Women leaders led Drought Campaign

Swayam Shikshan Prayog in collaboration with Grassroots women leaders initiated the drought mitigation campaign from September 2015

Key message of campaign: Protect jan, jal, jangal, jamin & janawr    

During September SSP trained more than 100 leaders on drought resilience practices with support of agriculture scientist of KVK & agriculture officials. The training was focused on:

What kind of crops can be taken up during Rabi season to protect their milk animals & food security. How farmers can manage their water by using the protective irrigation methods for short-term crops to get income. As farmers are trained on the supplementary fodder which can support to maintain the health & milk production of animals. After training women reached 110 villages & disseminated the key messges upto 5500 farmers in four blocks of Osmanabad district.  As a result we observe that most of the farmers took surgam crop in Rabi season & small farmer with less water cultivated vegetables which brought some income in their hands.

In partnership with Zilla Parishad, Osmanabd, training was organized for community resources persons on drought prevention where 100 women CRP of Umed program trained on MREGS & Fodder management. After the training women leaders initiated & created labour groups to demand the work under MREGS and mobilizing farmers to take the water conservation structures to increase ground water table. Block level officials involved in sharing government programmes with women during the workshop. Women had participated in Baliraja chetana abhiyan to motivate farmers & reduce the stress in community during the drought. 20 women are part of the fund management at village level.

With partnership of Parbhani University, SSP has taken the UMED program in more than 50 villages in Osmanabad and Latur districts to spread the message on agri allied livelihoods for income and how to take care of milk animals in dry situations. SSP supported women from resilience fund to start the poultry & goat rearing business in villages where women are not having labour work for their survival. More than 300 women were started poultry business with small fund support.

As an intensive strategy to create some model work towards the drought mitigation, SSP took 20 villages of Kallam block and appointed Samvad Sahayak to work between government and community on drought prevention majors in last two months. Women are mobilizing farmers for short-term & long-term objectives of drought mitigation. They took the following actions under each objective.

Improve the access of work for landless labours & farmers

  • Women Samvad Sahayaks (Information Assistants) created awareness among community on how they can improve their daily wages with help of MREGS & its importance for famers.
  • SSP organized 335 landless labour group in 17 villages to improve the access of wages under MREGS & 175 women applied for new job cards for labour work.
  • 1010 women trained on goat & poultry business and women started the business with own money as well as government subsidy to start the business.
  • Under resilience fund SSP supported women to start their livelihoods around goat keeping & poultry

Promotion of alternate support fodder facility for animals

SSP and women leaders trained more than 2000 women farmers on Azolla & Hydrophonic fodder cultivation by adapting technical knowledge from KVK team. Hydro phonic trays made available in affordable rate. More than 1000 farmers started Azolla cultivation and 300 farmers started Hydrophonic fodder cultivation. Women keep continue training other farmers around their villages and sharing the knowledge & culture for Azolla preparation.

Awareness education & linkages for Water conservation and water management

Organised 50 farmers to take water conservation initiative on their farm with help of MREGS scheme
Mobilized 81 farmers for tree plantation on Bandha to improve the soil support the land fertility
Conducted awareness meetings on soak pit construction to increase the ground water table and reduce the health hazards. After mobilization 35 women started the work
Samvad Sahayaks mobilized farmers on water recharge technic and its importance for the water availability in their farm. 8 farmers did farm ponds and 19 farmers applied for well recharge under MREGS and 81 small farmers showed interest in recharge work if they get some fund support
Samvad Sahayaks also mobilized communities to take collective action for drinking water management & distribution.

Resilience fund support

In the last seven months Sakhi federation disbursed Resilience Fund among groups and women took short term action towards food & fodder cultivation, agri allied business and micro irrigation system for crops protection.

Women participation in Baliraja chetana committee

Women leaders created awareness on Baliraja Chetana Abhiyan and identified the real poor & needy people in the village for suicide prevention fund access. Now 12 women are sitting in fund management committee in villages.

