Working on finding scientific ways to increase the availability of water in villages through most of the year led to collaboration between various stakeholders, including the community, the forest department, the MGNREGA cell and PRADAN. The secret lay in inclusion, building trust and collaboration while working for a common goal.
Supporting the villagers with technical know-how, introducing them to new ways of conserving the more-than-adequate rainwater each year, tying up with government agencies and programmes not only led to alleviating poverty and malnutrition but also gave the village women the confidence to take on leadership positions in local bodies
From being docile and acquiescent wives, the women of Samnapur recognize their own strength and capabilities, and step up into the hitherto male-dominated arena of bidding for the role of tax collectors in the market, much to the disbelief of the men of their families and village
Making a tentative beginning at goat-rearing, the women of Unnatipatha Cheli Samiti taste success and cannot be held back. They now monitor the health of the animals and deal with the markets too; thereby increasing their confidence and decreasing their dependency on men.
Expressing her anguish at customs and cultural practices that are blindly followed, a young 14-year-old bride’s gut-wrenching questions remain unanswered: “Why does the world have so many expectations from women? Why do we have to listen to abuses all day, even after killing ourselves to match up?
As important as it is to identify and support viable livelihoods in villages, equally vital it is that issues of gender and sex, gender and patriarchy, and gender and violence are discussed in safe spaces such as SHGs, Clusters and Federations, helping women live lives of equality, dignity and freedom
Finding a new use for discarded plastic bottles, now a ubiquitous and deathly hazard to the environment, a little revolution is underway in a tiny block in Khunti district, where tribal farmers are using it to water their crops in an innovative way through machan cultivation, opening up possibilities of greening land that lies arid most of the year.
Initiating new techniquesin farming, the women of Samnapur have started taking the lead in agricultural practices such as introducing the cultivation of vegetables, growing paddy through SRI, going to the market to sell vegetables and asserting their identity as farmers in their families and in society, thereby bringing about asea change in the way they are perceived and in their confidence as decision- makers.