About Economic Development
CRUSADE is AVI's partner in north Tamil Nadu. It's approach is to encourage women to start self help (micro-credit) groups. These groups give the women access to finance and act as a forum for mutual support. There are now more than 500 groups with over 8,000 members, and these groups are federated at village and project level.
The federation of micro-credit groups is now registered as a trust. It takes responsibility for supporting the groups and managing the project level funds and the groups' links with banks.
CRUSADE now organises training programmes and works with the women to develop new programmes to meet local needs and fill gaps in state provision.
Photo by: Simon Williams
CRUSADE has two priorities for its work:
• Working with the "ultra-poor": CRUSADE is now supporting women who have not joined a self-help group. These women's situation is desperate. They are often widowed and/or abandoned and left with small children. Small-scale support such as books, so their children can go to school, or medicines for health conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes, make a real difference to their lives. CRUSADE has also established a fund to enable these ultra-poor women to access financial assistance to improve their houses. Please see below for Lalitha's case study and photos of her house before and after CRUSADE's support;
• People living with disabilities: CRUSADE recognises that people living with disabilities are most likely not to be able to participate in micro-credit groups and to have been assessed for disability assistance by getting an identity cards, which make them eligible for government schemes. Two groups of people with disabilities have formed and opened bank accounts. With this additional support and network, the members have begun to receive grants and allowances and some have started small businesses such as tailoring and goat rearing.
How AVI supports CRUSADE
AVI has been CRUSADE's main funder since 1994. The current funded programmes are as follows:
1. Women's Development: using the SHG group structure to increase awareness of health and sanitation, deliver skill training, improving housing and increasing women's involvement in village level democracy.
2. Local democracy: building a Tamil Nadu-wide network of elected panchayat members who are keen to see the local government system work more effectively, with less corruption and deliver better services to the people.
Lalitha's house before CRUSADE's support
Lalitha's house after CRUSADE's support
It is estimated that there are 700 million people living on less than $1.90 a day, the majority of whom live in South Asia. Lalitha's story illustrates the reality for these people. Lalitha has no land, is illiterate and lives alone in a small thatched house with mud walls in a remote place at the end of Inamagaram village. Since her husband's passing Lalitha has found it extremely difficult to make ends meet. Years of toil have taken a toll on her health. She is only 53 although appears much older. Her hardship is compounded by the work available to her which is casual, according to seasonal demand and when available from the government employment programme. Although she has been a member of a self-help group for many year she has never been able to contribute to the groups savings and consequently has not had access to a loan. As her house's thatched roof leaked Lalitha approached CRUSADE for assistance. CRUSADE helped her buy the roof materials and met part of wages for the work. Lalitha also contributed to meeting some of the building costs.
More information on CRUSADE- For more information on CRUSADE you can visit their website http://www.crusade-india.org/
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