Folland of PPI visited these projects in October 2001 and wrote:
I visited Chinyard and
Vikasana last weekend. Here's a brief report; I can give a more detailed one when I'm back in Seattle. I limit myself to
things that are directly relevant to PPI (though I saw some other things that Vikasana is doing).
They took me to 3 villages, 30-50 km from Hubli, to meet with the women's self help groups (SHGs) that have gotten some help from us. These SHGs started savings pools with Rs.20,000 of startup money, lent to them by Chinyard from what we gave them. From these pools, the women have taken loans to buy buffaloes (for milk), sheep (for wool, meat, and sale of lambs), sewing machines, vermiculture compost pits, and capital to start petty shops and tea stalls. (I saw many of these things.) From these things they typically can net 20 or 30 rupees per day, which compares favorably with the Rs.20/day that is the standard day-labor wage. Initially most of the profit goes into repaying the loan, but afterward the women have a good source of income.
In addition to the startup funds, Chinyard has provided training in entrepreneurship and money management to the SHGs, again with PPI support. The SHGs established 1.5-2 years ago are now becoming pretty self-sufficient, needing help from Chinyard only in dealing with the literate world. Chinyard has taught the SHGs to keep meticulous accounts (as they do themselves; they insisted that I examine their books). The benefits to the women are not only economic; the women report an increased sense of empowerment and ability to make their voices heard in local affairs.
I was very impressed with the whole thing. PPI's seed money has been plowed back into a revolving fund and has grown there. The initial success of the project has led the Small Industry Development Bank of India to chip in a substantial amount. So now our funds are part of a larger pool that is being used to expand the microcredit activities in the area.
Bhadravati: You'll recall that this project, recently completed, had several components. I'll report only on the ones that I saw directly.
I was taken to a meeting of a Federation of Environment Protection Committees that have been formed from 53 SHGs in the Bhadravati area. The federation has played a major role in developing grass roots interest in environmental issues and implementing improvements (tree plantations, soak pits, etc) in local communities. It has become recognized as a significant voice on environmental and social issues. The training and education that it needed to get started was provided with our help; now it is poised to carry on the work without Vikasana's direct involvement.
I saw several of the soak pits (what would be called drain fields in Seattle), which provide a cheap and effective means of waste water disposal for homes without sewers. They make the villages cleaner and more mosquito-free and hence are becoming quite popular; their use is now spreading to other areas.
Tank De-siltation: This new project is still in the preliminary stage. The actual de-siltation work is a job for the dry season. The first step, now largely completed, is gathering data on the tanks (historical boundaries and capacity) and on the villages they serve (who lives there, what crops they grow, etc). The second, now under way, is the development of community involvement: education on the benefits of well-maintained tanks and formation of committees representing the whole village to oversee the work. The idea is that the project can be a success only if the villages think of tank maintenance as a community responsibility with benefits for all. (The biggest obstacle is landowners who want to use a tank, or land that used to be a tank, for their own private purposes.) I met with groups in two villages -- one whose De-siltation Committee is already in operation, and one where it is just being organized.