Old question, new debate – Aid to India

When India has a space programme, more billionaires than the UK and an aid budget of its own, should the UK still be sending money there?

This was a question raised by the BBC’s South Asia reporter Justin Rowlatt on Radio 4’s Today Programme, and skilfully debated by Oxfam India CEO, Nisha Agrawal earlier today. Despite being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India suffers from vast poverty; over a third of the world’s poor live there and, according to Agrawal, between 30-40% of Indians live on less than $1.25 a day.

Livelihood projectJeevika Trust has been working in villages in India for over 45 years in an effort to revitalise rural communities, empower marginalised women and help some of the world’s poorest people help themselves out of poverty through building sustainable livelihoods. The projects we support in partnership with grassroots Indian NGOs have touched one hundred thousand lives in village India since 1970 and have brought improved sanitation, better health and nutrition, empowerment and increased financial stability to hundreds of villages in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

Village IndiaWith India, particularly rural India, having been supported by the UK Government for many years, we are suffering after DfID’s decision to close its main aid programme to India by the end of 2015. One of our flagship projects, the Madhu Network Project, was funded for two years by the department and helped hundreds of isolated women from dalit and tribal communities in Odisha become self-sustaining village entrepreneurs by training them in bee keeping and the production and marketing of honey. Through participating in this project, some women were able to increase their household income by over 20 per cent after just one harvest, improving conditions for their whole families. Honey productionAfter the success of the pilot phase of this project, we hoped to extend the initiative to multiple other villages to benefit hundreds more marginalised women and their families; however, with the cuts in aid from DfID and from other funding sources following suit, this extension has not yet been possible.

Our Executive Director, Andrew Redpath said: “It is frustrating that there is a perception that India no longer needs aid. It is a country of 1.2 billion people and the world’s biggest poverty trap with over 280 million people living in poverty in rural areas and villages alone.

“We have seen immense success in our projects and, with our Indian NGO partners, we have been able to make a positive impact on a hundred thousand people over the last 45 years. There is still a huge amount of work to be done and millions of people who need the support of NGOs like Jeevika Trust.

Crab cultivation“We’re not about handouts – we’re about village livelihoods. We recognise that there is far greater success in helping marginalised communities stand on their own two feet through building sustainable livelihoods and enterprises than there is in simply delivering food or utilities.

“We’re calling on the world to recognise that millions of people in rural India still need help, and that aid cuts will have a long term negative impact on so many people living in desperate poverty.”

To make a donation to support our livelihood projects, please click on the link below:

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Living with the Narikuravar

By Jeevika Trust’s former Communities Consultant, Becky Buchanan

Before I started working with Jeevika in 2012, I had spent the hot dusty summer of 2011 living with the gypsies on the temple-strewn plains of Tamil Nadu, India. Together we worked, danced and celebrated festivals, and we even got tattooed together. The recent blog documenting the work of Jeevika Trust and the Annai Mary Foundation with a different branch of this tribe brought back many memories as romantic as an Enid Blyton story.

Becky Buchanan with a Narikuravar babyI was a volunteer at the Narikuravar Education and Welfare Society. As team leader I strategised the approach to capacity building for the NGO, mainly in the fields of English grammar and social media, livelihood development for women and holistic education for the school children.

The Narikuravar gypsies are happy to capitalise on their mystical image, and travel to sell home-crafted cures for everything from baldness to impotence, as well as religious necklaces known as mala. These can signify a variety of blessings, from marriage to talismans with nine colours symbolising the 9 planets in harmony.

A Narikuravar Girl - Indian Gypsy childThis industrious self-employment is not without its problems. Locally, school children have to achieve 85% attendance to graduate to the next year, but with family welfare an immediate priority children commonly repeat 1st grade five times, then leave.

Discrimination remains rife from the local community who have been settled for longer. The stigma means it is hard to find other work and contributes to a continuing cycle of alcoholism, domestic violence and early marriage.

I had the joy of living beside a hostel for children to attend school whilst their parents worked. After work, I played games with the kids, applied basic first aid and gave them what they really needed – love and attention.

Narikuravar education teaching childrenThe Narikuravar culture persists through years of persecution. As the men pay dowry to marry (the opposite of wider Indian culture) women are more respected – they even had a lady shaman priest at one Kali sacrifice festival I went to! Dreams and symbolism are vital to daily life. The vagriboli language has no written dictionary yet shares roots with the Roma language.

