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Mizoram Women Climbing the Economic Ladder

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 12, 2017: More and more women in the Northeastern State of Mizoram are climbing the economic ladder, with a little help from the government. These women, mostly belonging to the poorest of poor households, are taking up alternative livelihood activities like opening petty shops and small businesses or expanding the existing ones like farming, poultry, piggery and goatery.

Women Self-Help Groups, formed under the North East Rural Livelihood Project (NERLP), run by Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Ministry, are working as force multiplier for economic empowerment of individual members. Members of an SHG formed under NERLP take up economic activities either jointly or individually, unlike in an earlier scheme where members of an SHG could work on only one activity.

“We allow members of an SHG to work either jointly or separately unlike an earlier government scheme. This has fetched good results,” said Reuben Ranglong, Aizawl District Project Manager of NERLP. Observing that group activities and individual efforts have both shown successes, he gave an example of a women tailoring SHG in Sihphir village in Tlangnuam block.

Ten members of the group, aged between 25 and 45, started the tailoring unit with a little financial assistance from NERLP. Every member of the group now earns about Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 a month, besides giving employment to five other women.

“Similarly, an individual member of another SHG in the village expanded her poultry business after taking loan from the group. 54-year-old Lalchhuanthangi earned about Rs 3,45,000 last year. Her husband who earlier used to do odd jobs now works full-time in poultry,” he said, adding that there are many such success stories.

Under NERLP, an SHG is given Rs 1 lakh in three instalments over a period of one year. “Our focus is on training and capacity-building of SHG members and we monitor their progress regularly,” Reuben said. “At present, 1,604-odd SHGs with 10 members each are functioning in Aizawl district. We have already covered 95 per cent of the over 3,920 poorest of the poor households,” he said.

Aizawl district houses nearly 40 per cent of Mizoram’s total 10.90 lakh population. The project is also operational in the State’s second
largest district by population, Lunglei. Despite initial success, SHG members are facing a few problems. According to them, getting loan from banks to further expand their activities and link with the market remain big hurdles. “We need support so that we can sell our produce in the market at the right price. And bank loans too are not easily accessible,” said an SHG member.

In its latest implementation  status and results report, the World Bank, which funds NERLP, said the progress was “moderately satisfactory”. However, only 30 per cent of the fund could be utilised so far in the project which is set to end in March 2019.

Asked why fund utilisation was low, a project official said, “Even though the project was officially launched in 2012, implementation on the ground could be started in mid-2013. Due to non-expenditure of allotted fund in the first two years, the total utilisation stands at 30 per cent.” The objective of NERLP is “to improve rural livelihoods, especially that of women, unemployed youths and the most disadvantaged, in four Northeastern States of Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.”

-PTI (source: northeasttoday.in)



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