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  • Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency

    A Govt. of Kerala Undertaking

Success Stories

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Harnessing the opportunities of Women initiatives: A case of Women Headed Beneficiary Group

Back Ground 

Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right and it is highly essential for reducing the drudgery among the women (freedom from women and girls from spending long hours fetching water) which ultimately resulting in the empowerment of women. Accessibility of water very nearer to the homestead will reduce the distance travelledfor the women and girls to walk for collecting water and will get more time for other activities, including productive homestead activities, childcare, agriculture and income generation. Generally, it is noted that women in the home are mainly responsible for collecting water for meeting the drinking and cooking needs of the household.Especially, in Kerala rural women have been suffered a lot due to the feeling of powerlessness and lack of decision-making capabilities in their family and society. 
Jalanidhi Project was able to attract a large number of women in the beneficiary committees and give them adequate opportunities to become champions of water supply activities. Inclusive approach of the project and high impact information, education and communication activities in participatory approaches, demand generation, skill development programmes has helped the women to evolve them as leaders. The women participated in the programme gets the opportunity to learn the process of implementation from the planning stage itself. Institutionalisation at the grass root level users has given the exposure for women to demonstrate their leadership, managerial skills. Participation in informed decision making gives them to open out their opinion in the public meeting and there by improved their courage to take up any developmental activities that needs outmost care in the implementation. In many of the beneficiary groups women are the financial managers and they established their skills in financial management with outmost financial propriety.
Institutional Development -  Kanichukulam Sudha Jala Vitharana Samathi

Kanichukulam Sudha Jala Vitharana Samithi is a registered society established under the Jalanidhi programme.

Kanichukulam Sudha JalaVitharana Samathi is located at the eastern part of the Madapilly GP in Kottayam district of Kerala, geographically featured with hilly terrain. The place were vehemently confronted acute water shortage in the pastfive years due the peculiarities of the area. Panchayathi Raj  and other missionaries were intervened many time for the providing drinking water and unfortunately those efforts hasn’t been successful. At this juncture the GP authorities had initiated steps for implementing Jalanidhi project . 76 households in the area come together and form a beneficiary group and a team of women emerged into the leadership of the group. This team is having an eminent  leadership (Executive members) initiated the whole project activities which completed on time. Most import features of the team executive members are house wives as well as few of themare labourers. Despite the team has effortlessly accustomed with the initial process of the planning and implementation arrangements of the project. The team was very vibrant, they gathered trust from the households and received greater acceptance of the people as resulted meticulous execution of the project with outmost efficacy and sincerity. Same time, indifferently the male population has manifest the reluctance to take up the responsibility for the execution of the project. 
Incredible Team of Executive Committee
The executive committee of the BG’s completely led by women members. Office bearers including President, Secretary, Treasurer and other executive members in the Kanichukulamsamithiware women.During the implementation of Jalanidhi Programme the team members got opportunities for evolving them as a cohesive team that demonstrate able leadership qualities. The executive committee followed a systematic practice in conducting regular executive committee and general body meeting. The active involvement and leadership of the office bearers helped for the successful completion of work and the ongoing progress of the schemes. It was learned the team member’sconfidence is remarkable and reflected in the Operation and Maintenance of the scheme. The team could bring the majority of the members of these BG’s participated in regular monthly meetings organized by the BG as a result of which women who never used to step outside the four walls of their home become self-dependent and the leaders of the group. Observed the clear transformation of the members in the BG could enable not only the BG executive but also the women members of the BG come forward and make them self-dependent and self-employed. 