Village micro planning for water conservation & drinking water management: SSP team lead the micro planning process in Kanerwadi and made detail plan on water conservation and livelihoods which Gram Panchayat will use for implementation with varies support from NGO & local government. During Kothala village micro planning, SSP team trained Samvad Sahayajs on micro planning by involving village leaders and women. Women traveled to other five villages and made their plan and supported to set the priorities, roles and actions.

Success initiatives:

  • Sonali & Pushapatai leading the Azolla trainings in cluster of villages
  • Govindpur Samvad Sahayak trying to demand and mange drinking water in her village
  • Malkaranja women started poultry business to insure the income
  • Through PRA all Samvad Sahayaks tried to link with GP and identified the problems & solution for drought mitigation
  • Women are leading the water conservation work in villages
  • Vashali and other eight women did farm ponds in Jawada and demonstrated the better water management & income in drought situation. “We have to become the role model we should not wait for government resources” Vaishali says.
  • Shedka dhanura women cultivated vegetables & fodder for income
  • Lalita from Fulwadi village started flower cultivation using drip irrigation in her one acre land
  • Archana Koli doing goat keeping and poultry business in Salgaradevti
  • Laxmi from Chivari did well in desilting soil for water conservation
  • Nagini Suresh Arade from Dhangar Wadi shifted the crop to floriculture with less water and earn good income in drought

Swayam Shikshan Prayog, April 2016


Leadership skills of Renu Devi

Renu Devi

Renu Devi is an inspirational leader in Chitta village. There are 400 houses belongs to poor dalit community. Bishnoi SHG started in 2009 have taken a journey of resilience since 2012. Finding local solutions for the problem of livelihoods and agriculture women groups taken the lead in doing cultivation of flood resistant varities. They have cultivated Dhanicha, Patwa, Maize and vegetables like Bindi, Parwal, Lassoon and Potato. The collective effort paved the way for taking 1 acre land on lease and invested 7000 rs. They got profit of 15000 from the 1st crop. This has motivated them to do different variety of crops. BALSK has facilitated and provided training on new agriculture practices.

Now they are concentrating on developing kitchen garden in every SHG members. By consuming good food, their health and nutrition of the children are improved. Renu Devi was the leading women in this initiative. “I changed myself after joining the SHG. Earlier it was very difficult to come out. Now we want to fight to get document of the land. We are landless and we want to fight to get the land for agriculture from government.” Renu Devi says. Women leaders are visiting Block offices and panchayat for demanding government programmes. They also fight against corruption involving government officials in distribution of seeds and agriculture tools. They caught the official red handed and forced BDO to take action against him on the malpractices in distributing seed to farmers. This was a small but significant achievement of women leadership.

“We are doing farming for good food and some income. We want to teach other community. Earlier we were covering our face and was not allowed to sit with men in any of the meetings. Now we discuss the issues in common, attend gram sabhas and raise our problem. This is a change happened in this village with women leadership.” Said Renu Devi

Collective action in agriculture

Imam Patti in Pratapganj Block in Supaul district is one of the least developed village belongs to Manhji community of Mahadalits. Majority of the people are very poor and vulnerable to climate changes and flood. They are mainly depend on agriculture related livelihood. Even they don’t own land, they do agriculture in lease land.

When the Resilience initiatives started in this village by BALSK, Jai Bhavani SHG which is strong have taken the lead in mobilizing community in finding a way to reduce the risk. When the groups received Community Resilience Fund (CRF) Rs 8000 from BALSK in 2015, according to their plan, each members invested Rs 800 each to to do collective agriculture. The total investment in the agriculture was 11200. They have decided to do vegetable and pulses as main crops. In the beginning there were only 4 women who started in 5 khatta land on lease. They have cultivated Maize to get some good income. After seeing the success and additional income from the agriculture, other members were also joined.

Gunjan Devi the group leader encouraged others to contribute money and labour share for this collective cultivation. In the 2nd time, they have cultivated Coli flower, bindi, patwa and sag. The profit from the 2nd cultivation was Rs 3000. They want to take some more land on lease and cultivate Dhaincha, Jute, and early crops that yield good result and use for firewood and fodder.

