«Greenwich Academic Literature Archive (GALA) Citation: Adolph, Barbara (2003) The role of self-help groups in rural non-farm employment. [Working ...»
Often the VOs are federated at the sub-district level to form e.g. in Andhra Pradesh the Mandal Samakhya. The MS represents all the VOs and the executive body of the MS is made up of locally elected members from the VOs. Their role is to make linkages with Government Departments, audit the SHGs and help with microfinance. The World Bank funded Andhra Pradesh District Poverty Initiative s Project is following this approach, which is similar to the one adopted by some other programmes (see http://www.worldbank.org/participation/APDPIP_case.pdf).
The degree of federation of SHGs, and the effectiveness of the federation, vary from state to state. In Karnataka there were at the end of 2001 more than hundred rural women's SHG federations, collectively claiming over 1.25 lakh members in 6,000 individual SHGs. A stateconfederation has been formed, which will concentrate during the initial phase on capacitybuilding of federation leaders, and the formation and strengthening of district- level federations (http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2002/01/01/stories/2002010103550300.htm).
There are obvious advantages in federation, and all Indian states are following this approach, albeit at different speed. In terms of employment generation and enterprise development, federations are likely to have a much larger impact than individual SHGs, because training and marketing can be organised more rationally. SHG federations also provide the opportunity for poor people to influence policies and to constitute effective pressure groups at the district and state level.
6 Conclusions The literature is full of examples whereby poor women have succeeded in improving their life through membership in SHG. The impact on their lives is not just an economic one gaining more self-confidence is often a more lasting achievement that forms the basis for social and economic improvements. But are SHGs the answer to all development problems in
India? A couple of issues need to be considered when attempting to answer this question:
• How can the participation of the poorest of the poor in SHG be strengthened? More effective targeting mechanisms are required, and SHG programs need to geared towards the specific needs of poor people with hardly any cash income and limited social capital.
• Are SHGs the most effective way of bringing about social and economic change? As was pointed out earlier, some critics believe that a lasting improvement especially of the situation of rural women can only be brought about if their control over and access to resources increases. It might be argued that SHG development needs to go hand in hand with policies that increase women's access to productive resources, especially land.
• Are micro-credit orientated SHGs the most appropriate institutional arrangement for the poorest of the poor? In other words, can poor people save and invest in anything other than consumption? Possibly different types of SHGs are required for different types of people, depending on their specific social and economic conditions and their goals.
References Short articles from the Internet without clear authorship are referenced in the text as Hyperlinks.
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