Utthan’s continuous contact with the communities it serves brought out that the immediate effect of the post COVID lockdown was loss of daily wages and inability to access basic food and nutrition needs. Utthan intervened to provide short term relief to marginalized communities across 228 villages. Its multiple interventions uptil date, have had a cumulative outreach to 44000 households directly.
Even in July 2020, 66% households in the communities we work, reporting ‘lack of money for food’ (Monitoring Rural Lives during the Pandemic, Gujarat data of a Nine State survey as part of a national coalition, Rapid Rural Community Response to COVID 19 (RCRC) we are part of, July 2020. Utthan data: 480/2001 HH, n= 16979HH.)
Utthan’s People to People Social Solidarity Enterprise model demonstrated post COVID, with Pagadiya women of coastal Gujarat Pagadiya fisher families (foot fishers, pag meaning feet) in in coastal Katpar village typically combine foot fishing in the near-shore areas, job work for rope contractors and migration into agriculture labour work for their livelihood. Climate change effects, frequent cyclones have impacted the catch which used to be available by wading in 7-10 kms. into the sea. Utthan helped 10 women of the Women Fisherfolk Farmers groups to set up their own small rope making units as against labour work for rope making contractors. This is providing a benefit of Rs.8-9/kg since women are able to directly sell in the block level market. These women entrepreneurs are engaging other members of the group as labour in this activity, implying that even these women have found wages within their village. The 10 women are planning to initiate collective sale for even better returns. “We used to go to Una, 150 kms. away for labour in cotton cultivation work for 4 months. Now we won’t need to.”
While we continue wait for the India disbursements to open, Women Federation leaders and he Utthan team continue their efforts. Every drop we believe will make the Ocean!
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