Form the profit of the cultivation, Gunjan Devi purchased a new tailoring machine and started tailoring along with the agriculture and group activities. This was a big change in her life. The groups are consuming the local food by cultivating more vegetables. “We are reducing the health expense by eating good food. Our expense has come down below 2000 a year,” Says Gunjan Devi. This initiative has reduced the dependency on outside market purchase and consumed locally grown good food.

Sakhi Melava

Sakhi Melawa is a platform for peer Learning and advocacy events where women leadership interact with local government to access resources and programmes in entrepreneurship and drought prevention practices.

In the event, women entrepreneurs and leaders share initiatives on climate change adaption practices in agriculture and its impact. New women groups get opportunity to learn new practices implemented by women groups in the villages. The leadership network build an environment in scaling up and strengthening the support with support of government departments and agriculture universities.

Experienced Women entrepreneurs from Sakhi network organized this Melawa for new women entrepreneurs on Energy, Health, Water, Sanitation and Agriculture based enterprises. More than 1000 women entrepreneurs participated in the Melawas organized in the month of March 2016 at Latur, Solapur, Nanded & Washim & Osmanabad districts in Maharashtra.

Role model women entrepreneurs from wPOWER program had shared their success as entrepreneurs in clean and green energy and how they have upgraded their existing small business by using the knowledge & handholding support from the Sakhi network.


Sakhi Network Melava at Walki Washim on 17th Mar 2016 brought together 149 women leaders with experience in agriculture, SHGs, preventive health programs and entrepreneurship. The Block Development Officer, Washim was present in the melava. Focus of the melava was on sharing information within the SSP’s Sakhi Network on our programs in relation to soil and water conservation programs. Government of Maharashtra has announced this week as Jal Jagruti Saptah because 22nd March is Jal Din (Water Day).

Information was also shared on how the women’s network acts as a platform for sharing successful business strategies, new opportunities, government schemes on health, nutrition, water and sanitation.


The Sakhi Network Melava was organized at Kalabar at Loha taluka in Nanded district 19th March 2016, shared experience in health, agriculture and entrepreneurship. More than 180 women leaders participated in the programme. Agriculture Officer, Loha was present in the melava. The melava was focused on sharing information within communities in relation to soil and water conservation, sustainable agriculture, one acre model, multi cropping, organic farming in vegetable cultivation, etc. The Agriculture officer announced that the government is ready to reach maximum schemes such as soil and water conservation to the women farmers, sustainable agriculture, etc.

Vanita More shared Dal processing unit where she process all kind of Dals according to the season  to get more income rather than selling tur to the market directly.


The Sakhi Network Melava at Solapur on March 15, 2016 brought together over 250 grassroots women leaders. The women leaders provided information on importance of collective strength of women. Emphasis on network creation of women was shared. Women entrepreneurs were encouraged to be a part of groups in their villages and SSP’s Sakhi network. Women’s Network which will be a platform for women entrepreneurs to share successful business strategies, new opportunities, access to government benefits and advocate on other issues.


The The Sakhi Melava was held at Latur on March 14, 2016. More than 200 grassroots women leaders and entrepreneurs participated in the event. They have shared their experiences and initiatives for the aspiring women entrepreneurs and put up exhibition stalls at the venue. Government officials gave inspiring inputs to the grassroots women participants on how their involvement brings value to rural development.

Women leadership and Network building initiatives

Before this training, I was not able to speak at home and keep my desire and thinking inside. But this training programme made me to speak, express my feelings and thoughts in front of others. Now I run my business very well and recognised as a leaders of change.”  – Surekha Patil from Musti village.

Surekha support other women in her village to take diverse crop which will increase the income as well food availability at home. She planted Moringa in two acres of land with proper plan and earn a good income as well as reduce the water usage. Group of women now monitors all the village resources which are available for community midday meal, health and aganwadi services.

