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CAF Global Alliance

EMPOWERING MARGINALISED COMMUNITIES

An initiative between CAF India and their corporate partners that is helping to change the experience of Dalit women.

Giving the marginalised a voice

Invisible, excluded, outcasts - this would sum up the experience of Dalit women in India.

Otherwise called the "Untouchables," Dalit women belong to one of the most socially and economically vulnerable groups in India, and are at greater risk of sexual abuse, violence, early child marriage and human trafficking.

An initiative between CAF India, their corporate partner Oracle, and NGO partners (Action Aid and Association for Rural Planning and Action) is helping to break that cycle, by empowering Dalit women to join farmers’ groups and start farming in their own fields.

Together, they have successfully formed 16 collectives, employed organic farming techniques to increase production of chemical-free safe food; created seed banks and goat banks; and learned new methods to package and market their produce, working towards a stable and sustainable income.

The programme has been successful in not just increasing the income of these Dalit women, but has given them a newfound confidence.

The women have become strong advocates of women’s rights and encourage more women to collectively voice concerns against domestic violence, sexual abuse, child trafficking and child marriage.

Setting the scene

Around 750 Dalit women reside within the picturesque mountains of Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand.

In 2016, CAF India sought out to work with this community of women to enable them to earn an income and ensure food security for their families.

The organisation secured grants from Oracle and supported its NGO partners to initiate and implement the programme.

The newly trained farmers now have a new sustainable source of income and are trained in climate resilient farming techniques, including System of Root Intensification for paddy and vegetable crops.

As a result of this there has been increase in agricultural yield by 20%.

The women also became connected to various government schemes, which were previously inaccessible to them.

The programme helped women like Bindu, a 39-year-old mother of five who learned how to revive a barren piece of land.

She said: “For years, our small piece of land lay uncultivated. But when I became a member of the collective, I learnt new farming techniques through various workshops. I was given seeds and tools, with which I revived my barren piece of land.”

Like Bindu, the group of women are now able to grow organic vegetable and grains in their small lands, ensuring food security for their family, and earning a good income from selling the crop at the local farmer’s market.

About the Dalit community

In India, women’s contribution to the agriculture sector remains largely unrecognised and less lucrative in comparison to men.

Conditions in the Pittoragarh district are not always optimal, as agriculture is rain fed and driven by subsistence farming.  

Migration of the young generation in search of better economic options has also reduced the workforce capacity required in the hilly terrain.

The increased incidents of crop depredation by wildlife have also contributed to further decline in the farming sector.

A study conducted by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) shows that farming of 30 traditional crops has been abandoned in Pittoragarh district in the last decade due to climate change and migration.

group of women

CAF INDIA AND THE CAF GLOBAL ALLIANCE

CAF India is a partner of the CAF Global Alliance, a network of nine locally-led, independent organisations that work across six continents. Over the last 25 years, the Global Alliance and its international presence has led to breakthroughs and social change that has had a positive effect on the lives of millions of vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities.

As one of the most disaster prone areas of the world, one of the core areas of CAF India’s work is to support vulnerable communities by constructively engaging with donors, civil society and government authorities to respond to disasters.

CAF India is member of Charter for Change which emphasizes local partnerships and routing more funds to local organisations. The team believe in this and work very closely with local implementation partners that are carefully selected through a rigorous due diligence process.

CAF Global Alliance

By working with donors, the CAF Global Alliance has helped make a real difference to charities of all sizes around the world.

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