Srinivasan Services Trust (SST) celebrates International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

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Chennai: This year we are celebrating 25th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This milestone is a reminder to us that despite all efforts there is a lot to be done to end poverty all around the world. This year United Nations has formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals which contains a detailed framework for “ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions.”

Eradication of poverty has long been discussed. In order to achieve this, many strategies have also been evolved. Over 300 million people in India are reported to be living in extreme poverty. They do not have access to even basic amenities of life. Needless to say that financial security leads to greater confidence and a greater capacity to learn and helps people to empower themselves. We believe that there are three major avenues for providing financial security to a family. These are:

a. Women Empowerment: Encouraging women to participate in income generation activities not only helps in supplementing family income and but helps in educating them to take independent financial decisions for themselves and their families. SST works through the concept of Self Help Groups (SHGs) to make women gain greater control over resources, human and intellectual capital of knowledge, information and ideas and financial resources. Women are encouraged and taught to take independent financial decisions for themselves and their families. This becomes possible once they become financially independent themselves, through the various income generation projects run by SST in communities.

b. Agriculture & Livestock Management: SST has worked very relentlessly in the area of agriculture productivity with a multi-pronged approach aimed at key drivers such as environmental factors, technology and quality of seeds, education of farmers, irrigation etc. Farmers are introduced to modern agricultural practices such as integrated nutrition management, pest control, mechanization and use of technology, organic farming etc., which help make agriculture more profitable today. There is a focus on environment, soil and water conservation which helps in increasing agricultural yield. We help farmers adopt modern agriculture practices for better yield and increased incomes. Another important source for increasing income for rural families is livestock management. It helps to improve food and nutritional security and also to generate income and employment in case of crop failure, thus leading to financial security. We work with villagers to enable them to adopt improved livestock management practices. SST, along with government schemes and initiatives, has helped to take practices of livestock management to every farmer in its project areas. SST has focused its efforts on proper nutrition for the animals, preventive healthcare of livestock, shed management, disease control and ensuring higher productivity cycle.

c. Youth Employment: SST helps identify the gaps in skills that prevail in the rural areas and train the youth in relevant skills to enable them to find employment within a 20-25 kms radius of their homes. SST has been working in the area of skill development and employability for youth through capacity building, livelihood programmes, vocational training, career counseling, skill development opportunities and jobs that help rural youth to be gainfully employed. In the course of last two years, SST has been able to train a substantial number of youth and almost 90% of them are gainfully employed

In SST, we believe women empowerment is one effective way to reduce poverty. Our experience has been income earned by women is utilized for the welfare of the families. Unfortunately these women almost invariably utilize their income for the welfare and wellbeing of their families. In SST, we have enabled over 12,600 SHGs have been formed. 171,391 women have their own additional income which provides them much required financial security. These women are micro-entrepreneurs and have borrowed Rs.208.62 crores from the bank. We in SST, proud to say that there has been no single default in repayments. Today, they have generated over Rs.690 crores per year in rural areas. This has helped to bring about all-round improvement in the education, health and environmental problems that the villages face. SHGs have assisted in bringing unity and empower women.

Key highlights of the SST empowered villages over last 21 years:

Over 183,948 women are enrolled in 12,657 self-help groups
Of these, 171,391 have become micro entrepreneurs and generate income worth of over Rs. 690 crores per year
About 347,716 Ha land is covered under improved modern agriculture practices and 273,004 farmers have got yield above the state average
Over 245,367 families earn an income more than Rs. 3,500 per month through livestock
Over 62,711 youth trained in various vocational skills and 61,335 of them are employed earning a minimum income of Rs. 5,000 per month
454,479 families earn more than Rs. 15,000 per month which provides them with much needed financial security
661,610 families (comprising of 91% of population in project villages) have individual savings bank accounts
Dependence on money lenders for consumption purposes has reduced dramatically, from 12 % to 2%