VOICES: Oxfam learning event “There is no I in TEAM”Community groups are becoming increasingly involved in how, what andwhen change happens at a local level. Supporting community groups toarticulate their own needs and desires and giving them the confidence toinfluence decisions that affect their own lives is an important influencingstrategy: collective action is much more powerful than individual action.Managing the dynamics in these groups and keeping the group togetherand focused on the issue can be challenging however. In this sessionpartners will share their community mobilisation strategies, the processesand methods they have developed to work with groups and the successesand challenges they have had to overcome to create and sustain changeat a local level.
Planned Outcomes of the session• Partners share and learn some of the successful ways inwhich community groups have been involved in change intheir communities.• Partners identify dynamics and issues that need to beaddressed in community groups and some strategies thatcan be used to address them.
Vision: Socially and economically empoweredwomen within households made vulnerable bypoverty, the impact of HIV and AIDS, genderinequalities and other societal injustices.Mission: Sinamandla assists, capacitates andsupports local South African non-profit andcommunity-based organisations to promote self-reliance in the communities they serve.See www.sinamandla.org.za
Mobilising women for change- The SHG approach focuses on the poorest and mostvulnerable sections of the community, organising women intostrong affinity groups (called SHGs) so that they are no longervoiceless and powerless individuals.- Second, it helps women realize their potential as individualsthrough initiating a savings and loan system whereby themembers in the group save from their own meager resourcesand administer their own fund.-Third, it improves capacity and builds competence through aseries of training modules provided by a local implementingorganisation that can support the processes which increaseself-confidence, develop self-reliance, and help SHGmembers to set their own agenda.
Mobilising women for change-The final component is building the model through clusteringsix to ten SHGs into a Cluster Level Association (CLA) towork on the things that cannot be done by SHGs themselveseffectively, such as linkages and coordinating largercommunity projects.- Eventually eight or more CLAs can be clustered togetherinto a formalized network called a Federation (operating atdistrict level).
A Self-help Group (SHG) is usually made up of 15-20 members fromamong women identified as the poorest in the community. SHG membershave a common objective of working together for their economic and socialdevelopment and also for their overall village development● Each SHG meets weekly, has group leadership on rotational basis, has a book-writer to keep records and develops own rules and regulations.● SHG members take small loans form their group’s savings for urgent consumption needs , developmental needs of their children and for micro business.● Interest is charged and is added to the group income.
A Cluster Level Association (CLA) is usually made up of 6-10 SHGs from aspecific geographic area. Each SHG elects 2-3 representatives to the CLA.A CLA is not a superior body to the SHG but rather a representative bodythat carries out specific tasks on behalf of its SHGs.● CLAs takes up the social, economic and political issues that are beyond the scope of the individual SHGs and it works on building a People’s institution towards empowerment .● CLAs have own objectives and activities that are different to SHGs.● Each CLA implements its activities and projects through sub-committees.
A Federation (or Network of CLAs) involves setting up a super-ordinate association in which each CLA is represented by 2-3 members. Forming a Federation is an important step in taking over the administration tasks from the supporting NGO partner, which now steadily withdraws from the SHG process over a period of two years. Strong SHGs and CLAs are needed before a Federation can be formed.Main tasks of the Federation are:● advocacy and lobbying;● fundraising and financial management of the wider system;● concentration on the problems and issues which are important for the whole geographic area that it covers.
SINAMANDLA PARTNERS Specific data on Sinamandla partners In Sinamandla and their SHGs in 2012 partnersNumber of functional SHGs/CLAs 400/30Number of SHG members 6 100Total Amount of Savings of all SHGs R1,600,000Total Amount of Loans of all SHGs R4,200,000Total number of loans given by all SHGS 30 000Household members of all SHG members 35 000Number of initiated SHG projects 600+
Success in the SHG approach Sufficient food – no one goes hungry Meeting school expenses – uniform, transport, stationary Home building/renovations Breaking loan shark interest cycle Saving (in various ways) Investing in income-generating activities Using SHG small loans effectively
More success… Major social and psychological benefits Improved community relations and social cohesion Greater civic activities – assisting others and mobilising around human rights Improved health – as a consequence of access to services and in health education Improved women’s status at home and in the community
What are the benefits to SHG members, their families and communities?1. Poor women who are isolated and powerless, soon realise that they are no longer alone.2. Each member becomes empowered as they feel a sense of ownership and belonging.3. As they share their problems and start solving them, they gain a sense of pride.4. Consequently they are recognized and respected by their families, stake-holders and the community.
Mobilising around GBV & HIV/AIDSWomen facilitated into SHGs gain recognition and are respectedby their families, stake-holders and the community as they:- share their problems and start solving them,- they put own efforts in campaigns that uplift community life.- begin initiatives /projects that address social concernsSinamandla partners assist in the building of capacity (GBV&HIV/AIDS) that strengthens the efforts of women in SHGs intheir response to HIV/AIDS in the community and enablesgender-based violence to be addressed more directly.
Lessons learnt● Savings and loan in SHGs enables household level economic needs to be met and quality of life is being further enhanced as a result of IGAs● Women report a greater sense of well-being and reduction of stress as a result of social support shared in the group.● At a community level, the SHGs are increasing commercial availability of resources and by working together.
Lessons learnt Members are creating structures to address problems that are most pressing at a community level. The positive socioeconomic impacts of social grant receipt are significantly magnified through participation in SHGs.
Challenges/Opportunities At SHG level – the performance and retention of stipendiary CFs Better remuneration to retain CFs Better care, support & capacity building Limited ownership and support by the organisational leadership in some cases. SHG vision leading to integration with other internal programs Learning exposure between partners Reinforce understanding of concept
Challenges/opportunities Need to identify broader product range, retail outlets and marketing possibilities for SHG members Work with SHG members, partners and experts to assist SHGs to develop a market-oriented approach to income generation thereby enabling an accurate market analysis before embarking on the production of saleable items.
Challenges/Solutions Funding – finding donors who see long term partnerships Promotion of SHG concept in SA context Engagement with government – help them understand that SHG is not a quick fix Potential replication of programme
Challenges/Solutions Role of culture and a patriarchal system Engagement of men in dialogue Better understanding of culture and tradition