The work of Jeevika Trust respects the Narikuravar’s traditional way of life whilst equipping people with skills and options for self-improvement and health. By donating today, you can help Narikuravar women and their families access health care, improve their nutritional health and enjoy a better, more sustainable future.

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What’s in store for Village India?

by Andrew Redpath, Director of Jeevika Trust.

Narendra Modi India Prime Minister BJPNarendra Modi’s BJP party, leading India’s present NDA coalition government, has completed its first year in power – so is it too soon to turn the spotlight on what if anything is changing for Village India? After successive governments over 60 years have failed to address the challenge of rural vs urban India – what might fairly be called the world’s biggest ‘elephant in the room’, – what signs are there of a fundamental advance in official or political thinking and direction?


A recent McKinsey Global Institute study is in little doubt: “The speed of urbanisation poses an unprecedented managerial and policy challenge – yet India has barely engaged in a national discussion about how to handle the seismic shift in the makeup of the nation.” That is not entirely fair: a ‘national discussion’ on rural India has been taking place at top political level over the past decade – but it has produced no cross-party consensus or shared vision and momentum.

In fact there has existed since before the Millennium a ‘Vision 2020’ whose first principle, as articulated by former President Abdul Kalam, was ‘a nation where the rural-urban divide has been reduced to a thin line’. Abdul Kalam launched in 2003 the mission for Providing Rural Amenities to Rural Areas, known as PURA, aimed at providing urban infrastructure and connectivity in rural hubs to create economic opportunities outside of cities, but by 2012 this was branded a failure by the government itself. Likewise, Congress’s later ambitious NREGA scheme for a ‘national rural employment guarantee’ of 100 days p.a. of public work for a set daily wage, has also run into the sand with inevitable charges of corruption, and a marked drop in the number of days worked from 2.5 to 1.5 billion p.a.

Governments have failed to develop a clear strategy on the massive scale of ‘urban drift’ from rural India into exploding slum cities: current projections are that today’s urban population in India will double to over 600 million by 2030, effectively reversing the present 70/30% rural/urban balance today, while India’s total population forges ahead to overtake that of China by 2022. And there has been no discernible ‘national discussion’ – let alone a clear central direction as we are seeing in China – about how the cities are to absorb this huge flow of people. To quote McKinsey again *: “The starkest contrast between the two countries is that China has embraced and shaped urbanization, while India is still waking up to its urban reality and the opportunities that its cities offer for economic and social transformation.”

Rural women India agricultureSo what if any evidence of a change of heart, direction or priority can we detect from the BJP’s first year in office? It made an energetic start, with a more active legislative programme than its Congress predecessor: a decisive shift in public finances away from central welfare subsidies – including child nutrition and clean village water – in favour of infrastructure – roads, bridges, etc.; a one-third increase in the share of tax revenue passed on to the states for them to administer; broad social initiatives on house-building, health-care, expansion of personal banking and digital availability of information on government services; and a ‘clean India’ campaign – of which only the last was angled specifically at rural areas.

Much publicised among Modi’s social initiatives has been the ‘100 smart cities’ programme: no clear definition of a ‘smart city’ has been offered beyond the fact that, in the government’s words, it will “attract investments, experts and professionals – and good quality infrastructure” and other features of a “citizen-centric and investor-friendly smart city”.

But the financial viability of this Mission is very far from clear: the central funds allocated in the 2015 Budget to the Smart Cities Mission is only 1/1000th of the $1 trillion estimated by accountants KPMG as the cost of the programme, – it being evidently assumed that the ‘smart’ process will draw in private investment to complete the task.

There then came a matching ‘smart villages’ initiative under which rural villages would be given Internet access, clean water, sanitation, and low-carbon energy, with the goal of at least 2,500 smart villages by 2019. Not only is this a drop in the ocean of India’s 600,000 villages, but again the credibility of funding remains to be demonstrated. The progress of this idea will still be worth watching.

Meanwhile, on the ground in rural areas, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, there are “increasing signs of rural distress (which make) Modi’s cuts politically risky”, while discontent over his anti-inflation policies and particularly his bill to open up farmers’ small-holdings to acquisition by businesses is ‘turning to anger’. These are trends he can ill afford to ignore if he is to hold on to power in key agricultural states like Uttar Pradesh – a state which alone contains a population about the size of Brazil – and Bihar. The Bihar state elections this November will be an acid test of the BJP’s standing in rural India.

In conclusion, it may be said at this stage that the new government is failing to maintain the momentum of earlier macro-initiatives to address the rural-India challenge and drive a cross-party strategic vision for what McKinsey calls the ‘make-up of the nation’.

