MGNREGS TO JEEViKA: A Gradual Shift for Sunita Devi

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Posted by: Abhishek Sharma and Aishwarya Bhatia
Category: Livelihoods and Natural Resources
MGNREGS TO JEEViKA: A Gradual Shift for Sunita Devi

In today’s rural landscape, the presence of government interventions is pervasive. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) works to enhance the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage employment. And JEEViKA, a popular name for Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS), is focused on the social and economic empowerment of the rural poor by organizing them and their capacities systematically so that they can access self-employment opportunities.

Sunita Devi, a resident of Barrharakothi block of Purnea district, has had an interesting trajectory of success with the help of these schemes, representing the progress that these programs aim to achieve.

To this day, belonging to a Dalit community is a major impediment for people like Sunita Devi, who aspire to do more and be more than what society seeks from them. To make money, Sunita Devi used to cut her village women’s nails for a meagre amount of money. Having been married at an early age into a poor agricultural labor family, there was not much scope for her to progress in life, especially when it came to education and any stable source of employment.

This is why she opted to become part of the MGNREGS pool of laborers to earn a daily living, even if it meant that she had job security for close to 100 days. But with the work that she had been doing, she also learnt about JEEViKA, after which she convinced women around her to form an SHG called Kabir JEEViKA SHG.

The first step to her successful journey as an SHG member was the loan, and she used it to start a snack stall. She borrowed INR 330 for the same and gradually saw her economic and financial condition stabilizing.

In fact, seeing Sunita Devi’s journey inspired other people in her community to join this initiative and work towards generating self-employment opportunities. Because of the faith she garnered from her peers, she was selected as a master trainer and has trained thousands of women within and outside the state as well!

In fact, Sunita Devi used her growing influence to contribute significantly to the anti-alcoholism campaign and has also been appreciated by the political dignitaries of Bihar for her efforts to promote the toilet construction campaign.

With MGNREGS and JEEViKA, Sunita Devi has improved her livelihood, gained self-confidence, and become a prominent member of her society with the influence to initiate further change for her community!

This is the hope for initiatives at the grassroots level—providing handholding support to individuals till they can support themselves and create opportunities for others to progress as well! Sunita Devi is the perfect example of this hope!

Aishwarya Bhatia, Sambodhi 

Author: Abhishek Sharma and Aishwarya Bhatia