Monday, March 30, 2015

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) organized to build rapport, elicit support, information and participation of the women SHGs in their own development under SG/OFI Project.


SHG-PRA Conducted in Dasilnaickanoor SHGs by Vanitha,Coordinator of SEVAI SHG project.

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) organized to build rapport, elicit support, information and participation of the women      SHGs in their own development under SG/OFI Project. Women Self Groups were formed in the Watershed area of Thottiyapatty and Dasilnaicknaoor clusters under SG/OFI/SEVAI projects as the SHGs are important because they expand knowledge base, try to bring about changes in their attitudes and impart new skills and build upon our existing skills. The project coordinator organized a Participatory Rural Appraisal(PRA) of women SHGs in  Dsilnaickanoor and the outcome of this Participatory Rural Appraisal(PRA) for women groups were: Poverty is not just material deprivation but a continuous process of denial of choices/rights/opportunities, discrimination, disparity, domination, displacement, de-humanization etc. Participatory techniques aim to ‘break the silence’ of the poor and disadvantaged sections, recognize the value of popular collective knowledge and wisdom and legitimize the production of knowledge by the people themselves. Alleviating poverty does not end with meeting individuals’/people’s material needs. People including the very poor have to be empowered socially, economically and politically. This is best done as communities and not as individuals. Every human being has tremendous potential in herself. This hidden potential in the poor can be unleashed if the right environment is provided. As an individual, the poor are voiceless, powerless and vulnerable. By bringing them together as a homogenous collective, they have tremendous strength. The practice that is presented is a “Community Development” approach. The very poor members of a community are organized to form Self Help Groups. The entire community plays a role in selecting the poorest households among them using criteria that they themselves develop - aided by a Facilitator. 15 to 20 members from these poor households and from the same socio-economic background form a Self Help Group. This approach normally works well with women. Meeting together each week and a weekly saving by the poor members are two basic steps. The meeting together gives each member a new identity”. The PRA outcome was thoroughly discussed .The poor women who have thus far been voiceless and powerless leading to a sense of hopelessness, soon realize that they are no more alone. They start seeing a new meaning and purpose to life. They start sharing their problems in the group and social issues are discussed. A new relationship of trust and togetherness develops in contrast to the former state of loneliness. The process of “Social development” is initiated. The weekly
PRA Debriefing with the community leaders
saving - however small it may be - brings in a financial discipline in the members. Once they have made a commitment to save and start at it, they push themselves to work more and raise more resources to keep their commitment. It develops in them Economic development” process. Under this project a lot of Capacity Building inputs are provided to the individual members as well as the groups and their leadership qualities are developed. The whole process is slow and no spectacular results are seen immediately. The conventional entry point to a poor community is through the acknowledged leaders. Very often, the very poor within the community are left out in this development process. The members of the community are facilitated to carry out PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) exercises like Social Mapping and Wealth Ranking. This helps them identify the poorest among them based on criteria developed by the community themselves. The poorest members of the community are invited to form Self Help Groups. Although the people are very poor, their inborn potential to manage their lives have to be brought out. This is a process, with the right approach, it is possible and it works. The practice touches the root causes of poverty. The basic characteristics of a Self Help Group, which is the primary unit of the People’s Institution, are: Informal association, Homogeneous in terms of socio economic condition, mainly for the poor. The SHGs are Non Political and promotes Voluntary participation, Rotational
PRA Walk and village observations
leadership, Affinity among members, the members bound by mutual trust, respect and affection that support one another, Participatory methods in management, Self help principles, Mutual support, Continuous capital building, Common interest in all activities, Bank account in the name of the group, Own rules and regulations, Bye – laws formed by the group members. Under this SG/OFI/SEVAI Project the functions of SHGs were imparted to women members and followed and the important functions are Regular weekly meeting. Regular saving, Credit management, Book keeping, Social action programs and Community action programs, Awareness and training. In the Self Help Group approach, a fresh awareness of the role of a family comes in. Families start taking care of their children according to their “Good for the Child”, this is what the family considers necessary and can sustain. The participatory approach emphasizes flexible learning, adaptable to the pace set by the learners/trainers and tailored to needs expressed by participants’ themselves.-Govin

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