Rural worker India Indian village



TO USE SNAPS or TO NOT USE SNAPS, that is the question!

THE WORD SNAPS is Jeevika’s working acronym for sanitary napkins. We currently support our Indian partner, Jeevan Rekha Parishad (www.jrpsai.org) to work with Tribal women in the Chandaka Forest Area of Odisha, to produce cotton, machinery-made, eco-disposable SNAPS. Formed into
Self-Help Groups, these women will make and sell the SNAPS to local women and make them available in schools for pubescent girls, while helping the women generate income to improve family life.
Adolescent girls in India, teenage girls in India, menstruation, sanitary healthWe already know that 73% of the women JRP surveyed use – and re-use – cloth during menstruation. Nearly 50% of these women were from impoverished village families. The survey also revealed that 66.7% of adolescent girls who use cloth develop Reproductive Tract Infections from the use of unhygienic recycled cloth. Almost 100% of girls surveyed, learned about menarche (onset of menstruation) only after it occurred. It is well-documented that girls who have access to SNAPS are less likely to drop-out from school or contract Reproductive Tract Infections.

JRP and the Jeevika Team – and Monsoon Trust who are funding this 1-year pilot project – believe this is an excellent opportunity to improve the understanding of health & hygiene issues and to trial safe modes of eco-friendly/discreet disposal of SNAPS within five high schools using either incinerators, burial or burning located within a target area of 25 villages.

THERE IS a counter argument in circulation: In July 2015, Sinu Joseph of Mythri Speaks Trust (www.mythrispeaks.org) posted a provocative blog on Swarajya titled ‘Why India doesn’t need the sanitary napkin revolution’.

While this article does raise a number of important issues related to the way menstruation is being addressed in India, it over-simplifies the matter of SNAPS and their use v.s. non-use. What is true is that outside India we do tend to judge menstrual practices in India as being poor or unsanitary because they don’t conform to a sanitized western ideal; just as it is true that we must allow women to decide for themselves.

Joseph criticises the media on the subject of menstruation: ‘you will find horror stories of how only 12% of Indian women are using sanitary napkins and that the others are almost dying from lack of access to such products…of the poor Indian girl in a village who is dropping out of school because she suddenly started her period…how India is full of superstitions and menstrual taboos that are coming in the way of us breaking free and embracing our body…and sanitary napkins.’ In reality, we think these ‘stories’ are not too far from the truth.

Joseph makes other criticisms: of the statistics and claims made by major NGOs and international organisations who ‘look down upon indigenous women who for generations have bled naturally without using any product’ – a comment of extraordinary complacency given women’s rights in a fast changing world.

To establish what the women we work with want, we at Jeevika working with JRP, will continue to give women – and particularly school-girls – the opportunity to freely trial hygienic, eco-friendly SNAPS and choose for themselves whether they do or do not use SNAPS! Once the pilot project is complete, we will share this information with you.

Menstrual Health India

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Project SNAPS
by donating now

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Project Narikuravar, our Indian Gypsies

Did you know that the gypsies of the world originated in Northern India? After a presence in India for some 1,000 years they dispersed to arrive in Mid-West Asia, then Europe, sometime between the sixth and eleventh centuries.

The gypsy community in Tamil Nadu with which Jeevika and its partner, Annai Mary Foundation work are known as the Narikuravar. The name Narikuravar is a combination of the Tamil words Nari and Kurava meaning jackal people, a name bestowed on them due to their highly honed hunting skills, with meat being the primary food on which they have traditionally survived.

During British rule the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 prohibited the Narikuravar from hunting and treated them with mistrust and suspicion. It was not until 2008 that India’s Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment recommended equal reservations for gypsy communities similar to those for Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

The stigma surrounding gypsies continues to exist: they still remain banned from entry into forests to hunt; they remain living on the fringe of villages subject to poverty, illiteracy and discrimination; and they suffer from poor nutritional health.

Narikuravar family, Indian gypsy family

Our Project Narikuravar in Tamil Nadu is designed to provide the Narikuravar villagers with a Govt. Health Card which gives them access to health services; to raise the awareness of the issues surrounding nutritional health, hygiene, STDs and HIV/AIDS.

Annai Mary Foundation will also work directly with the 250 Narikuravar villagers to form 100 women into Self-Help Groups to grow vegetables, cultivate mushrooms and poultry to supplement their diet as well as to become self-sustainable. There will also be cooking classes for adolescent girls and women to prepare nutritious food from their own resources, including soups and pickles.

