SEWA in Uttarakhand
Since 2006, SEWA Bharat has mobilized 10,170 informal women workers across Almora, Dehradun, and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand for collective empowerment.
- Women’s owned and managed producer’s cooperative set up in 2013
- 24,213 bank accounts opened in previously unbanked area through BC Model
- Relief support given to 2,000 flood affected families in Rudraprayag
SEWA Bharat has 1,600 women members in the flood-afflicted district of Rudraprayag. Women are engaging in SEWA Bharat’s relief and rehabilitation activities.
SEWA in Almora
Livelihood: spice production
The hilly conditions of Uttarakhand limit mobility and livelihood options for women. Agriculture sustains most families, but exploitative middlemen dominate the business. SEWA Bharat is helping women farmers market their goods and eliminate middlemen. Women members are connecting to training to build their technical and business capacities, so that they can sustainably develop their own businesses.
The SEWA Ekta Swahyata Sahakarita Cooperative
In June 2013, with support of SEWA Bharat, 125 women farmers set up their own SEWA Ekta Swahyata Sahakarita producer’s cooperative. The cooperative will source organic spices from approximately 1,000 SEWA Bharat women members.
- 125 share holder members
- 1,000 women farmers supported
- Production worth Rs. 1,27,000 in 2013
- Products: chili, turmeric, coriander
Training for women farmers
SEWA Bharat has been collaborating with profession and government agencies to deliver technical training for its women members to build their capacities, increase their productivity, and help them manage their own businesses
Trainings and skill development 2013:
- Agricultural trainings: Organic certification, manure production, water tank installation
- Microfinance and micro-enterprise
- Training of Trainers
- Value-addition through spice grinding and packaging
950 women farmer members have been organized into 85 producer groups in Almora. Producer groups enable women to share market information, pool their resources, and increase their bargaining power. Producer Groups hold monthly meetings to build leadership and managerial skills, ensure product quality and procurement and marketing, and to establish linkages with different Government agricultural schemes. Last year, SEWA Bharat helped women sell 11 quintals of chili sourced from 50 villages.
SEWA Bharat has linked women farmers with Reuters Market Light (RML) mobile technology that provides information on the market price of farmer’s produce on a daily basis. RML empowers women with crucial market knowledge so middlemen cannot exploit them.
- 754 women farmers have been linked to RML
In 2009, SEWA Bharat partnered with the State Bank of India (SBI) to increase financial inclusion of women in remote areas of Uttarakhand. The SEWA-SBI Business Correspondent model employs local women and gives them the technical capacity to bring banking services to previously ‘unbanked areas’.
- 12,292 savings accounts opened
- 11,921 no frill accounts opened
- 400+ loans worth more than Rs. 36 million
- Regular employment to 34 SEWA bank saathis
- 10,543 participated in SEWA-SBI awareness raising in 2013
Through the SEWA-SBI financial inclusion project, poor women from Uttarakhand have been empowered with financial skills. Bank saathis are local women carry out door-to-door banking service delivery. As bank saathis have risen from the community, they are sensitive to women’s need for social security, livelihood support, health services, and skill building and can therefore connect members with SEWA’s diverse development programs.
A local cadre of SEWA Bank saathis are appointed as customer service points (CSPs). Using mobile technology called point of sales (POS) machines, women CSPs go to remote areas and collect customer information through bio-data (finger prints, voice recording, and photographs). Villagers in remote areas then have access to SBI financial services like zero balance accounts, savings collection, cash withdrawal, remittances, and loan applications. The BC model also helps connect those on the margins with over 300 government schemes by acting as a portal to distribute entitlements to the needy.
SEWA SHGs consist of 10-20 women who financially support one another through monthly meetings, savings, internal loan disbursement and repayment. Through SHGs, women have first-time access to capital, reduce their dependency on exploitative moneylenders, inculcate the importance of savings, and build the financial credential to be linked to mainstream banks.
- 100 SHGs with 968 women members
- Total savings of Rs. 12,27,180
- Total loans worth Rs. 21, 58, 765 to fund livelihoods, business, health, and education
(as of end Dec. 2013)
SEWA in Dehradun
Initial organizing in Dehradun began in 2007, but SEWA projects and activities in this area have been re-started with vigor within the last few years. Currently, 1,570 informal women are members to SEWA in Dehradun.
Organizing and advocacy in Uttarakhand’s Capital
SEWA is a platform for informal women workers to bring their concerns to government and media attention. Through local and national level meetings, public demonstrations and campaigns, SEWA helps the Government of India understand and meet the needs of women in the informal economy.
- In 2013, nearly 100 SEWA domestic workers in Dehradun publicly gathered to bring their concerns to the forefront of local policy
- SEWA members in Dehradun successfully advocated local government for cleaner public restrooms in 2013.
- 7 aagewans
Women members and their families in Dehradun are being connected to government schemes for livelihood development, social security, and healthcare. Grassroots leaders have developed a close relationship with the Government of Uttarakhand’s State Urban Development Agency and other departments to facilitate scheme linkages.
- Livelihood linkages 2013: 46 SEWA youth connected to government training programs, 6 home-based women workers connected to the market
- RSBY scheme: 482 women registered for health insurance in 2013
SEWA Bharat’s microfinance program in Dehradun starts with organizing women into Self Help Groups (SHGs). SHGs are small, economical, homogeneous, affinity groups of rural poor who contribute to a common fund to be lent to their members as per the group decision
- 45 SHGs with 433 women members
- total savings of Rs. 18,40,940
- Total loans worth Rs. 29,95,674
- (as of end Dec. 2013)
SEWA in Rudraprayag
In June 2013, a series of devastating flash floods in Northern India claimed the lives of around 5,700 people – 95% of causalities happened in Uttarakhand. Not only were assets such as homes, farmland, and animals swept away, but livelihoods were also destroyed.
SEWA women responded with immediate relief work:
- Needs assessment with 2,000 families
- Distribution of blankets, solar lamps, water filters and relief materials to 2,000 families
SEWA Bharat is establishing two community resource centers in Ukimath and Agustmuni blocks of Rudraprayag. The centers will be based off of the SEWA Shakti Kendra (SSK) model. Each SSK serves as a base for flood-affected women and community members to access long-term rehabilitation support.
Four pronged approach
- Women’s community leadership
- Access to social security information and support
- Sector-specific livelihood promotion
- Technology and skill transfer