Story of Savitri Patil from Dongoan village tells how she become Arogya Sakhi three years ago where she worked for pregnant women and families by offering home based care and guidance. “When I completed my training, I have to practice at home with my family and I detected my husband having high sugar. So we went to the doctor with my husband for checkup and doctor told me that you are doing a good job in identifying diseases. That words from the doctor increased my confidence. For the last three years I do health awareness & preventive testing in my community and earn some good money. At the same time, I also started cloth business and I earn Rs 10,000 every month from my both business.

Impact: More than 25 women from groups inspired by her work and started small business. She always guide and support them in their business activities. Due to this the business of Savitri and other women in the village has increased.

Rashida Sheikh from Tuljapur shared her experience on how shed decided her business product after participating in the training.

“When I shared my business idea with my husband and other family members all opposed my idea. But I decided strongly and started the business within six months. My earnings convinced my family and realized that there is a demand for the product in the local area. To strengthen my business I took Rs. 100,000 from SSK and increased the business. Now all family members are involved in the same business and employed 25 women in our production work. We are earning Rs 40,000 from the business and my total investment reached up to Rs 10,00,000.”

Savita Boaradkar from Kekethubra explained the importance of Savings and Credit Groups to support for small enterprises in her village. She support seven women to start business and all are doing small business for the last seven years.

As a big achievement, eleven women entrepreneurs from Sakhi Network honored by the Zilla Parishad, Osmanabad under Umed program for successfully running their business since two years and earning more than Rs 10000 monthly.

Block Development Officer (BDO) Badarge Sahib from Washim said that the women should be the part of larger business network and only these network can create great opportunity for business with low resources.

Vandana Wakudkar shared her experience about the community participation on Water & Soil conservation work which is impacted to 250 acres of land. Before this initiatives her village was depended on tanker supply for drinking water. To address water issues, they took different activities like Jal Saksharata Abhiyan, micro planning of water resources, conducting village gramsabhas etc. Shobha Goare said how women managed animal fodders in drought by applying new techniques and information on Azola & Hydroponic fodder.

Women leadership and advocacy with local Government

Sakhi Melawa events were used as an opportunity to advocate the role of women leadership and community initiatives in drought prevention practices which can be scale up through the government program & resources. In Latur, Washim, Solapur & Nanded women leaders invited the block development officers and agriculture officers to showcase how women are organized and working towards addressing drought in the villages by introducing various resilience practices. Women leaders interacted with government officials and explained how they are becoming leaders of change and advisors within their communities and effectively implementing drought mitigation initiatives. Women leaders demanded that government should value their resources and skills and involve them in local planning and monitoring spaces related to drought prevention programmes.

Osmanabad agriculture leaders traveled to drought affected districts and demonstrated women leadership roles are important in bringing changes in the villages and community. Partnership with government and realising women’s initiatives by government is another measure to scale up the practices by accessing resources, programmes and schemes.

Changes in Badayya Tola, Bettiah

Badayya Tola is a remote village in West Champaran district. Different religious communities are living in harmony and working collectively to improve their life situation. The village is close to Nepal border and there is a total neglect from government to reach any development initiatives in this village. They are so poor but have good unity among the groups.

Fakirana Sisters Society (FSS) mobilized the group in SHGs and provided training and exposure visits to the community. Sarjan Khattum, a poor women who took innovative step in harvesting crops. She has taken machine Zero tillage machine on rent and it reduced the work and money and got good income. Usually by doing labour she spent 2000 rs per khatta. She has reduced the expense to 1000 from this cycle. She has got 3000 rs as profit from Wheat using local seed.

Women groups received training from KVK, Madhavpur.

Prabha Devi another women leader is doing Potato and Maize in Makka in 10 khatta land. In the next cycle she is planning to do matter, tomato and brinjal.

“I got opportunity in learning from others, attending meetings and workshops. I also learned new agriculture methods like delayed and mixed cops and early varieties thru trainings.” – Prabha Devi.