Narikuravar family, Indian gypsy family

Help Jeevika Trust to support, sustain and expand Project Narikuravar by donating now

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Crab and Prawn Farming

This story was told to Geraldine, a volunteer for Jeevika Trust who visited India courtesy of innocent foundation.  Thank you Geraldine and innocent! 

Project Eco works with impoverished tribal families in the ecologically-vulnerable Chilika Lake Lagoon. Its goal is to develop sustainable lagoon-linked livelihoods such as crab, fish and prawn cultivation.

Santi is one of the women who has benefitted from the project. With JRP support she has started a prawn farming activity.

india story

“My name is Santi. It means ‘peace’ in Hindi. I am 52 years old and I have one son and two daughters. One daughter is married, but not the other one. She is still at school. I used to have two sons but one died three years ago. The other one is independent, he works and earns money to feed his own family. I also have five younger brothers, whom my husband helped to get educated. Now they are settled in various positions in Bhubaneshwar [Orissa state’s capital, 3 hours’ drive away from the village] and they don’t come to visit. Even though they grew up in the village, they don’t care how we live. I feel very sad about the situation.

Before JRP started the project in my village, I wasn’t working. I was dependent on my husband, who works outside the village but earns very little money.

After Renoo [project coordinator from JRP] came and spoke about prawn and crabs cultivation, I joined a self-help group and was able to invest 5000 Rs towards crab cultivation. I learned the skills to cultivate crabs and prawns, and also learned how to increase banana and coconut production. Since the project started a year and a half ago, I made 70,000 Rs profit. Now I feel very rich.

Fattened crabs are hand picked for harvest

Every day, I wake up at 5 in the morning. I first send my children to school then look after the crabs and prawns cultivation. I have lunch at 10am, then snacks at 4 and dinner at 8. I do all the family work in the morning and then I am free. In my spare time, I plan where I need to invest my money and what I need to buy.

My life has changed now: I used to have a thatched home, now I have a cemented home. Only the ceiling is still thatched. I also opened a stationery shop, which is looked after by my daughter-in-law. Thanks to all these activities, I was identified by the government of Odisha [Indian state in which Santi lives] as someone who could be trusted to make things happen so got extra help from them.

We save the extra money in the bank and I can use that money when needed. I don’t need to ask the other women for money. I didn’t have to ask them for money when my daughter’s husband died three months ago. He was a fisherman and disappeared. It was tragic.

I have hopes for the future: I hope I can build a cemented ceiling on my house. I also hope my son and daughters will get educated and don’t have to depend on anyone.”

Crab and prawn farming are some of the most profitable activities on the island, producing commodities which can be exported to foreign countries.

To support our partner JRP in continuing to establish Self-Help Groups in village India please donate now

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A Positive Match

Kumar and Ellavarasi (names changed) stand behind their cart laden with vegetables at the weekly farmers’ market and call out to passing customers. Their son, a toddler, plays with his toys nearby, as the couple are busy marketing their stock of tomatoes, gourd and pumpkins.

It has been a profitable day and the couple look forward to buying some essentials for their home and, if money is left over, some tasty treats which their son will enjoy. They are like any other young couple in their 20s living in the rural hinterlands of Tamil Nadu, struggling to eke out a living, with one key difference none of their fellow vendors or their customers are aware of: they are both HIV-positive.

Tamil MarriageKumar first met Ellavarasi in 2006 at a meeting which brought together People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in the Trichy District.  Kumar was a supervisor in a local manufacturing unit and Ellavarasi was a young widow still coming to terms with her husband’s untimely death. Both were struggling to cope with a devastating disease that had infected and impacted them physically, emotionally and socially.

During the meeting, several participants shared their experiences of living with HIV and the challenges they faced in dealing with the disease on a day-to-day basis. Women, in particular, have to deal with isolation and discrimination from their families and neighbours and, worse, economic instability after their husband’s death. There is no-one with whom they can share their concerns and anxieties and they often became sexual prey for other men.

Mithra Foundation – Jeevika’s organisational partner in Trichy, Tamil Nadu – provides livelihood opportunities and enhances social and economic well being of PLWHAs, played matchmaker for Ellavarasi and Kumar.  Mithra, during its monthly meetings with PLWHAs stresses the importance of positive living and proposed marriage as a solution to loneliness and stigma faced by HIV-positive individuals. Marriage with a fellow HIV-carrier provides not just companionship, but also a practical base for dealing with the illness, including mutual monitoring of medication and sharing the cost of treatment.

