OFFICIALS GOT THE REAL PICTURE

Women told the gathering about difficulties they face in getting rations:

       
    Women-headed households find it hard to get ration cards in their names.
           Many shop owners refuse to give receipts for payments.
           Often, women on the ration vigilance committees are token representatives   
               who are not kept informed about anything.
           Sometimes women don't know about malpractices because they don't visit   
               the shops, their children usually go and buy the rations.
           Most of the women sarpanchas present and didn't know that they are   
               supposed to check ration stocks when they arrive. They simply sign the                  register when they are asked to.

Sayadbi, a shop owner from Naldurg explained difficulties faced by shop owners. While shop owners are supposed to have regular meetings with officials, these meetings rarely take place. So the shop owners don't have an opportunity to convey problems such as rations being in short supply, delays in getting stocks, low quality rations and transport costs!


EFFORTS TO IMPROVE ACCESS

LOCATING A ROLE FOR WOMEN'S GROUPS :
In 1998, Swayam Shikshan Prayog, an NGO working with women's collectives in 2 districts, began a systematic exploration of food security and rationing. The key questions for SSP were:


  
        
? How does the Public Distribution System function in rural areas?
          ? What are the problems people face with regard to accessing rations?
          ? How can women's collectives in rural areas intervene to address                            these problems ?
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Ration Dakshata Samiti
Each village has its own Ration Dakshata Samiti, or Ration Vigilance Committee which must monitor the functioning of the shops. The Committee can inspect shops at anytime and check the stocks, the complaints book. This Committee is also supposed to meet regularly. But, until women's collectives got involved, few people knew that such a committee existed. Those in the committee rarely met and were not really aware of how the Ration Dakshata Samiti could effectively monitor ration shops.

The first step was to meet rationing officers and shopkeepers to assess the functioning shops. The next step was to get officials to orient women on the rationing system. Then together with officials the women's collectives, The Ration Kriti Samiti and SSP worked out how women could be involved in monitoring ration shops.

 

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