Axis Bank Foundation (ABF) in partnership with The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme India (AKRSPI) has spearheaded the Dangi Vikas project since January 2013 in the Dangs district of Gujarat. The project supports 22,000 families to enhance their incomes by creating enabling opportunities.
Dangs has hilly forested terrain. It’s a high rainfall region with low water storing capacity. People depend partially on agriculture, micro business and migration for labour as a source of livelihoods. The project aimed to create local income generating opportunities by enhancing the access to water for irrigation and improve agriculture productivity for people with land. For people without land, the project promoted livestock as a source of income. Hemuben is one such example of transformative change in Dangs.
Hemuben Ramesh Bhai belongs to one of the nine surviving ‘Kotwalia’, a primitive tribal group of Kesvandh, a village in Dangs. Low literacy rate, limited skills, the landless community relies on income generated from weaving baskets from bamboo that they harvest areas.
Hemuben’s family was leading a hand-to-mouth existence and depended on her to provide for them. In the absence of any other skills or training, she took to weaving bamboo baskets and would journey from village to village to sell the bamboo baskets to farmers. Her earnings were paltry and insufficient to provide for basic needs like nutritious diet, proper housing, education and healthcare.
In 2013, through the programmes run by ABF and AKRSPI, Hemuben, along with few other women of her community, were trained extensively in the skill of livestock rearing to supplement her basket weaving income and taught how to monetise both businesses so that she could earn more.
Over four years, Hemuben is the proud owner of two cows that yield 12-15 litres of milk each day, giving her a steady source of income. With a better understanding of economics, her annual income from traditional bamboo products has also increased. She is now able to adequately provide for the well-being of her children and has savings. Her children are now getting quality education. With steady income stream, a pucca house and steady savings, Hemuben has plenty of reasons to smile today.