukars in their utter need, and the sahukars used to exploit them by levying high rates of interest ranging 5 to 10 % per month (60 to 120% per annum) on the debts or by forcing them to work in their establishments on tough conditions. Their situation was very pathetic and they had least access to any civic amenities and provisions.

Lack of own land for farming, high rate of interest on the debts, low wage rate, gender inequity, lack of access over natural resources etc are main constraints of women of kol society found during group discussion.

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How intervention began Khiwli Kala village :

There were 3 self help group of women formed under the SGSRY, when the block mission management team of UPSRLM, entered in the village in January 2014. The situation of these groups also very pathetic, irregular monthly meeting and saving, delay in repayment of loan and dispute among members, keeping in view such precarious conditions, the team of UPSRLM worked hard to handle the situation to revive these groups with the  “Panchsutra concept”.  This village also selected for CRP drive in August 2014 and there were 21 SHG formed by CRP from Jeevika Bihar followed by awareness campaign, social and resource mapping, organizing various meeting, modular training and telling their own success story related to their overcome of poverty. This was happened after one month hard work done by the CRP team, which comprises 1-PRA CRP, 1-Master trainer CRP, 2- Group formation CRP- 1- Community Mobolisation/Book writer CRP.  Identification of ‘Book Keepers for SHG as well as few active women were also done during the CRP round.

Total twenty eight groups have been formed including two groups which have been formed by “Samuh Sakhi” after the CRP round.  Three village organisations has been also formed by trained community resource person of Jeevika Bihar during senior CRP round organized in March 2015.

Experience and committed professional team of UPSRLM had also given handholding support to these formed SHGs, Village organisations and community cadres like “Samuh Sakhi” & Book keeper through a series of capacity building interventions for SHGs & VOs and community cadres to facilitate norms within institutions, use of case study and giving platform to them to share their own challenges and success.  Staffs also supports to these Institutions in linkages with local bank, envision and demystify about various  other national and state level  available schemes and capacitated to get benefits from such  schemes besides  provided project benefits such as start up cost, revolving fund, community investment fund etc.

Outcome:  

It is a depiction of how things change when people desire for change, and act for their own, within one year time span, drastic changes have been brought by the people themselves from their own  in the said village, which are categorise in following segments.

Social Empowerment:

Kusum kali, Geeta, shusheela, Karuna etc are the face of social empowerment remarkable confidence are prominent in the faces of these women, now  they themselves have  become  a change agent of empowering process of other similar women of this village and able to tell their own story of changes very proudly with full of confidence.  During the focus group discussion, they told about their own story of exploitation from local money lenders, following group norms called Panch Sutra, attending gram sabha meeting, discussion on common problem of village, moral and economic support to individual women member in need have which could enable to build confidence among women in each SHG and village organisation.

During the sanitation drive in last October 2014, about 150 SHG women of these villages had run a drive of cleaning of  a “Dalit Basti” called Goutman tola and within 3-4 hours they cleaned up the whole tola. Functional literacy also enhanced rapidly among the  group members through signature and functional literacy campaign.

Enhancing Livelihood opportunities:

Before the intervention, most of the families took loan from local money lenders on high rate of interest ranging from  5 to 10 % depending upon purpose of loan and condition of borrower. Kusumkali  told their own story during focus group discussion, just before  six months of UPSRLM intervention, She had taken Rs. 20000 as loan from local money lender and had to work hard  for the whole month in others agriculture field as labour  to repay only the interest portion  of the loan which was Rs. 1000. After the formation of her own group and getting revolving fund and community investment fund, she took loan from SHG two times for repayment of loan. During the analysis of purpose of loan of SHGs and Planning of micro credit, it has been found that about 15 % loan has gone for repayment of old debt. Otherwise they had to bear such cycle of burden year after year and increasing cumulatively.

Having a small piece of land is far from their dream because most of them are land less belong to these SHG as discussed during FGD.  Since most of these landless families are exploited by those land owners, in which land they work. As a local system, interested farmer took agriculture land on high rent for one year from local land owners. The rent is around Rs. 5000 to 10000 per bigha (1/4 hectare) depending of type of land, irrigation facilities etc. During the analysis it is found that about 15 % loan distributed for taking small piece of agricultural land on rent for cultivation.  The rent is very high as per economic analysis but it is better than shared farming and exploitation form local land owners.

Now days the cost of agricultural inputs are very high and on an average about 20 % loans are sanctioned for agriculture purpose such as irrigation, purchase of  fertilizers, seeds etc, which  are time bound need, require immediate action. It is also found that the local moneylenders exploit many times before the interventions due to such essential requirements for their own livelihoods.

