Success Stories Loka Kalyan Parishad
1. Maa Santoshi Self Help Group was formed with 12 women members in 2008 in the Jamna (Labhpur, Birbhum).Except the dwelling houses provided to them under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY, these women had no other asset and were totally dependent on income from daily labour, which was not at all assured always. With LKP by their side, their moral was high and they were motivated to do something by their own. They received training on rearing of poultry birds, preparation of community vegetables garden and other activities. The Gram Panchayat also extended supportive hand to their determination.
At the first instance, each member of the group received 10 chicks of the RIR variety through SHG cluster. They have been successfully rearing these birds and also multiplying and selling in their locality. This has enhanced their own income and at the same time encouraged their neighbours to take up such activities for their benefits also. Animal Resources Development Department of the Government has also extended support to this Group. It has been estimated that from this activity, each member’s net income is about Rs.5400/- per annum.
This is not the only activity of this group. The Jamna Gram Panchayat has permitted this group to prepare vegetable gardens in some public land and planted trees on the fallow land along the road. Each member harvested about 3 Kgs of vegetables for nearly 270 days a year. Taking Rs 6/-per kg. the average selling price, and total expenses (cost of seeds and fencing etc.)Rs 800/-per year, the net income per family works out to be Rs. 4860/- per year. Thus each member of the Maa Santoshi SHG now earns about Rs . 10,200 per year. The value of assets owned each of them, in the form of poultry birds, standing trees, preserved seeds etc. amounts to Rs. 18,700/-(photo).
2. Ber is a seasonal and wild variety of fruit that tastes sour and does not have any market value. But by grafting of appropriate variety, these can be turned sweet which can fetch good price in the market. The matter was advocated with the Mother Teresa Self Help Group and another group of Batiker GP (Illambazar Block, Birbhum) but they were not convinced. However, two of their members, Hamida Bibi and Radharani Bagdi agreed to try this and buds from improved varieties were grafted on four Ber (two each) plants in the early part of 2008. These plants started bearing fruits by the end of 2009 though initially production was small. From the subsequent years each plant started producing about 60kg. of sweet Ber which is sold at the rate of Rs.50/- per kg, and as a result, these two women are now earning about Rs.6000/- annually. This has created ripples in the area. At present 31 more families have taken up this activity.(photo)
3. Fallow common property as bank for landless.
97 women from landless agrarian families formed 10 SHGs at Hansra, Brahmandihi & Srirampur villages of Mangaldihi Gram Panchayat. They obtained user right of canal side stretches for raising Agro-forestry through sharing agreement of timber trees harvested in the ratio of 75:25 with the Gram Panchayat.
Throughout these 8 years, they availed of tree fodder and fuel wood (through pruning, pollarding & thinning) which amounts to Rs. 15,58,000 (average income Rs.16,016).
This year, the grown up plants were felled and sold out at Rs. 12,69,228. Rs.2,11,540 being the cost of harvesting, processing and marketing was paid to local contractors. As per agreement Rs. 2,64,422 (25%) deposited to Gram Panchayat’s bank account and the rest amount of Rs. 7,93,266 equally shared by the SHG members (Rs.8,178/member).The income of each member came to about Rs.24,194.
4. A cluster with 22 women of the Jamna GP, Labhpur Block of Birbhum district named Nitya Sangha, has been felicitated by the West Bengal Government (Chief Minister) on 7.5.12 for their contribution in community development. The group was awarded 2nd prize in Birbhum district and was presented with a sum of Rs.10,000 and an appreciation certificate. 21 members in 3 batches were involved in receiving training on tailoring at the cluster. The group has also been able to acquire a sum of Rs, 840000 ( Rs. Eight lakh forty thousand) from the DRDC for their own space. The groups have regularly drawn up plans and presented it in the Gram Sansad meetings and had it sectioned. When asked about their marketing strategy for tailored materials, the women pointed out that their market was the local people of the GP. They were trying to create an alternative market at the door step of the community. The leaders also mentioned that they are aiming to strike a deal for getting the job of preparing school uniforms for all the primary schools in the GP.
