Asraya is a destitute rehabilitation program designed by Kudumbashree. The program is targeted at the poorest of the poor population. While implementing the poverty alleviation programmes, it was observed that the programmes implemented by the Government and other agencies never reach this population. These people, who live in utter distress and despair, constitute a very small number in the society, approximately the bottom two per cent of the total population. Kudumbashree designed a project called Asraya - Destitute Identification Rehabilitation and Monitoring Project for the rehabilitation of destitute families. Destitute families are identified using a transparent risk index framed by the Mission. Individual needs of the family are identified through a participatory need assessment. The project envisaged to address lack of food, health problems including chronic illness, pension, educational facilities to children, land for home, shelter, drinking water, safe sanitation facilities, skill development, employment opportunities, etc.
Asraya started off with a demand based approach. Initially elected heads of the local governments were sensitized on issues affecting the ultra-poor. It was primarily initiated in the gram panchayat areas in the state. Panchayats which were willing to take up the difficult and sensitive task of improving the livelihoods of such people, accept the continuous responsibility and meet at least 75 per cent of the cost of the project were identified for piloting the project.
The Asraya project, supported by State Government was tried in 179 Gram Panchayats in the year 2003. From the XIth Five Year Plan, Asraya programme was universalized and plan preparation began in the remaining gram panchayats, and the urban local bodies. Today,it is implemented in 1042 local bodies, including the gram panchayats, municipalities and corporations across the state.
Resources required for funding different components of the plan are mobilized, as much as possible, from existing schemes and programmes.Since most of the anti-poverty and social welfare programmes have been brought under Local Governments in Kerala the convergence exercise has been made easier. After identifying available resources in this manner the gap is filled up by the untied resources transferred to Local Governments for development purposes.
As an incentive to Local Governments to take up Asraya, Government have committed to provide 40 per cent of the project cost subject to a maximum of Rs.25 lakh as special grant to each of the local bodies. This is known as Challenge fund, and is provided via the Kudumbashree Mission. According to the guidelines for Asraya, the fund allocation has to be on a ratio of 60:40, wherein a minimum of 60 per cent of the funds need to come in from the local government by means of plan fund, convergence with schemes etc. There is no restriction on the amount the local government can contribute towards the project. But all other sources including the challenge fund cannot exceed 40 per cent of the total project cost. Also, the challenge fund cannot be used to meet the infrastructural needs of the Asraya beneficiaries, which needs to be done in convergence with the schemes under the local government or the Plan fund.Special Asraya projects for the tribal population have also been initiated in Local Self Government Institutions where Government provides up to 40 per cent of the project cost subject to a maximum of Rs.40 lakhs.
Since Asraya has tremendous social appeal some of the enterprising local governments have managed to mobilize additional resources by way of donations from philanthropic individuals, sponsorships from institutions, and service commitments from hospitals and so on.