J&K Rural Livelihood Mission manufactured 1.50 lakh masks through self-help groups in Jammu division

Jammu: In response to COVID-19, face mask production has been initiated by self help groups (SHGs) members in 18 blocks covering 10 districts of the J&K UT under the Ministry of Rural Development’s National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM). Women Self Help Groups in J&K have risen to the extraordinary challenge of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. They are meeting short falls in masks, sanitizers, fighting misinformation and even providing banking and financial solutions to far-flung communities.
Meeting the shortfall in masks, and IEC Campaigns to Combat COVID-19, more than ever, these women – many of whom escaped poverty through the SHG route and know what it is like to be destitute and poor – are living up to their motto of self-help and solidarity. Groups across all the districts of J&K UT are working furiously to make up the shortfall of masks. In Jammu, poor rural women who were once engaged in stitching school uniforms are sewing masks instead. Over the past couple of weeks, these women have produced more than 1.50 lakh cotton masks.
Additional Mission Director JKRLM Jammu, Sham Lal informed that more than 1.50 lakh masks have been produced by some 395 SHGs across 10 districts of J&K UT so far in addition to over 500, liters of hand wash within community. Since production is decentralized, these items have reached widely-dispersed populations without the need for complex logistics and transportation. Women’s groups are also disseminating Covid related messages among hard-to-reach populations. In Jammu division of J&K UT is spearheading the government’s break the chain campaign by raising awareness about hand hygiene and social distancing through mobile phones, posters and weekly meetings the UT SHG platform – is spreading the word about hand washing, quarantine and self-isolation through leaflets, songs, videos and phone messages by the support of Concern Block Programme Managers.
Including stitching masks our community has astonished everyone by knowledge distribution on sanitizing their homes and the surroundings and have also taken up the “Ek Muthi Chawal” activity. The concept has already been integrated in the JKRLM, were the SHG members who have been consistent in running their livelihood, contributed a handful of rice grains, it would be collected and given to vulnerable members. Same concept has been taken up and most of the stable SHG members are contributing. The members of SHG’s brought forth their compassionate and empathetic side and generously donated food material like rice, pulses and vegetables to the vulnerable and underprivileged at the village level. The gesture enthused in members a feeling to extend a helping hand in times of need.
Regarding banking services, since access to finance is critical for people to sustain themselves during the lockdown, SHGs women who also work as banking correspondents have emerged as a vital resource. Deemed as an essential service, these bank sakhis have continued to provide doorstep banking services to far-flung communities, in addition to distributing pensions and enabling the most neediest to access credits into their accounts through direct benefit transfers (DBT). JKRLM have given these women special orientation and provided them with financial incentives to enable them to continue to work during the lockdown.
“In these extraordinary times, when we are all united in our fight against the Covid 19 virus, these women’s groups are playing a critical role,” said the AMD JKRLM Jammu. Across the country, women’s SHGs have risen to this extraordinary challenge with immense courage and dedication’’. “Their quick response to food insecurity and shortages in goods and services shows how this decentralized structure can be a vital resource in a time of crisis. The strength of J&K rural women will continue to be essential in building back economic momentum after the most critical period is over,” the AMD added”

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