Mithra Foundation CandlesPLWHAs need love, care and support from their spouses and most importantly someone to take care of their physical and emotional needs and give them the strength to face life’s adversities,” said Mr Peter Nayagam, who heads Mithra Foundation.

Kumar’s family were initially apprehensive about his marriage to an HIV-positive woman, but they have since come around with counselling, and have accepted Ellavarasi.

We caution both men and women with HIV to reveal their positive status and find a partner who is also infected. They understand the trials and tribulations of being HIV positive and are likely to be more supportive and understanding,” says Mr Nayagam.

Encouraged by the marriage of Kumar and Ellavarasi, Mithra has since set up an informal marriage bureau and succeeded in uniting eight more couples with HIV status.

It hasn’t been easy for Mithra to find potential partners for HIV-positive individuals who want to marry. Opposition from family and community is common and widows with children find it more difficult to find a partner. Men do not want to take responsibility for somebody else’s children, especially if they are HIV-positive.

Kumar and Ellavarasi are members of Mithra’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) for PLWHAs and both also engage in votive candle-making which, together with other SHGs, are able to make a small amount of income selling their candles to the local temples and churches. The couple recently received a revolving fund of Rs5,000 (approx. £53) from Mithra (sponsored by Jeevika) and a bank loan of Rs10,000 (approx. £106) and utilised the amount to engage in vegetable vending. Their household income is now approximately Rs4,000 (£43) per month and growing.

Both Kumar and Ellavarasi are on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (a medication provided to HIV-positive individuals to boost their immunity levels) and often fall ill due to opportunistic infections, but their cloud has a silver lining: their two-and-a-half-year-old son, who is the apple of their eye, is free from the HIV virus.


Dedicate your money to supporting the future happiness of couples like Kumar and Ellavarasi today

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Small but not Beautiful?

In a recent report, the World Bank interestingly puts great emphasis on jobs (livelihoods) and “enhancing gender parity” in its most recent studies and reports on South Asia. The reports are detailed and make for rather dry reading, but what is interesting for Jeevika and its supporters is how much employment is accounted for by small-scale “own account” enterprise even in such areas as manufacturing.

Small shop in India

By far, most employment in India comes from self-employment and casual labour and that transition from casual labouring to self-employment will continue to be where the future lies in the near term for most people trying to escape poverty. Salaried employment, despite the high levels of economic growth in India in particular, still only provided 17% of all employment in 2009/10.

I don’t think you will find mention of Schumacher Economics or “Small is Beautiful” anywhere on the World Bank’s website but the statistics they provide show that small-scale employment opportunities make up the bulk of those that exist. The challenge of course is to improve the quality and conditions of such employment with much of the work being “small” scale but far from “beautiful” — especially when it boils down to poorly paid casual labour in bad working conditions.

The way to achieve that is to improve skills, education, and most importantly of all, to “enhance gender parity” as the World Bank describes it, especially if issues like the childhood malnutrition still endemic in the region are to be properly addressed.

Excerpts from the World Bank report on South Asia:

In 2011, the Bank produced a regional flagship report, More and Better Jobs in South Asia. To strengthen the World Bank’s understanding of the policies conducive to inclusive growth, the South Asia region team is working on a new flagship report on Equity for Development, in which inequality in income and consumption will be studied alongside inequality of access and opportunities.

World Bank report on jobs

Building Skills and Improving Health and Nutrition Outcomes

The World Bank has strengthened its focus on promoting a multi-sectoral agenda to tackle the severe nutrition problems in South Asia, and on mainstreaming gender issues into its operations. South Asia has 330 million undernourished people, more than sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Bank is drawing on the World Development Report (WDR) 2012 findings as it intensifies its efforts to enhance gender parity in the region. Efforts include strategic mainstreaming across the portfolio, such as the South Asia Gender Initiative, which is working across sectors to mainstream gender; understand gender identities (women’s and men’s) across generations; and support Impact Evaluations of Rural Livelihoods projects in India and Nepal and gender-specific projects.

In addition, the Bank has many stand-alone gender-based projects such as the National Rural Livelihoods Project in India and the Adolescent Girls Initiative in Afghanistan, which aims to help girls stay in school and build skills so they can find jobs.

If you would like to support Jeevika’s work with the poorest of the poor in India, through livelihood initiatives just like those mentioned by the World Bank, please consider making a donation:

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First photo used courtesy of TropicalIsland.de and second photo from Chapter 3 of the World Bank report.

