Sarkerpara villagers transformed from extreme poverty

RANGPUR The poor families of Sarkerpara village

under Ramnagar union in Nilphamari have sustainably transformed from extreme

poverty through collective efforts, social, economic and women empowerment.

Some 116 extremely poor households of the village earlier remained

encircled in vicious cycle of generational poverty every year during seasonal

lean periods.

Under the leadership of community leader of Sarkerpara village Anufa

Begum, the villagers began their voyage in 2009 with community-led action

plans based on participatory analysis of extreme poverty to overcome the

curse collectively.

They have become self-reliant with assistance of the 12-year term (2004-

2016) social and economic transformation of the ultra poor (SETU) project of

CARE Bangladesh and the government's massive social safety-net programmes.

Talking to BSS, Anufa Begum said they identified their problems first and

collectively took decision to address those.

The villagers have not only used the project's grants, but also have

mobilised and utilised local resources, potentials and taken collective

actions to overcome poverty, she said.

The villagers soon achieved solvency overcoming poverty through

community-led collective actions, engagement in income generating activities

and with assistance like VGF, VGD and other facilities from local union

parishad, she said.

The transformation started in the village with forming 'Para Unnayan

Committee (PUC)', community-based savings groups, 25-member women's group-

'EKATA' and natural leaders' (community leader) organisation with the SETU

project assistance.

President Sufia Begum of the Para Unnayan Committee of Sarkerpara village

said they first identified open defecation practice as it's a major reason

for frequent diarrhea and dysentery in their community.

We went for Community-led Total Sanitation approach to stop open

defecation, she said, adding that they ensured 100 percent sanitation for

all households within a month under the leadership of Anufa Begum.

After bringing all 116 households under sanitation facilities, the

villagers took collective actions to diversify livelihoods, built their own

organisations and enhancing relations with local Ramnagar union parishad

authorities, Sufia said.

With efforts of the EKATA group members, the village has become clean,

free from water-borne diseases, child marriage, malnutrition, illiteracy,

women repression and able couples, pregnant women and adolescents have

knowledge about health and hygiene.

The villagers formed community based 'Sarkerpara Women Savings Group' with

32 members with Anufa Begum as its Secretary to cope with the lean season

crisis when they had to sale labour in advance and household goods earlier.

They started with saving fistful rice. With increase in earning for

engagement in various types of income generating activities, they turned

their collected fistful rice into cash group raising capital to Taka 18,000

in 2015.

The SETU project then added Taka 20,000 as grant to the savings group to

raise its capital when it started providing loans up to Taka 8,000 among its

members for starting different ventures for the income generating

activities, Sufia added.

Beneficiaries Aklima, Monwara, Tahuza, Sufia, Kakoli and many others said

they took Taka 7,500 to 8,000 each as interest free loans from the group and

invested in off-farm businesses to earn well and lead better life.

Talking to BSS, Chairman of Ramnagar union Md Mizanur Rahman lauded

Sarkerpara villagers for winning over poverty with assistance of the SETU

project and social safety-net programmes setting up a unique example of women

empowerment.

For her fabulous contribution to transformational change and women

empowerment in Sarkerpara village, local people elected Anufa Begum twice as

the female union parishad member from reserved wards of Ramnagar union,

Rahman added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)