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Vivek Foundation Empowering Tribal Women By Providing Backyard Poultry Operations

By Harmesh Sidher

Vivek Educational Foundation of Canada

More than 24 % of the Indian population are described as Scheduled Tribes. They are also known as Untouchables, Adivasis and Dalits. Traditionally, they are the indigenous forest dwellers and coexisting with the wild life and the nature. While recognising the role and significance of these tribes the government of India has legislated The Forest Rights Act (2006). Implementation of this Act is going to be the most difficult task because of the vested interest groups such as industry, wild life, land and timber mafias who are dead against this Act.

Vivek Canada believes that these tribes are the custodians of the forests and have right to live with human dignity. As per the United Nations “healthcare, education, gender inequality and limited access to credit, however, have posed a number of challenges for rural women. Further, the global food and economic crisis and climate change have aggravated the situation. It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls”. In order to support their cause and to empower the poorest tribal women we have established a small backyard poultry cooperative in the Musepur village located in the forest area of district Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh near the Nepali border. This village has about thirty families. There are over forty children under the age of ten. There are no health or education facilities provided by the local governments in this village. Since 2006 we are operating an elementary school but believe that 
education can only create awareness of issues but in order to develop and maintain self-sustainable rural communities it is imperative that the projects which provide  employment, should be implemented. To reduce the rural poverty and to empower the rural women small projects such as poultry and egg production can be very useful by providing them proper skills in production, financing and marketing. These initiatives will motivate and encourage them to utilise this opportunity for raising their standard of living.

In order to establish the feasibility, a pilot project was initiated in March 2011.

Under this project a group of five women formed a coop. We provided them 500 day old chicken, feed, medicine, equipment, technical and marketing support. We pay directly to the suppliers from the interest free loan out of which 75% has already been recovered.

In celebration of International Development Week (February 5-11, 2012) which was focused on the theme of “empowering women and girls”, to raise awareness and share the outcome, this case study was presented in the action forum on February 10.2012 held in the Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business organised by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and CUSO.

Harmesh Sidher (sidherh@yahoo.com) is the president of Vivek Educational Foundation of Canada

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