Koraput (Orissa) With the support of UNICEF some Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have turned the world around for the tribal women of Lataput. All that was required was a bit of guidance and now they are independent with a secure future ahead of them.
Lataput, is a remote village in the Dasmantpur block of Koraput inhabited by 50 Kondh tribal families. About 60 km from the district headquarters, the road dips and curves during the one and half hour journey. More than 20,000 rural families live there of which almost 90 per cent are Below the Poverty Line (BPL). It has a high poverty rate, and low sanitation, immunization and other health indicators.
When the tribal women first heard about the Self Help Group (SHG), their reaction was indifferent. But they couldn't ignore the proposition, as they were in desperate need of a regular income.
So a group of nineteen formed a SHG named 'Thakurani' in 2004. But lack of experience and proper guidance caused the SHG to wind-up after only a year of its formation.
Totally disappointed, the women returned to work as daily wage labourers, until a UNICEF team identified the SHG during their village-planning programme in 2005. Subsequent UNICEF meetings with ‘Thakurani’ group members motivated them to restart their SHG. They were advised to start a brick production unit.
With some initial help and guidance from UNICEF officials, their life has now taken a new turn And they now earn much more than they used to as daily labourers.
"During our village planning process we identified the SHG," said Biranchi Paikarai, Dasmantpur block -coordinator of ANKUR (a programme working for the empowerment of women). “At that time the SHG was defunct. We motivated them to restart, and launch a cement brick production unit.”
"The ‘Thakurani’ group was given training in brick making," he added. “Initially all the raw materials required to make cement bricks were supplied by the District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM). They were provided with 200 bags of cement, 10 trucks of sand and 10 trucks of stone chips. They were also provided five sketches to make the bricks.”
Once the SHG started making bricks in March 2006, it has never looked back. It now makes about 500 bricks a day and supplies it to different schools for building toilets, with the help of DWSM.
The SHG has also opened a bank account at the Utkal Gramin Bank of Dasmantpur. Each member earns about Rs. 3,000 per month.
"The steady income I now get was beyond my imagination some months back," admitted Kandhuni Jani, secretary of the SHG. “Now I am able to meet the household expenses of my family. Most importantly, I have got a regular income source round the year. Today my family has the security of two square meals a day.”
The men folk, mostly daily wage workers, recognize their women's contribution and regard them with more respect now. The women’s say in the household decision making has consequently increased. Today the tribal women of the group feel much more secure looking at the future, empowered by their ability to earn some extra income.