Making woman the champion fighter against malnutrition in her home and in society, and recognising the key role that enhanced livelihood plays in providing nutrition, millions of women across rural India have been made part of Self Help Groups and are involved in varied activities like organic farming, or as Mahila Kisans, Pashu Sakhis – thanks to the Rural Development Ministry’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).
DAY-NRLM seeks to reach out to rural poor households and organise one woman member from each household into women Self Help Groups and federations at the village level and above.
“The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission focuses on poverty alleviation and on women. It focuses on sustained flow of income through farm and non-farm methods, and promotion of social capital through trained manpower,” said Leena Johari, Joint Secretary (Rural Livelihoods) National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, at an agri-nutrition conference here to take forward the Poshan Abhiyaan.
The NRLM focuses on the promotion of sustainable households among the poor through access to financial services and credit and the promotion of multiple livelihoods, she said.
It also focuses on Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) to promote agro-ecological practices in order to increase the income of women farmers. The MKSP has roped in 35 lakh women so far. “The MKSP focuses on dietary change and dietary diversity,” she said.
Value chains have been created from agriculture, horticulture, dairying, fisheries and Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) related activities that are benefitting the farmers. Small and marginal farmers producing maize, mango, or are into floriculture, dairy, goatery have benefited a lot through these value chains created across different states.
The NRLM has also trained community members in activities like bookkeeping, capacity building, financial services and as Community Livelihoods Resource Persons (CLRPs) like Krishi Sakhi and Pashu Sakhi who provide services to small and marginal farmers including dairy farmers.
As part of ensuring food and nutritional security, the NRLM is also promoting the setting up of agri-nutri gardens at the Mahila Kisan household level. It has also set up centres that ensure access to farm equipment.
“The focus is on nutritious food, promotion of agriculture through non-chemical agriculture. The focus is on millets. The programme aims to integrate livelihoods with the establishment of nutri gardens,” she said.
The Krishi Sakhis are trained in soil testing, water conservation, plant protection, seeds, crop rotation, how to create biomass and use it as fuel, while Pashu Sakhis focus on animal breeding, rearing animals hygienically, timely vaccination, first aid to animals, said Johri.
The NRLM has also launched the Swabhiman or JEEViKA programme in Bihar, that promotes food, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and nutrition based livelihoods, with support from Unicef.
The JEEViKA programme works to strengthen village, health, sanitation and nutrition days (VHSNDs) to improve access to antenatal care, family planning and micronutrient supplementation. It also works on training of health service providers, a monthly review of the nutrition indicators and identifying women at risk of undernutrition in order to initiate special supplementary food/counselling. It also focuses on strengthening adolescent health by improving access to adolescent health and nutrition services.
In 2016, JEEViKA partnered with Unicef to initiate the Swabhimaan Project (2016-2020) with an aim to improve the nutritional status of adolescent girls, pregnant women and mothers of children under two years in Kasba and Jalalgarh blocks of Purnea district in Bihar.
NRLM has also launched the Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY) to provide safe, affordable and community monitored transport services in rural areas. The vehicles are owned and operated by the SHG members and operate in regions that are not served by regular transport services.
It is also focusing on the setting up of rural haats in order to market the products of women self help groups and the agricultural produce.