About 40 % loans are given for consumption purpose such as marriage, disease, schooling, construction and repairing of their home of festival etc before the intervention. These loans were taken by local money lenders.

As per the analysis about 10 % loans were given for taking up other micro enterprises such as opening local shop, bangle shop, and wooden shop.

SRI (System of Rice Intensification) interventions:

 As per strategic decision of UPSRLM, SRI interventions have been introduced  in three districts with the  support of Jeevika Bihar (National resource organisation for UPSRLM) , out of which Allahabad is one the district. Khiwli Kala village under Allahabad district also selected for SRI intervention. About 65 women engaged from 15 SHGs and more than 2.5 hectare land used in SRI intervention, which is the highest among all other districts selected for SRI intervention.

Five pragatisheel mahila kisan (progressive women farmer)- A kind of community cadre  selected for SRI intervention in the village, who learn from Jeevika Bihar village resource person and supported other groups of other area as a resource person. Only technical support and  konoweeder – a kind of agricultural equipment, which is used for weeding purpose are given from the project of free of cost.

Confidence, happiness of smiling face has been clearly seen in Kusum Kali, who counted 24 tiller/kalla from one plant after 26 days of transplantation, which is the highest in the entire village.

About 186 women also adopted vegetable cultivation, which are taken on experimental basis during the SRI interventions.

Convergence with line department:

“Kranti Aajeevika gram sangathan” a Village organisation took benefit of Agricultural department scheme called “custom hiring centre/farm machinery bank in June 2015, in which they purchased tractor, cultivator and others equipments the total cost of the project is Rs 100000, in which they get subsidy 80 % from the Agriculture department, 10 %  loan from bank and rest 10 % managed from their own corpus and took loan from their SHG.

A lot of discussion happened among members of VO on how to manage and run this custom hiring centre, now ultimately they successfully managed it and get benefits within 15th month time of span.

The total income from the farm machinery bank is about Rs. 92257, where as they did expenses on labour, maintenance, diesel, etc is Rs 70165 and total received amount from rental of equipments from SHG members and others farmers is Rs. 162422.

10-15  SHG members/family members also engaged in services sector such as medicine shop, Ration shops, general shop etc from taking loan from their SHG members.

This village also selected as a “Lohiya Village” a kind of model village by the state government in financial year 2014-15.  “Lohiya Awas” is also one of the schemes, in which a small house of two room one porch, solar light etc (total Rs. 165000) will be provided to a houseless or family in living shelter on the basis of predefined criteria. About 40 women from the SHGs have been benefited from the scheme followed by awareness building on this scheme and raising issue in gram sabha meeting.

Summary of outcome:

  • About 56% of total member’s able access to loan from their SHG.
  • SHGs distributed loan on the basis of their capital. The total amounts of loan distributed by SHGs are ranging from Rs.18300 to 70500.
  • Total 589 times loan given by 31 SHGs, loans are,-ranging from 15 to 25 times.
  • About 35% loan given for consumption purpose, 20% for agricultural purpose, 15 % for taking agricultural land on rent, 15 % for repayment of old debt and 15 % for other micro enterprise activities.
  • 67 women members adopted new method of paddy cultivation called SRI, where as 181 farmers doing vegetable cultivation.
  • About 40 families from SHGs got benefited of Lohiya Awas @ Rs. 165000 per family.
  • Signature and functional literacy rate also enhanced up to 65 %
  • One village organisation also benefited from agriculture department scheme called custom hiring scheme and get Rs. 8, 00,000 subsidies from the department.’
  • Women form these groups also participating in “PRI” meetings and raised their issues.
  • Enrollment of primary school also enhanced in the village and members of SHG and village organisation also discussing education and sanitation issues in their monthly meeting.

   Learning:

  • Role of community cadres in formation and strengthening of community institutions are increasing day by day, which is found to be one of the key factors towards sustainability of such empowerment processes.
  • Continuous effort towards convergence with line departments and enabling on these institutions to avail such scheme are found to be one of the building blocks to the overcome the poverty.
  • Regular capacity building of these institutions through training, exposure visits and their own meeting, besides continuous hand holding by dedicated professional staff and through community cadres are key factors of collective empowerment process through building such community of institutions.
  • Enhancing problem solving capacity through facilitating them in addressing their own issues followed by collective discussions it in their own meetings and shared responsibilities on assigned tasks by the instructions are the key factors of strengthening.

 

 

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