Voices from India: Basanti in Bebari

It’s a balmy Tuesday morning in Orissa as we make our way to the village of Bebari, nearly a three-hour drive from the state capital of Bhubaneswar. For the last few miles, the road is nothing but thick red clay, and several times we pause to give way to cows, the cowherds clucking their tongues to clear up the jam.

A year has gone by since I’ve been to Orissa, and I’m delighted to find myself here once again with Jeevika’s programmes officer, Judith, our in-country coordinator, Priya, and Manu and Madhu, directors of our partner NGO in Orissa, Jeevan Rekha Parishad (JRP).

Today is our first day heading back into the field to visit our projects.

Jeevika Trust - beekeeping projects in India

Come and learn from bees reads a poster on one of the first buildings we see in Bebari. But today we have come to not only learn from bees, but from the women who keep them. After receiving a two-year extension from DFID, Jeevika and JRP have continued the Madhu Network Project, which supports 300 traditional women beekeepers in 10 villages across Orissa.

The first woman I sit down with is named Basanti. With Manu kindly offering to translate, I learn that she is 40 years old and has four children – a son and three daughters, ranging in age from 8 to 20 years old. While her children are all studying, Basanti herself has no education.

“There was no school at the time,” she explains. “There was only jungle when I was a child. My parents taught me some letters. That is all.

Originally from the Ganjam district, Basanti has lived in Bebari for 25 years, and was married at the age of 15. “Earlier, there was nothing. We were just housewives. Now we have started beekeeping.”

Basanti even tells us she had the first beehive box in the village. And since two Self-Help Groups (SHGs) were formed in Bebari six months ago, she has become president of hers.

Jeevika Trust - beekeeping projects in India

Jeevika Trust - beekeeping projects in India

Jeevika Trust - beekeeping projects in India

There are typically three kilograms of honey in a harvest, with each kilogram earning 200 rupees in local markets. Basanti uses the extra income to buy household items, for the treatment of her son when he was suffering from fever, and “also for the study of my children.”

“Earlier no one was giving us a single rupee for our activities. Now we have our group and our savings. We are very happy to be working together in a team for economic activities. It is increasing day by day, so we will not stop.

“Now you all have come. We need to assess our other needs and other programmes. That is our future plan. We are very happy many people are coming to our village now.”

In addition to meeting household needs and expenses, each member of the SHG also currently saves 20 rupees a month in their collective savings account. Hearing this is a necessary reminder of the hundreds of millions of rural people living at the ‘base of the pyramid’ that is today’s modern India.

While those at the top now earn and spend at European rates, women like Basanti still find tiny amounts of money to be a worthwhile return on time and effort. Indeed, I think back to what she had said earlier in our conversation:

We are increasing day by day.

I already look forward to the updates – and to seeing Basanti again – when we’re back in Orissa this time next month.

Please consider supporting Jeevika with a small donation as we work to support Basanti and other women beekeepers like her in the communities of village India:

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Jeevika Trust - beekeeping projects in India

A Bee’s Life, Tamil Nadu-style

Last Thursday our funding strategy officer, Mark, shared about a new beekeeping initiative in Orissa. But this isn’t the only region of India in which we’re supporting honey projects. From another part of the country – Tamil Nadu – and another Jeevika partner, we’ve got a second bee story for you…and this time, with lots of photos!

This bee story begins with one of our six Indian partners, the Annai Mary Foundation. In the past couple of years, they have trained 100 women from eight groups in beekeeping with the support of Jeevika Trust.

Wooden hive boxes have been supplied to 67 women, which have then been placed in banana groves with dense foliage and close proximity to water sources.

An initial reluctance and fear in handling bees gave way to interest and commitment among the women. “We check the bees’ at least once every two days and make sure they are doing alright,” one woman involved in the project said.

Women´s Empowerment in IndiaWomen's Livelihood in India

Women´s Empowerment in IndiaThe women are eagerly waiting to harvest their first yield of honey. “We will use it for our own needs and feed it to our children. Honey has nutritional value. Once we begin to get more honey, we will sell some of this,” says an excited Indrani who hopes to get Rs 50 to 100 per kilogram of honey.

Indrani dreams of a bright future – a future in which additional income will pay the medical bills from treating her disabled son.

The women are eager to share their new skills with other women in the neighbourhood and also to enhance their knowledge through an exposure visit to a private beekeeping enterprise.

Women´s Empowerment in India

Women´s Empowerment in India

Women´s Empowerment in IndiaDo you have a bee story of your own to share? We’d love to hear it!