Eleven women got 35 kg seed purchased from PUSA Agriculture University. They have diversified the cropping system. Instead of one crop earlier they now do cultivation of 3 to 4 crops in a year. They use Savarna Dhan for flood season and Rajendra Bhagavati for drought season. The introduction of new seeds and varieties yield good result.

‘You do better work and move forward and learn new things” Prabha Devi’s advice to other community.

Community Action in Ghospur village

Ghospur is a village where community resilience initiatives started with Gayatri SHG in 2011. Now the group has grown in addressing various issues and achieved a lot in improving the village situation.

Sudha Devi is the leader of the group. She work closely with other members Chandrakala Devi, Girija Devi, Mamata Devi, Shanti Devi, Belenda Devi all belongs to Gayatri SHG. They are doing Jute and maize cultivation in 6 khatta land. All 12 members share their labour and contribute own savings in the agriculture work. They received Community Resilience Fund (CRF) in 2012 and cultivated Maize in 6 khatta land. They invested 8000 from their savings for the cultivation. They got good profit and did vegetables. Got a profit of 15,000 from vegetables and maize cultivation in the last 6 months. This was a big achievement and motivation for the women groups. They have taken the decision in doing agriculture in another 6 khatta land and accessed Banana seeds from Government.

They are now planning to take another 5 khatta of land for doing vegetables like Mirchi, bindi, padwal and wheat, bitter guard and cucumber. Now the community process own local seeds for cultivation.

They have organized exposure visits to KVK in Raghavpore, and Darbhanga to see good practices in agriculture. They are using local seeds, following line sowing, delayed crops and vermin compost. Most of the households are having 4 cows each. All are leaders on their own capacity and visit other villages to share their practices.

“While intervening in agriculture, we also looked other issues” says Sudha Devi.

Community Plan – The problems and issues identified in the mapping was discussed in details and decided to talk to Panchayat to solve the issues related to health, infrastructure and environment. They have prepared a community plan in the SHG meetings and passed in Ward Sabha. This has been submitted to Panchayat after finalization. The plan was not accepted by panchayat as this was the first time women groups’ demand for implementing development plans. After regular meetings and dialogues Panchayat agreed to incorporate the plan in Panchayat plan. 40% of their demand was incorporated in Panchayat plan and submitted to Zilla Parisha. This is a great achievement from the women leadership.

They got Three kilometer new road connecting to main road, new three bridges, Samuday bhavan repaired (This is the only one community centre in Parmanandpur panchayat), New Panchayat bhavan, raised handpumps, and new building for Anganwadi.

Women leaders are actively participating in ward sabha and gram sabha and making sure that their voices   and concerns are heard and influencing in decision making.

“Unity among the members is necessary to do such collective action,” Says Chandrakala Devi, another leader from this village.

On leadership Sudha Devi says “We have reached at medium level, we want to go up and do more good things for the community”

 “When we started attending meetings and training, we learned many things on impact of climate change and health, agriculture etc.” Mamata Devi

“Whatever we learned should pass on to other communities” Sudha devi

So far 150 women from 3 villages learned from Ghospur village on sustainable agriculture practices. 9 women leaders are from this village is able to transfer the best practices thru learning forums and dialogue events.

 “Want to do agriculture in minimum land get more production” Girija Devi

Pashu Sakhi

Renu Devi is a leader in animal care in Di Rampur village in Darbhanga. She love and take care of cows and goats in her village. She treat animals for common illness and prepare medicines locally. Renu Devi got training on animal care from the Goat Trust, Lucknow facilitated by Kanchan Seva Ashram, a close partner of SSP in resilience building. During the training, Renu Devi learned what are the common diseases occur in animals, and how to prepare medicines in traditional way.

She charge only Rs 10 as fees from the people. She think this is her duty to help other community. She attend 300 cases every month and earn Rs 1000 from this practice.

She herself as a farmer who do cultivation of vegetables and pulses in organic method. She got the training and inputs from Kanchan Seva Ashram. “I do my work with love and care. It help other people in saving animals from disease. Animals are necessary for agriculture and livelihood. Without them we can live” says Renu Devi.

grassroots initiatives in India