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      Note from CEO, Dept of PR & RD
Note from C.E.O., Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty, Dept. of P.R. & R.D. Govt. of A.P.Scheduled Tribes Co-operative Finance Corporation Limited, Hyderabad
Indira Kranthi Patham and the Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) movement in Andhra Pradesh

Indira Kranthi Patham (IKP) is a nationally and internationally acclaimed initiative of the State of Andhra Pradesh. It is a programme for empowering the rural poor families to move out of poverty through the networks of Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations. Poverty is multi-dimensional and the S.H.Gs are central to the state's strategy for holistic poverty eradication. The Self Help Groups of A.P., their Village Organisations Mandal Samakhyas together constitute the biggest network of poor people's organizations in the World. These institutions have made enormous contribution to the empowerment of rural poor and have enabled the poor to move up on the economic dimension and also on the social dimensions.

A large number of developmental professionals and organizations from across the World have visited Indira Kranthi Patham and acclaimed its strength and sustainable approaches for poverty reduction. Very recently, the World Bank President had spent a day interacting with the Self Help Groups of women in Andhra Pradesh and stated that he has never seen such a programme anywhere in the World.

The Best Practices of the Indira Kranthi Patham which are acclaimed universally are:
TARGETING OF POOR. The identification of the Poorest of the Poor and the poor families has been done by the village community themselves through a participatory approach. This statewide participatory exercise of enumerating 1.42 crore households in the rural areas and classifying each family as ultra-poor, poor, above poverty line and non-poor on the basis of indicators selected by the community is first of its kind in the country. The poverty document is being utilized for targeting anti-poverty measures.
WOMEN SELF-HELP MOVEMENT- UNIVERSAL COVERAGE - The women's movement in A.P. is the largest in the country and accounts for more than 40 percent of the total Self Help Groups in the country. The goal is to cover all rural poor women into Self Help Groups. Out of 80 Lakh poor families in the State, around 67 lakhs (84%) had been organized into Self Help Groups in the rural areas by March 2005. It is expected that by March, 2006, 95 percent of the rural poor would be organized.
INSTITUTIONAL DESIGN - The process of federation of all Self Help Groups into Village Organizations into Mandal Samakhyas and Mandal Samakhyas in to Zilla Samakhyas in unique to the state of Andhra Pradesh and is one of the major achievements of the Project. This institutional arrangement enables the S.H.Gs to access financial services and public services effectively. The challenge is in ensuring that these institutions become financially and managerially self- sustaining.
CAPACITY BUILDING OF INSTITUTIONS OF POOR. The systematic training given to Self Help Groups, Village Organizations, mandal Samakhyas and Zilla Samakhyas on such a large scale is un-precedented in the country. This is done through a large number of village level social activists and para-professionals and a large number of young and committed development professionals. The unique feature in the project is that all of them are accountable to the people's institutions - M.S.s and V.Os.
FINANCIAL ACCESS. The Self Help Groups in Andhra Pradesh have accessed Bank loans to a tune of Rs. 1200 Crores in 2004- 05 and a target of Rs. 2200 Crores has been set for 2005 - 06. The Self Help Groups have demonstrated a very high repayment record (more than 95 percent). Andhra Pradesh accounts for 40 percent of the total funds given to Self Help Groups through banks.
COMMUNITY MANAGED FOOD SECURITY. The Food Security initiative under Rice Credit Line covered 5.0 Lakh families by March-2005. This year another 6.0 Lakhs families are being covered. This is the largest such intervention in the country.
REACHING OUT TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITY. The Disability interventions, which have enabled more than 1.0 Lakh persons with disabilities in the rural areas to be organized and develop their own livelihoods is the largest initiative.
COLLECTIVE MARKETING. The S.H.G. federations have enhanced returns to their poor 0producer members in selling their agriculture, horticulture, forest produce and medicinal plants at the village level. This activity ahs been undertaken by more than 650 V.Os in the state and has benefited more than 75000 members. They have handled 57 different commodities. Based on their marketing capabilities the State Government has entrusted the operation of Minimum support price intervention at village level for maize to the V.Os.
GREEN INITIATIVE. The country's largest non-pesticide management in agriculture initiative is underway in the state and is being implemented by the S.H.Gs with support from N.G.Os. An area of 24000 acres is being covered with this initiative. Based on the success this year, it is proposed to scale it up 10 times next year to cover 2.5 lakh acres.
COMMUNITY MANAGED HEALTH AND NUTRITION INTERVENTIONS. In order to strengthen the capability of the ppor to handle their health issues the project has initiated interventions like health risk fund, preventive health education and community health activists, nutrition centers for pregnant and lactating mothers, medical care cover for their members by tying up with private medical college and hospital, life insurance run by Zilla samakhya, etc.
GENDER INTERVENTIONS through family counseling centers, balika sanghams, campaigns against alcoholism, etc.
CONVERGENCE. The convergence of all Line Departments with the activities of the Self Help Groups and their federations is very unique. The Secretaries and Head of Departments of Key departments like Health, Education, Nutrition, Disability, land Administration, Forest, etc have been pro-active in involving the Self Help Groups and their federations in the activities of their departments. The active role of the District Collectors in forging convergence between various line departments and the SHGs and their federations within the district is a very commendable system in A.P.
Community Resource Persons: The fundamental principle of the Project is the belief in the strength of the poor. The invaluable and unmeasurable energy is brought out through the talented and skillful women of the SHGs, called community Resource Persons (CRPs), who have demonstrated the pro-poor initiatives in their SHGs. These women, selected by the Village Organizations and Mandal Samakhyas, are trained and utilized as consultants or Resource Persons for organizing the women into SHGs and also for strengthening of Village Organizations and Mandal Samkahyas in other districts. The SAPAP districts of Kurnool, Anantapur - have largely contributed for the emergence of the Community Resource Persons and they have immensely added value in building up the strengths of these Community Based Organisations in other districts.
SHGs and their federations as Community based micro finance institutions