This group has taken up the mantle of community development. The presence of such a strong group has resulted in the improvement of the quality of life in the GP. For instance, the VECs are all functional. The number of drop outs is being reduced to zero drop outs. Because of close monitoring, the ASHA workers have become active. They have become a force to recon within the community. Women have found their support among the members of the group. Women who are not members of any SHG come to this group for support against domestic violence, early marriage and other gender related issues. The leaders of the cluster said that their status in the family was improved. The women said that husbands and other members of the family were initially opposed to the idea of their joining the group. Some also faced resistance from the family also. But these women held their ground and continued their active participation in the groups. The women were also instrumental in forcing the alcohol dens in the village to close down. Today, not only the family members but also the entire GP hold them in high esteem.
5. Tribal women of Chitmu I Sansad of Chitmu GP of Purulia had been facing problem since the tube wells in their locality was not functioning and no one took any initiative in repairing the tube well. At last the local women got together, met the BDO and submitted an application for repairing it. Within 2 days, a tube well repairing unit was sent by the BDO and the tube well was repaired. This caused a ripple in the women’s groups in the area and acted as a tremendous moral booster for these women.
6. On 8.9.12, members of SHGs in Mechpara Sansad (No.2) of Kalchini block of Jalpaiguri district, began a ‘ School Bhoro” (School Enrolment) Movement. 70 children who had dropped out from L.M. Pradhan Memorial High School were readmitted in the school. Members of Astha, Anchal, Muskan, Chandni and Sitara SHGs initiated home visits in every para (neighbourhood) and identified the drop out students. They spoke to the parents of these children and convinced them to enroll their child back to school. On a prefixed day all the parents assembled with their children and got them re-enrolled in the school.
In order to encourage their efforts, the headmaster of the school awarded the SHG members with certificates and trophies. On the next day, in the sub-cluster meeting, the leaders of the above mentioned groups discussed about MDGs and their efforts to ensure primary education for all.
7. A Story of Self belief and sustainability
Hopen Buru & Marang Buru Self Help Groups
“…Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection...”Rabindranath Tagore
Women self help groups of a small tribal neighbourhood of 35 families in a Sansad of Batikar Gram Panchayat of Birbhum district set an example for other groups to follow. A poor Sansad where the livelihood of the people was dependent on fishing and share cropping, people often used to borrow money at high rate of interest from the money lenders. With the encouragement and hand holding by LKP in 2004, the women of these Gram Sansad came together to form 2 SHGs- Marangburu & Hopenburu Self help Groups. In 2005, the SHGs started raising saplings in nurseries. Along with it the groups were also trained in producing natural organic fertilizers. The Gram Unnayan Samiti of the Gram Sansad came out to assist them also. In 2006, 20 members of these 2 groups received 200 chicks from the Gram Panchayat. Each member took 10 chicks and reared them. Annually, each chicken produces 200-220 eggs. A few eggs were consumed by the members and the rest were sold off. Chicks produced by these hens were reared and some were also sold. The groups were also involved in pisciculture. They not only took lease of the ponds under the Gram Panchayat but also entered into an agreement with private pond owners by taking lease of the ponds against payment of Rs, 33000 for 3 years.
Annual Income of the group and each member of the group from various activities
Group Income from Kitchen garden – Rs. 14200
75 Kg of fish was consumed by the group members.
Individual income for fish rearing and selling- Rs. 10,833
Individual income from chicken rearing- Rs. 8760
Individual assets of every group member
10 ducks- 10xRs.150= Rs.1500
6 hens- 6xRs.150= Rs.900
115 trees planted on roadside-100x75%=Rs.8625
2 pigs- Rs.6000
Income from 9 fruit/vegetable bearing trees- Rs.1000
8. When women unite….A SHG endeavor
A. In 2003, women from 55 poor families of Batikar sansad, Batikar GP of Birbhum district were motivated by the Gram Unnayan Samiti to mobilize into self help groups. In 2005, with the support of LKP and the GUS, these groups decided to explore the possibilities of grain collection in the form of grain banks. Initially, 330 Kg. of grains was collected. In 2008, the grain banks were made open to people outside the Gram Sansad. In 2011, the amount of grain in grain bank has gone up to 26 quintal 17 kgs. The Group’s saving from this has been 2023 kgs. The Group’s earning from the sale of 11 quintal is Rs,7000.
