The Integrated Community Empowerment Program was initiated, based on William Booth’s concept of “Banking for the Poor”, a vision that reinforced TSA’s goals of poverty alleviation and meeting human needs. The purpose of the program is alleviating poverty through the development of a sustainable network of women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs), providing opportunities for saving, credit, health promotion focusing on Life style Related Diseases and responding Water, Sanitation and Environment needs of the target families.
At present the Integrated Community Empowerment Program (IECP) is in operation by the generous financial and technical support of SAWSO, in nearly 160 villages including 116 Salvation Army Corps. 4615 women are networked in 300 Self Help Groups, out of the specifically selected 300 Below Poverty line (BPL) and 200 Marginalized families, were identified and provided special attention.
In the target villages, poverty is complex and multifaceted.Problems/ needs relating to poverty are interrelated. Due to this reason the program is predominantly designed and shaped for an empowerment process by equipping the Self Help Group members through awareness creation and skill training and also streaming towards sustained development. It is hoped that it will create a positive impact on the economic, social, health, political and spiritual dimensions of the Communities.
The TSA-CHDP enabled the other 5 Indian Territories also to replicate and scale up the community Empowerment program. in to their respective territories.
GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY
For an efficient governance it has a Management Board consisting of members from Territorial Head Quarters, Catherine Booth Hospital and TSA-CHDP. Col. Edwin Masih, Territorial Commander is the Chairman of the Management Board. The internal committee comprises the Director and the Program heads. All the activity plans, requisitions and expenses are approved by the internal committee and also by the Management Board.
All program have comprehensive annual plans which are further converted into quarterly plans and monthly plans. In addition to this, each member of staff has his/her own annual, quarterly and monthly plans. Monitoring is carried out to ensure that the standards are being met. This was done through monthly, quarterly review meetings, field and desk level reviews that enable to analyze the qualitative and quantitative outcomes. Field level monitoring is conducted by Project Coordinators and Program Executive. The staff appraisals are carried out with the participation of staff and an external consultant. Based on their performance relevant trainings are given. Internal financial auditing is conducted for every six months and external auditing is conducted by a Charted Accountant. The Salvation Army CHDP works as a collaborating partner with Government and other Non Governmental Organizations.
AIM OF THE PROGRAM
Improved social, economic and health status of Below Poverty line and Marginalized families
- Reduced poverty level of 300 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families by empowering and sustaining Self Help Groups and Cluster Level Federations with Strengthened Governance By 2015.
- Increased access to regular and diversified source of income to 500 Below Poverty line (BPL) and Marginalized families by imparting technical skills, Micro Credit support and linkages with Government and Nationalized banks by 2015.
- Decreased prevalence of Life Style Related Diseases and Alcoholism among targeted Below Poverty line (BPL) and Marginalized families through improved health seeking behaviour, Hygienic Practices and referral system by 2015.
- Reduced water borne diseases and access to sanitation facilities among targeted Below Poverty line (BPL) and Marginalized families by 2015.
- Improved education and healthy life style practices among 500 Adolescents from Below Poverty line (BPL) and Marginalized families by 2015.
- Increased understanding and adaptation by Marginalized Families to climate change through sensitization, energy Conservation and tree plantation by 2015.
- Increased utilization of Government schemes by Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Marginalized families through linkages and networking within Non Governmental Organizations and Government departments by 2015.
SELF HELP GROUPS – FROM DEPENDENCY TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY
A Collective Action
A Self Help Group (SHG) is a community based organization, typically a group consisting of 12 to 20 women from the same village and are autonomous collectives. The members are from the age group of 18 to 60. SHGs are run by their members, who chose their own leaders and bank account signatories. They decide on compulsory saving amount and save money on weekly/monthly basis and give credit to the needy members at low interest. They have weekly/monthly meeting.
There are 300 Self Help Groups functioning with the membership of 4650 SHGs which in turn had contributed to cohesiveness and solidarity of the groups. Group sustainability was strengthened by regular meetings, savings and timely repayment of loans.
The Integrated Community Empowerment Program staff in the ‘Facilitating Role’ nurtured the Self Help Groups by ensuring the leaders to follow the procedures and technicalities involved in the functioning of the SHGs, maintenance of documents, communications, discussions in group meetings, decision-making and implementation. They also continuously monitor the group.
An inclusive approach of relationship with one another, and the sense of support that they derive from one another with the monetary benefits has created a deeper sense of ownership of the initiatives and also a strong sense of empowerment and dignity.
In the rural villages the social impact was the most significant factor and the SHG acts as an agent for social change; women have become more powerful in their relationship with their husbands and the wider community. As the Self Help Groups are functioning in the local vicinity with collective efforts, towards the development of collective solutions the development gains are long-lasting and sustainable, the change achieved in a way empowers individuals, families and communities.
The key activities of the Self Help Group are savings and credit which are very supportive to the members towards economic empowerment. Also savings and Credit bind the Group members together and cements the unity. In the beginning of the program the members were saving Rs. 10/- per week and now each member is saving from Rs. 100/- to Rs. 300/- per month. All Self Help Groups are having Savings Bank account in Nationalized and Cooperative banks and having regular transactions. An approximate amount of Rs.2,69,62,275/- has been saved by the members and this amount is being rotated among the members.
Initial loans to members are usually funded by savings. Such loans are typically small and used for consumption or to repay existing debt borrowed at higher interest rates from other sources. The SHGs mobilize more savings, retain earnings, and often borrow external funds, enabling larger loans for consumption, investment and business purposes. In order to get internal loans the member needs to submit a written loan application which will be scrutinized in the group meeting and will be approved. Also Group leaders are getting promissory note as acknowledgement for the loans. The loan takers need to repay the amount to the group within 10/15 equal installments along with interest. All the groups are following diminishing rate of interest for the repayment loans.