Urban and Rural Initiatives
MSSRF: Enhancing Livelihoods and Food Security through Augmentation of Water and Integrated Dairy Enterprise in Villupuram and Pudukkottai
Two rural villages in India, Villupuram and Pudukkottai have been transformed by the collaboration of AI with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Bioindustrial Watershed Project. Small, marginalized farmers are empowered by the SoCCs system to perform water augmentation activities for enhancing their livelihoods and reinforcing food security. These areas previously did not have the ability to store water for future growing seasons, restricting farmers to grow only long-term crops. These affected farmers were also forced to travel to distant farms to work for other farmers, consequently losing their sense of leadership and independence. Open well rehabilitation and ground water recharge systems have been implemented through this program, enabling farmers to store water for future seasons.
Having the ability to grow seasonal crops has given these farmers a dependable source of income via their own land. An additional component of this project promotes a reliable milk-based income through cattle loans. Participants in this program earn SoCCs for completing farming surveys, planting trees, teaching distant farmers innovative practices, women attending health checkups, and sending female children to school. SoCCs are then redeemed for biofertilizer, seeds, mobile recharge, computer time, toilet construction, school fees and supplies, among others.
Borisinh Village Project
Asia Initiative’s collaboration with Save Indian Farmers (SIF) and Deendayal Trust is enacting self-sustainable change in the lives of 30 farmers and their families in the village of BoriSinh. The villagers are committed to AI’s SoCCs program, which promotes participation in various social initiatives such as monthly meetings, cleaning common areas, women’s health clinics, and daily after-school programs for youth, among others.
The SoCCs earned from such participation can then be redeemed for 25% of the value of a buffalo, which the farmers utilize for the development of small milk businesses. This entrepreneurship provides families with a dependable, non-farming income. As this region experiences unpredictable seasons of monsoon and drought, the project also empowers villagers to build check dams on the local canal to guarantee a year-round water supply. This serves as a sustainable improvement due to the resulting rise of water tables in the surrounding area, as well as the ability of farmers to harvest additional crops from the same land.
Low Cost Housing Projects (in collaboration with URBZ)
We target development in slums by supporting improvements in and construction of ultra low-cost housing. Through the rotating loans provided by Asia Initiatives to Arpana in Delhi, many slum dwellers in the Molarbandh community now have solid, safe homes. Asia Initiatives has also supported URBZ: User Generated Cities, in providing programs for children of Dharavi in Mumbai, as well in running participatory workshops on pressing urban issues. The Dharavi.com website created by URBZ has become the definitive online resource for the residents of Dharavi.
SoCCs in Washington D.C. (in collaboration with Bread for the City and WomenStrong International)
WomenStrong International, in partnership with Bread for the City, a Washington D.C. based organization that helps the city’s most vulnerable women by providing them with resources and supplies needed to increase their standard of living, has launched a SoCCs, or Social Capital Credits, project to help women improve their lives and their communities. Women from disadvantaged backgrounds can redeem SoCC credits for special items from the iSoCCs Spending Menu like gym memberships, job interviewing skills, and bus tickets. In order to get SoCC credits, the women must do certain tasks, like assisting with a community kitchen garden, cleaning up part of a neighborhood, and joining a book club.
The women in this program are victims of poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse, incarceration, and much more. Many not only enjoy the items they receive for doing their services, but often enjoy them, and the sense of community that comes along with it. They seek to not only better themselves, but better the city, and help others who are also in similar situations. You can read more about it here.
Kisumu, Kenya Project Funded by WomenStrong
We partnered with the Alice Visionary Foundation Project (AVFP) and WomenStrong International (WSI) to incentivize individuals in the Manyatta neighborhood of Kisumu to perform social services through the SoCCs program. The largest impact in these communities has been a complete transformation of waste management, including the implementation of a systematic approach to collecting, recycling, and disposal. The community identified three dumping areas to be cleaned and converted into kitchen gardens, which serve as a reliable source of nutritional crops. A sustainable collection system was created in which individuals gather and sort waste, and earn SoCCs based on the weight of waste sent away to designated garbage disposal points. Community members have reflected upon the newfound beauty of their environment, which was once viewed as the slums. In addition to this sense of pride, individuals redeem iSoCCs for umbrellas, solar lights, stoves, and school fees, supplies, and uniforms. The community also redeems CommSoCCs for plastic chairs, tents, and generators.
Due to the success of the first phase of SoCCs implementation, we initiated a second phase that serves as an expansion of activities available for earning SoCCs. Community members can practice improved food hygiene and sanitation, organize for community events, establish youth sports teams, and engage in prenatal and postnatal healthcare programs.
Organic Farming – Save Indian Farmers, Deendayal Trust, AI
In recent years, Indian farmers have struggled financially in the midst of rapid industrial growth, and mentally in an environment characterized by alarmingly high suicide rates. In order to restore hope and prosperity in the lives of these farmers, AI teamed up with Save Indian Farmers and Deendayal Trust to initiate a switch from traditional farming methods to organic farming. A total of 600 farmers and their families benefit financially from the anticipated 1.5 times increase in crop output when utilizing organic methods such as herbal pest controllers, liquid organic fertilizers, and manure fertilizers. We strategically involve the female family members by empowering them to earn SoCCs through participation in monthly meetings, agri-camps, anti-tobacco camps, health camps, and self-help groups. SoCCs may be redeemed for access to training materials, organic fertilizer storage tanks, medical checkups, and expert nutritional advice. In addition to the extra money earned by farmers and their families, participants are expected to experience health and nutrition improvements from eating healthy organic products.
In collaboration with Urbz India, the pilot project in Dharavi is focused on encouraging and incentivizing residents of Dharavi to keep their streets clean and rewarding them with basic necessities like food grains. 60 families are participating in the project for a six month period (initiated in January 2014).
Cha Project, Kolkata, India
The Cha project is focused on the preservation of the historic Chinatown region in Kolkata, and ways to incentivize the local population to contribute to the preservation via SoCCs are currently being explored.