B. In 2009, after repeated discussion and with technical support from LKP, Golapbagan Primary School (in Mangaldihi Gram Panchayat, Ilambajar Block of Birbhum district) decided to give its 3 cottah of land to the SHG of women for kitchen gardening. It was also decided that the school would buy the vegetables for mid day meals. Various vegetables were planted. In 2011, 90 kg of yam was produced. Usage of chemical fertilizers was almost stopped. The school buys 2-2.5 kg of vegetables 20 days a month. With the support of the Gram Panchayat, flowers have also been planted.
9. When there is a will, there is a way
When faced with difficulties, people tend to react in 2 ways-some give up and some fight the odds by innovating. Some villagers and Janani SHG of Wangda sansad of Joypur Gram Panchayat in Joypur block of Purulia district decided to do the latter. Hunger and poverty were part and parcel of the lives of these 10 women of the group and fellow villagers. In Bnashbere area of the sansad, there was a considerable area (9-10 bigha) of plane land in between fortified land. There was a waterfall in this area. But neither the land nor water could be utilised. With the help of the SHG, these men constructed a 30 feet dam with stones where the water could be collected. Water thus stored is now being used for farming in 7-8 bigha of land. This is a unique example of what the SHG members can do on their own even without the help of the government.
10. This story is based in Dulami neighbourhood of Barudi sansad of Tatuara Gram Panchayat in Jhalda 2 block of Purulia district. This is a very poor neighbourhood that has a majority of minority and tribal families living. The women in the family are busy earning a livelihood through bamboo basket and tobacco making. In fact women have to work long hours to make ends meet, and do not have time to enquire about what happens in the ICDS and the quality of services provided there. Following repeated awareness programmes with the SHGs here by IEC staff, Adivasi Agragami Mahila Samity, Dulmi Adivasi Mahila Samity and Ma Santoshi Mahila Samity became active and decided to take stock of the situation prevailing in the ICDS centres. When members like Budhni, Durga and Sanjati visited the ICDS centre, they found that the ICDS staff was distributing stale boiled eggs to the children. Angered by what they saw, they went back and mobilized other mothers and decided to meet the Social Welfare official and register a complaint. However, the ICDS staff met the women and tendered their apology and promised never to repeat the mistake. The women took control of the situation and arrived at an understanding with the ICDS on the following issues: a) Regular attendance of the ICDS staff has to be maintained; b) Ensure that children and pregnant women are given nutritious and freshly cooked food; c) pre primary education has to be imparted; d) quality of the other services at the ICDS has to be ensured.
11. LKP has been working in Surun I Gram Panchayat which is a backward minority Muslim locality. Following detailed discussion with the groups on various government entitlements, the sub cluster women leaders of Damdolio sansad decided to take matters in their own hands when it came to misappropriation of food distribution through the public distribution system or the nearest ration shop.
In one of the meetings the allotment provisions by the State Government was distributed and discussed by LKP. Following the meeting, 15 members from 5 self help groups from the sub cluster decided to meet with the ration shop dealer and discuss the matter. When they produced the government allotment order to the dealer and questioned the reason for non availability of materials, the dealer abused them and sent them away. The women refused to give up and called a meeting with the villagers and discussed the issue. This time they also involved the men in their village. Dissatisfied with the unavailability of subsidized goods and the behaviour of the dealer, they decided to protest. Nearly 100 women and men got together, raised money for their travel and decided to give a deputation against the ration shop dealer to the Food Supplies Officer. As a result of this protest, the dealer was suspended for three months. The current dealer is very courteous with women and even explains them the reason fore non availability of goods.