Major Outcomes

1. Improved quality of life and saving of time
BG shared the pre and post experience of the Jalanidhi programme that the project has had significant impact on their quality of life as paved the way to reduce the time for fetching water. In months of scarcity, which sometimes extends to 3-4 months a year, women had to travel lot of distances to fetch water. Out turn of the project, saving of time inaccessing water for the household has been tremendous. BG members in Kanichukulam noticed that before the scheme came to their area, they had to wake up very early, fetch and store water for the day from their private or neighbouring wells and then peruse for work and the same thing has to be repeated in the evening; howeverthey areable to much time for leisureand get for sufficient time to go for other engagements. Now they are happy and enjoying the freedom and remains to think off for perusing income generating activities.
2. Happinesstoward receiving services and assets: 
BG Members and team of executive committee reported that they very much satisfied with the nature and quality of assets created under Jalanidhi programme. The service delivery system of the scheme and the environment, expression of opinion, participation in the meeting, opportunities for decision making, Consultation and consideration of opinion in the meeting and complaintredressal mechanismbrought out the conducive atmosphere for supporting and strengthen the institutional system of the Beneficiary Group. BG members sincerely expressed the credibility for the ownership of created assets.  
3. Seclusion and Self-esteem
Previously, during months of scarcity, the people of Kanichukulam BG had to access the far awaypublic source despite having bathing and washing facilities at home. Some time they may carry back water for their girl children to bath in the privacy of their bathrooms. After the implementation of Jalanidhi helped them to created more privacy for bathing and washing in their own primaries. Obviously, it could build up self-esteem and dignity among the women in the area.  
4. Women’s Empowerment
The impeccable performance of the vibrant Executive committeemembers of Kanichukalam BG has also been able to mobilize a large number of women in the intra BG network and they have become ardent champions of the project in future. Unlike they have created a platform and an opportunity for emergence of strong local women leaders. For instance, annually they have conducted election for assigning the officer bearers in the General body. As their monthly meeting minutes itrevitalised that participation of the monthlymeeting, deliberation of meeting, ability of decision making, adopted modes operandi of the meeting in very systematic and outstanding. Ultimately Project helped for social mobilization of women by attending regular meeting conducted by BG’s and BG federation as resulted women get more space in the society.Women empowerment is the key component in mitigating poverty and other social problem.
5. Enhancement of the voice and choice of women
From the inception onwards social mobilization, creation of institutions and subsequent activities in the phases of the scheme cycle has beautifully executed by the different tenured executive team members and ensured the women’s participation in the institutional platforms. They have claimed how women’s needs are to be addressed at the household level, as well as the community level. Furthermorethey have been successfully supported technical and managerial inputs to community level stakeholders, something they have been trained on and made responsible for. GP as well as implementing agency has enormously supported for the to enhance their capacities towards the strengthening of the institution.
6. Behaviour change and good health and hygiene practice
The project helps to maintain good hygiene and improved the health status of women beneficiaries and child. In terms of the service delivery, BG members in Kanichukulam seemed satisfied with the quality of assets and services provided, including the duration and quantity of water supply and quality of toilets supported under Jalanidhi. There were also no complaints with the location of these assets within the household created under Jalanidhi programme.
7. Opened new window for knowledge and understanding.
This project helped them to gain more knowledge about the society, their duties & responsibilities, Various Acts and Laws protecting women, Government projects and how to be a good social worker in their living area. The project has open up a new window for opening to the non-working women to earn money by pump operating work, monthly meter reading process and collection of monthly bill. Etc.
Future Plan
The BG has a plan to mobilise funds from other sources with support of LSGD and other organisation. Kudumabsree provided enormous support to the BG and they promised them to take up skill development training to the BG executive members. Also BG has prepared a plan of action for starting joint venture income generating activities associating with maximum number of households. The preliminary steps such as proposal and area of operations have been finalised and approached for bank linkage. Moreover, BG executive committee members informed their willingness to be part of taking the role as plumbing and electric work. Also, team has shared the immediate necessity for the training of plumbing and electric work as a part of the resource pool to be utilised in the BG in future. On the light of the wide acceptance and trust developed by the team has to plan for contesting undependably few of the executive members into local body election without any party coalition.

Conclusion 

The team has specifically promote women’s participation in the grass root level promotion of the accessibility of waterand helped the house holds needs and for narrowing the gap that exists in the area in terms of access to water. Women empowerment guarantees equality at all levels—in decision making participation and development. It also helps ensure that women participate in and gain from such equitable involvement. One of the major achievements of Jalanidhi project is empowering the rural women to the main stream of the society. The last but not least the projects Capacity Development program at grass root level  meticulously demonstrated in the areas there by the BG members have immersed with Jalanidhi project philosophy. The strategies were focussed on the subject matter with capacities for mobilizing groups, creating demand, networking, skills on scheme planning and management, social monitoring, decision making, public involvement, change management and behaviour change etc.On the light of the kanichukulam case, Jalanidhi, helped the women to come forward outside the four walls of their home become self-dependent and the leaders of the society.