Press Release

Sakhi Samvad Sammelan

Samkhiyali, Rapar Taluka, Kutch District
20th January 2004

It is three years after the Gujarat earthquake on 26th January 2004 a time to look back and move forward.

Over 600 members of women's savings and credit groups, from 115 villages of Jamnagar and Kutch districts in Gujarat and the states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu came together for a sakhi melava held on 20th January 2004 at Samkhiyali, Kutch.

Women members of Savings and Credit Groups, Gram Panchayat members, Sarpanchas, leaders of Osmanabad Federations, and leaders from Mahakalasm, Tamil Nadu were shared their experiences of beginning by setting up savings and credit groups and reaching path of development.

Well-wishers of the women included J.P. President, Education Officer, D.H.O, Unit Manager WASMO, Joint Commissioner, Women and Child Welfare Gandhinagar, Professor, E.D.I, Project Director DRDA, Grameen Bank Manager Amran, General Manager, NABARD, Jamnagar and General Manager, NABARD Bhuj.

Kantaben, Federation leader, Maharashtra shared her 10 years of experience in dealing with development issues in general and specifically in health, water and sanitation, livelihood and governance issues. She explained how women got a status at home, society and in village decision-making process.

Kasturaben, Mahakalasm leader, Tamil Nadu “Our group have Rs.1,00,000/- as saving and our Federation turnover is 1 crore rupees. Our federation is now running medicinal plants of herbal medicines. We support the women in their daily needs through the credit card system.”

Sailendra Kumari Zala, UNFPA, Kutch spoke about problems in health and education concerns of adolescent girls and women and how they should reduce their problems through the programs by women’s groups and the organisations.

Naviben Subhbhai Rajput, a young woman from Nagpur is a very active member of a Savings and Credit Group and is very eager to learn. She went to Dhrangadhra to attend the mason’s training programme and learnt about the low-cost earthquake resistant technology and retrofitting. She then put this knowledge to use in rebuilding her own house.

Just as the post earthquake reconstruction activities emphasized the need to adopt new and appropriate technologies, the Savings and Credit Groups have encouraged women to be economically self reliant. Women are now aware of the techniques involved and materials needed in making their houses earthquake resistant. Not only do they feel confident, they are able to mobilize resources and pay attention to their immediate needs and those of their villages.

After the massive earthquake in Gujarat in January 2001, SSP has implemented a community-led reconstruction and development across 115 villages in Kutch and Jamnagar districts. Today, in these two districts, SSP partners with over 180 women’s self-help groups with 2,939 members. SSP team and leaders of experienced women’s federations from Maharashtra have assisted in building capacities of women’s groups on retrofitting technology, housing construction, setting up federations and enterprises.

Today, through 22 Mahiti Kendras, women are monitoring health centres, schools, ration shops, drought relief and poverty programs. Strengthening Gram Sabhas through community planning and making Gram Panchayats more accountable are twin objectives of SSP’s intervention. Information campaigns, demonstration villages and training of elected members are key activities.

Naseem Sheikh
Field Coordinator
Swayam Shikshan Prayog

For more information contact:
Naseem Sheikh
Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Rapar
Tel: 02830-221540, 09825686147