In the communities we serve, securing stable sources of food and income is increasingly challenging.
Our programmes focus on economic empowerment, particularly of women, and agriculture. Working through volunteers and closely in partnership with the private sector is crucial to building a resilient India.
Women's economic empowerment
Indian women have the second lowest labour force particpation rate (30%) of all the countries in which VSO works.
Where they are participating they are much more likely to be in technical rather than managerial positions, a fact reflected in the inequity of earned income - women in India receive 62% of a male salary.
Food security challenges
Agriculture provides livelihood support to about two thirds of India’s population and employment to 58.4% of country’s work force which is the single largest private sector occupation. More than that, it is crucial to the nation's food security - fostering rapid and sustained agricultural growth is a priority agenda.
However, food insecurity in the most deprived parts of India is getting more acute by the day, with increasing pressure on land, rapid environmental degradation, frequent natural calamities, and inequitable distribution of resources.
Stabilising agriculture and looking for new livelihood options for smallholder food producers are two of the most urgent developmental challenges India faces. The priority areas are: combating drought; increasing the productivity of agriculture and allied activities; strengthening and generating farm-based livelihoods; and linking micro-finance to new livelihood efforts.
Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) project
Systematic Rice Intensification technology aims to increase agricultural productivity whilst using less water. Our SRI project brings together training for women farmers on creating sustainable avenues for addressing issues that inhibit them from exploiting their livelihood opportunities. It creates greater opportunities for poor and marginalised communities, particularly women by enhancing their skills, awareness, knowledge and bringing in linkages to markets and financial institutions.
The project comprises training, the setting up of self help groups (SHGs) and volunteer group mobilisation.
Evaluation sample surveys thus far have demonstrated sizeable and statistically significant income and poverty reduction gains from participation in the project. Longer term sustainability, especially of the group-based organisational model was examined and proved useful.
We are now in a phase of scaling the project, hoping to replicate these gains for a broader group of participants. Download the case studies below to learn about the impact so far of these programmes that have already reached thousands of rural and tribal women: