Forming Self-Help Groups

The women of the selected families are the main stakeholders of the project. They form village-based self-help groups consisting of 10 to 20 members. The groups select one Chairperson, one Secretary and one Cashier. Together with them, project staff facilitate the weekly group sessions in which all project activities are explained and discussed. In the framework of these meetings, the project participants also receive trainings on specific income generating activities based on their Family Development Plans as well as on rights-based issues, sanitary-, health- and nutrition-related matters and on disaster management.

Generally, the village groups allow the women to better interact with each other, share their views, build a sense of solidarity and enhance the overall impact of their efforts to improve their livelihoods. They establish communication channels with local authorities and service providers. Together they assert their rights and claim access to the social safety net and other services they are entitled to. When injustice strikes at the village level, the groups become active (e.g. in the prevention of early marriages or domestic violence). Furthermore, they guarantee the continuation of the activities after the phase out of the intervention.

Once a village group has gained sufficient strength, they elect representatives who form groups on municipal level - so called federations - to assert their interests on a higher political level (for details please see the point Tackling Structural Issues). Especially these federations gradually take over the project’s management responsibilities guaranteeing that eventually the activities are fully put into the hands of the participants. The graphic below illustrates the structure and responsibilities of the groups: