The relevance of local response to economic development needs of a community has increased in recent times, what with climate change and issues of food and water security developing hitherto unexpected dimensions. A local community which through its governance and participation structures is able to generate employment, stimulate local production and ensure the well being of the most vulnerable of its people would become a role model of inclusive growth.
Kudumbashree and the People's Plan Campaign
Kudumbashree developed its form almost simultaneously with the Peoples’ Plan Campaign, which saw the placement of the organization in the heart of the decentralized governance systems. Kudumbashree has a direct stake in most of these sectoral plans, and at least an indirect interest as manifestation of the community need of weaker sections of society.
Kudumbashree & NREGS
Under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the ADS of the Kudumbashree are already involved in the execution of projects. Community participation in labour intensive projects is an opportunity for the community based organization of Kudumbashree at the grass roots to bring women to the forefront of the local decision making process, and to address concerns of gender equity in participation.
Kudumbashree & Self Employment
Coming to self employment, it is possible to look at enterprises from three angles – one, of poverty alleviation, two, of local economic development, and three, of enhancing productivity. The perspective that is brought into the plan will influence the focus of the interventions proposed. For instance, a focus on technical aspects of production alone may not address commercial aspects of marketability of produce, and a business angle may overlook the poverty dimensions that can make seemingly viable enterprise opportunities non starters. The challenge in an integrated approach would be to bring in all three perspectives in adequate measure.
This is where the Samagra approach adopted by Kudumbashree becomes relevant. This approach is product or occupation specific, in that it looks to bring in all backward and forward linkages related to technical components, business planning and support together on one platform as an integrated project.
Kudumbashree & Local Level Convergence
Convergence does not mean convergence of government linked resources alone. A local economic development strategy would look at matching community need for work with a local economy’s capability of absorption of work, as well as with the need for services and goods. For this there would need to be an assessment, both of the need for employment, and the nature of employment that is feasible, as well as of the scope for provision of goods and services within a local community. For both the initiative needs to be generated locally. The demand led CDS action plans which try to encapsulate the thrift and credit, farming, enterprise development and wage employment needs of the network are certainly a sounding board for the LSG to undertake local economic development planning to a higher level than is presently being undertaken, and to attempt to have a far more integrated view of the needs of such development, calling for convergence of resources of both departments and civil society organizations/individuals.
It is the mission of the Kudumbashree programme to strengthen both local governments and the women’s community network to take on these challenges and develop their own unique, sustaining model of local economic development.