SEWA in Uttarakhand
Since 2006, SEWA Bharat has mobilized 24,200 informal women workers across Almora, Dehradun, Mussoori and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand. SEWA Uttarakhand is comprised of women in the hospitality sector, farmers, vendors, and artisans who collectively work together to economically and socially transform their communities.
- Members developed a women owned and managed agriculture cooperative in 2013
- Over 80,000 bank accounts have been opened in remote, previously unbanked areas through a banking correspondent model
- Relief support given to 2,000 flood affected families in Rudraprayag in 2013
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: Agriculture Production
The hilly conditions of Uttarakhand limit mobility and livelihood options for women. Agriculture sustains most families, but exploitative middlemen dominate the industry. Women are often paid low and inconsistent rates. Despite working on the land throughout production, women do not receive benefits or control over the land due to male ownership of land. SEWA Bharat’s members market and sell their goods directly to the customer to circumvent exploitative practices of middlemen. Additionally, women members are connecting to training to build their technical and business capacities, so that they can sustainably develop their own businesses and diversify their incomes.
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. This cooperative has since grown across Almora and is managed and comprised of women farmers who have taken control of their economic activities. Recently after training, farmers have expanded production to high value crops, such as quinoa and tulsi.
- Employs 680 women farmers across 27 villages
- 350 shareholders in the company
- Products: chili, turmeric, coriander, quinoa, tulsi, and brahmin
Training for women farmers
SEWA Bharat has been collaborating with professional 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. These trainings range from technical skills, such as agricultural and marketing, to soft-skills, such as leadership and management.
Trainings and skill development:
- Agricultural trainings: Organic certification, manure production, water tank installation
- Herbal Research and Development Institute led training on tulsi and quinoa production
- Microfinance and micro-enterprise
- Training of Community 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 ensure that women are receiving a fair price from middlemen and increases their bargaining power.
- 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’.
- 83,056 savings accounts opened
- 1,433 loans distributed
- 10,543 participated in SEWA-SBI awareness raising
All numbers are cumulative up until 2016
Through the SEWA-SBI financial inclusion project, poor women from Uttarakhand have been empowered with financial skills. Bank saathis are local women who deliver banking services straight to the community and serve as financial literacy trainers. Since bank saathis come from the communities that they work in, they understand the needs of the communities and have a strong rapport with their customers.
A local cadre of SEWA Bank saathis serve as customer service points (CSPs). During the first phase of this initiative, CSPs used a mobile point of sale (POS) machine to provide traditional banking services at the customers’ doorsteps. These POS machines used bio-data (finger prints, voice recording, and photographs) and mobile banking solutions to provide secure and instant service delivery. However, in 2014 CSPs began opening kiosks to serve their customers. These kiosks act as banking centers where customers can access services like traditional brick and mortar banks and ATMs. Each CSP owns and operates the kiosk within the community and customers can avail services by visiting their local kiosk. 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 those who need them.
SEWA in Dehradun
Initial organizing in Dehradun began in 2007. 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, deliver, and meet the needs of women in the informal economy.
- 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, promoting communities with healthier and safer environments
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: 46 SEWA youth were connected to government training programs
- RSBY scheme: 482 women registered for health insurance
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
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
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.
- 318 SHGs with 2,452 women members in 2016
SEWA Bharat is constantly looking for new, innovative project opportunities. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to partner with us.