The SHG is a collective of poor women belonging to the same socio-economic group. The Self Help Group of women promoted in the State of Andhra Pradesh have the following distinctive features:-

» The SHGs hold regular meetings once in a week/fortnight/month
» The members save Rs.30-40 a month in the group
» The Group's corpus comprising of members own savings and accumulated interest is used for giving loans to the members.
» The SHGs maintain their own books of accounts
» The SHGs have demonstrated their abilities to manage their funds and establish linkage with the Banks. Banks provide bulk loans to the SHGs for on-lending to the members. The SHGs have been lent Rs.1200 crores by the commercial banks in 2004-05. In order to reduce the interest burden of the poor, the state Government is supporting the SHGs through 'Pavalavaddi'. The SHGs are provided a corpus fund, which is the differential between the interest rate charged by the banks and 3% rate of interest. This measure is to encourage SHGs to maintain 100% repayment track record and to reduce their financial burden.
» The SHGs have assisted the members in expanding their asset base and livelihood options by taking wide range of income generating activities.
» The SHGs of Andhra Pradesh are distinct by virtue of their pro-active engagement in social issues such as elimination of child labour, domestic violence, caste discrimination etc.
» The SHGs in their meetings discuss such as health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS. These discussions have contributed to expand the knowledge base of the poor women on health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS.
There are 67.0 lakh women organized into SHGs, out of 80.0 lakh rural poor in the state. On an average, there are 15-25 SHGs in a Village. All such SHGs are federated into Village Organization (VO). The Village Organisation is a Community Based Organisation(CBO) represented by all the SHGs in the Village. The Village Organizations represent the voice of the poor and give visibility to the issues of the poor in every village. Such Village Organizations are promoted in almost all the Villages in Andhra Pradesh. There are 25,877 Village Organizations continuously being nurtured under Indira Kranthi Patham in Andhra Pradesh. These Village Organizations have evolved into micro finance institutions, which have mastered the best practices of a micro finance institution.

The State Government provides substantial fund support to Village Organizations, under the Indira Kranthi Patham through their MSs for on lending to the Groups. So far Rs.700 Crores of Community Investment Fund(CIF) is provided to the Village Organizations under Indira Kranthi Patham, which is given as loan to the SHGs for on lending to the members for income generation activities. The Village Organizations are ensuring near 100% recovery of their loaning portfolio. The Village Organizations are also accessing bulk loans from the Banks to on-lend to the members. The Village Organisations provide many other services such as monitoring the functioning of SHGs, audit support to the SHGs, preparation of household investment plans and micro credit plans at SHG level and facilitate access to credit from Banks to the SHGs.

The networking of SHGs of women has not stopped at Village level. The Village Organisations are federated at Mandal level (Mandal is an administrative unit covering a cluster of 30-40 Villages). The Mandal Samakhya is represented by all the representations and plays an effective role in securing convergence with various line Departments. There are 864 Mandal Samakhyas receiving continuous support under Indira Kranthi Patham. The remaining 232 mandals are being covered this year.
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