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'Kerala poverty alleviation movement without parallel'

Sunday October 23, 2011 05:46:25 PM, IANS

Thiruvananthapuram: Kudumbashree, a Kerala government initiative for poverty reduction that has become one of the largest women's movements in Asia, is a model that has no parallel, said a senior official Sunday.

Speaking to the media here, senior Kerala bureaucrat and executive director of Kudumbashree, Sarada Muraleedharan said: "This is a model that has no parallel, even internationally."

"The Planning Commission has selected us along with a movement in Andhra Pradesh as the two models. By now there is hardly any state in the country that has not come to study our success, and also numerous delegations from abroad," said Muraleedharan.

In its 13th year, Kudumbashree has a membership of 37.8 lakh representing equal number of families.

The movement has been built on three critical components - micro credit, entrepreneurship and empowerment.

The success of this movement can be gauged from the fact that it has mobilised Rs.1,688 crore as thrift and disbursed loans amounting to Rs.4,195 crore to its members.

At least 30,569 individual enterprises and 11,893 group enterprises with a minimum of five members have been set up. Besides, 46,444 women groups participated in collective farming and close to 63,000 acres of land has been brought under cultivation, she said.

They have made forays into areas such as garment making, home products division (food products), banana cultivation, bee keeping, milk production, poultry units, vegetable cultivation, a goat village project in Kannur and foot wear manufacturing unit.

"Another major achievement for us is that The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme is effectively implemented with six lakhs of our women members taking part in this programme, and this has provided succour to the poorest of the poor," said Muraleedharan.

Another project that has become a huge success is the 'Santhwanam' project where women who have passed senior school or are graduates in science are given intensive training by professional medical professionals in checking blood pressure and blood sugar.

"I am a member of this project and now I earn a monthly income of Rs.3,000 and I am happy," said Marina, a housewife and a Kudumbashree member.

Kudumbashree got a shot in the arm recently when it was announced that the National Rural Livelihood Mission is soon going to ink an MoU with Kudumbashree.

"The MoU would be inked shortly and as part of it we would be sending our resource persons to the various parts of the country to showcase what we have done," said Muraleedharan.

In the local body elections, 11,773 women candidates contested panchayat elections and 5,485 of them won.

"Our members have different political backgrounds but when it comes to our work, there is no politics," said Muraleedharan, adding that they have been very careful "not to go overboard with media blitz" because they were apprehensive of their success being "torpedoed".







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