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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-65: WOMEN AND WATERSHED DEVELOPMENT!

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The women of Villupuram village in Pedda Vadaguru mandal of Anantapur district were living in thatched homes and eking out a living on Rs.10-15 per day. In 2001, the APRLP watershed programme was initiated in the village. The women formed self-help groups and a village organisation. Each self-help groups had four committees:

1. Supervision Committee

2. Recovery Committee

3. Social Issues Committee

4. Bank Linkage Problems Committee

Be it cleanliness drives, construction of school buildings or other work, the women of the self-help groups participated voluntarily.  This was the result of awareness programmes conducted by the project staff.

The enthusiasm of the women was evident by their participation as members of the user groups. They planted 1,000 plants such as jatropha and tamarind on both sides of the road along the 2.5 km stretch from Virupapuram to Gutti Cross Road. A special account was opened in the name of the Varalaxmi women’s group and wages were paid by the user groups to the women who participated in this plantation work.
The women appointed one person for two years at a salary of Rs.2, 000 per month to care for the plants. During summer, the plants were watered by one self-help group every day.

The Gopala Swamy temple in the village owned ten acres of land. The women planted tamarind on seven acres of this land and on the remaining three acres they planted neem, jatropha and jamoon (Neredu). The
village organisation was permitted to take the income accrued from the tamarind trees after contributing some part to the temple and some to the gram panchayat.

Twenty acres of sandy land belonging to the government was lying unused. The user groups, despite discouragement from others used it to cultivate grass and maize for the cattle and sold it to the farmers. The village organisation was given Rs 80,000 by the project for NRM works and all the self-help groups participated in developing a farm pond.

Women in the village took ‘Ananta Mahila Raksha’ insurance for which each member paid Rs.100. Those who had children studying in the 9th and 10th or Intermediate classes, were given a stipend of Rs.100 as well as accident benefits. 

Women who had not ventured out of their homes began to participate in development activities and proved that their economic contribution is very important. Today they have constructed houses and are able to solve many different types of problems that confront them.  Tulsamma, a member of a user group was invited to Warangal district as a resource person to strengthen self-help groups in Raghunathapally.
She was paid Rs.250 per day as an honorarium.

The women’s self-help groups and village organisations have provided opportunities for women to grow and have proved that women, far from being helpless, can actually be instrumental in taking forward the process of development.

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