Barabanki Weaver’s Development Project - Background
Barabanki Weaver’s Development Project: Facilitating Secondary Livelihoods Development through Financial Inclusion ofExcluded Weaver Communities and Providing Holistic Development Opportunities to Children of Weaver Families in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh.
District Barabanki is located at a distance of 29 km to the east of Lucknow, the Capital of Uttar Pradesh. The region is known for its age old weaving industry, predominantly run by household units using traditional hand weaving techniques. Over the years the industry has seen a steady decline due to the mechanization of weaving processes, as well as increasing fluctuations in domestic and international orders for hand woven cloth and garments. The quantities of orders from export houses have declined by over 50%-70% as compared to orders in the past. Moreover, the supply chain in the trading and exporting of hand woven cloth has for years been breading exploitation at the hands of numerous middlemen, thus
further reducing income earnings for the poor weaver families in the midst of economic turmoil. Due to lack of adequate income earning opportunities, the communities have paid minimal or no attention to the education of their children, a majority of which have either not been enrolled into schools or have been forced to drop out after attaining basic primary literacy, in order to be of assistance in domestic or labour work. The communities have been severely excluded, left grappling under exploitative and abysmal working conditions, with no means to either increase income earnings through the weaving profession, or to initiate alternative means of livelihood generation.
The Barabanki Weaver’s Development Projectwas initiated in 2011, with the intent to work towards the socio-economic development of the weaver community in villages of Darhara, Nainamau, Masauli, and Zaidpur in Barabanki. The project is being funded jointly by UK-AID (DFID) and Monsoon Accessorize Trust, U.K., and has the following key components:
1. Improving livelihoods and socio-economic conditions of home workers in the weaving trade in Barabanki, through development of a secondary livelihoods programme and assistance through financial inclusion and support in micro-enterprise development. This includes providing credit and livelihood, or
micro enterprise development support to poor and vulnerable weaver families, linking the youth with vocational trades, providing adult literacy and financial literacy to women from the weaver families, and ensuring fair price (as per ETI guideline) to the weavers for orders of woven cloth placed by Monsoon.
2. Providing holistic development opportunities to out-of-school or drop-out children and adolescents from the weaver families. This includes operating non formal education centers and adolescent development centers for non-school going children, drop-out child labor, and adolescents from the weaver families, and mainstreaming them into the formal education system through admission to schools wherever possible.
The principal strategies of the project were reworked at the beginning of 2012 (as presented above), with the aid of challenges identified and lessons learnt from experience duringthe first year of project implementation in 2011. The strategy refinement process was an inclusive one wherein all stakeholders played a focal role in identifying the larger needs of the programme and in implementing strategies suited to meet them. Local weavers from the project areas expressed their need for financial (credit) and technical (Micro Enterprise Development) support both for existing livelihood (weaving) and for “Alternative Livelihood” (other businesses). Monsoon too decided to ensure the payment of minimum wages to all weavers involved in the production of their orders in Barabanki, andto follow the guidelines of the Ethical Trade Initiative. ASK was instrumental in identifying and suitably initiating measures to meet the community’s requirements, while also laying strong focus on meeting the need for education of the children and the youth, as a critical support service.
Key Highlights: (Updated in February 2013)
68 weaver’s common interest groups have been formed with 339 weavers. All 339 weavers have either strengthened their weaving work or started alternative / new enterprises or both by means of access to credit and livelihood support from the project. Their fears and apprehensions regarding credit have been removed through a people-friendly and flexible credit & livelihood programme.
An assessment of “increase in income” in 232 weaver families who were provided livelihood & credit support from the project found that there was an increase in income as compared to their baseline income,for216 families (93%).
A November 2012 survey of all 232 families found that all children aged 5-14 years are going to school / education centers and no “child labour” has been reported among them.
196 youth from the weaver families have linked themselves with skill development programmes other than weaving, as per market demand and interest. These include computer software courses, driving courses, mobile repairing, and beautician training,among others.
Exclusion of the women from the development process was identified to be another concern in the community. Rapport building activities to gain the faith of the community have been successful in bringing 68 women to attend adult and financial literacy programmes. 339 women have joined the Common Interest Groups for accessing credit facilities for their households, which in the long term will help build their participation in household financial decision making.For gender mainstreaming and inclusion, the project has been continuously making efforts to motivate men and women, as well as adolescents and children of both genders, to actively participate in project interventions. As a result, both boys and girls are enrolled at the Non-Formal Education Centers, both male & female adolescents are included in the adolescent development programme, and 68 women are taking part in the adult & financial literacy programme.
100% of the products sourced by Monsoon are cost accounted forby using ETI methodology for calculating piece rate. Suppliers and Sub-Contractors of Monsoon are now fully supportive of the project. Theyhave received training on the ETI piece rate methodology and are facilitating its implementation. Costs for all piece styles since August 2012 have been calculated and produced using the ETI methodology. 50 weavers are now using Workers Hand Books or Reference Books with enabling them to keep entries of actual payments made.
164 adolescents and 303 children are now able to access development opportunities through 10 centers spread across the project area, positively contributing tothe reduction in child labour, and enabling many adolescents for the first time to voice theiraspirations for a better future.