Women leaders as change makers in resilience building

Background

Malkoshkapur is a model village showing how a vibrant learning community with women leadership can change their community thru women leadership and leaning strategies. Located in remote place near Nepal border Malkoshkapur is 13 kilometres away from the nearest town Birpur. This village like other villages in Supaul district has a history of flood and its impact on human lives and livelihoods. In the changing climate and recurring floods, women leaders are paving the way for implementing sustainable and innovative initiatives and motivate other communities to implement and scale it up. This is what happening in Malkoshkapur village.

The Problem

Sand deposits after the Kosi flood have destroyed the fertile land, soil and the environment. This has led to decrease in income and difficult to run the family. There was no Self Help Groups prior to 2008 in this area. After 2008 flood, GPSVS an NGO based in Madhubani came to this village and mobilised women in SHGs in 2011. In short time they showed that the group and togetherness has a meaning and significant change in their life.

Initiatives to reduce the problem

Malkoshkapur women groups learned how they can mobilise around local risk linking with development and partnership after a learning exchange conducted to Jagir Araji village which is 8 km away from Jagir Araji. Motivated women groups came back with a determination to take lessons from Jagir Araji. They conducted vulnerability mapping in the village and identified priorities to address for solution. They actually exposed and aware of local risk and what are the priorities to address. It was an eye opening to many issues for them. In the mapping and dialogue process, ward members and community leaders were participated. They identified weather changes, flooding, poor infrastructure, sanitation, drinking water, health and livelihoods are the main problems they face.

To address the issues in agriculture and livelihoods, women group decided to start collective vegetable farming on leased land. The group received Rs. 15,000 as Community Resilience Fund (CRF) from SSP. The group bought 3 khatta land initially to start vegetables under the leadership of Lalita Devi.

“We need unity and strength in collective work. We also have to empower with information from meetings and learning visit.” – Lalit Devi

The first experiment was a success story and they got Rs. 4000 as profit. After motivated by the good result, the groups comprising 11 members bought another 5 more khatta of land on lease. This time they cultivated maize and wheat which again provided a good profit. It was a success again and the community now plan to cultivate paddy in this season.

“When we cultivated vegetables last year we got good profit of Rs. 4000. If we expand to more areas we can get much better profit.” says Ranjana Devi, women leader from Malkoshkapur.

After success in agriculture and livelihoods, they also showed their leadership skills in demanding community infrastructure and facilities for the community. Women groups are active in Village Development Committee and developed a community plan and submitted to panchayat. Their main priorities were raised hand-pumps, strong houses, proper roads and drainage, toilet scheme and water for drinking and irrigation. The panchayat included their plan in the Panchayat plan and submitted to Zilla parishad and the community so far got 6 hand-pumps, 32 houses raised the platform and strengthened with EQ resistant features, 12 toilets for houses.

Ranjana Devi – “Whenever you do any good work in the village think about development”

Impact:
Now the groups are recognised as leaders and change makers in this village. They are now visiting local panchayat and block level offices to demand for new schemes and programmes, seeds and vermin beds etc. They started attending meetings and workshops organised by civil society organisations and gain knowledge thru sharing and learning. They are inspiring other neighbouring villages to develop safe communities in disaster and climate change situations. More women leaders are developed thru the initiatives and partnership with local panchayat has strengthened.

“We contributed money and work in field together. We want to take our community forward”.

“Earlier we were not sitting in front of women. Now we are organized thru meetings and talking to panchayat mukhya for solutions. We will increase our strength in the coming months”, Says Lalita Devi.

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