Have you ever been to Zawar area in Udaipur? Probably not. Situated a few kilometres from the highway connecting Udaipur to Ahmedabad, Zawar has a difficult and hilly terrain, sparsely dotted with village cottages.
Suggapahari women were shaken to the core when news of countrywide lockdown reached their remote village in Kathikund block of Jharkhand. People who had some idea of COVID-19, opined in favor of the lockdown. But the women farmers had bigger concerns. How will they earn money now? No money means no food most of the times, as produce from the field is not always enough to feed the entire family. And without food, sustaining for an indefinite period of time is impossible.
If we had asked Jalso the same thing, just two years back, she would not have said the same. Her SHG, composed of members of 12-13 women members from the local tribal communities, had practically stopped functioning. Low capital, irregularities in saving and loan repayment had been plaguing the group for quite some time. Gradually the members lost their interest in the proceedings of Jay Maa Bhagbati SHG.
These were some of the most common answers we got while analyzing how the COVID-19 lockdown has impacted people in some of the far flung villages of north-eastern Jharkhand, also referred as Santhal Pargana. And even without conducting a survey one could tell that more than 70% of the rural poor depend on remittances to run their household expenses or to fulfill their aspiration of leading a ‘better life’!
PRADAN being the National Rural Livelihoods Mission Support Organization (NSO), has been supporting Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) since 2015. Apart from assisting farmers in developing vision, adopting approaches and strategies, and creating perspective plan around livelihoods we also provide technical and handholding support to the field teams by placing Community Resource Persons around Livelihood (L-CRPs). These cadres are selected, groomed, and placed in different blocks where PRADAN supports.
Seetabai and Balram stepped out to meet the Panchayat leader to ask when the land development work was going to start in their village. It being the end of spring in their part of Chhattisgarh, the mid-day sun of early-April was reasonably warm.
Sunita Mahato never thought, even in her wildest dreams, that a day would come when everyone in Asantaliya Panchayat would know her name, respect her, and would be eager to contact her. Farming has been in Sunita’s genes, being the daughter of a farmer and married to a farmer. Even when she first learnt and applied System of Root Intensification on her paddy field to witness a sea change in the yield, this thought that one day she would be a common name in every farmer-household of Asantalia was far beyond fathom for Sunita. It has been a few years since then. Sunita mastered various improved agricultural techniques, her fervor increased.
“We are here not for a gram of grain, it’s about our rights, about our entitlements. And if we have to fight to secure it, we mustn’t recede.” 70 odd women members from Jagriti Mahila Sangh of Dumarkudar village organisation of Bokaro district took this pledge three weeks back.