From Poverty to Prosperity Initiatives:

Poverty means different things to different people. Poverty is not the result of only economic deprivation. The reasons and causes of poverty are multi-faceted. WATCH believes that poverty is not only caused by economic issues but by social and cultural and educational status, level of participation in the political and development activities. Above all, it is the dependency mentality and lack of awareness, skills, commitment for managing available resources. Rather than looking at possibilities and opportunities available or created by situations, people like to look at them as problems which make them immobile because problems are numerous and emerge every minute. But problems create opportunities and possibilities which need to be utilized for prosperity. So, WATCH has plans to alleviate poverty of 150 rural poor from its working area every year. They have developed program with training and follow-up and is called “From Poverty to Prosperity”.

WATCH first lets the people evaluate themselves on their current situation and how those people feel about it. This is based on eight stages of dialogue and conversations that are held with the people in question to determine;
1. Analysis of situation by making transect walk of available resources (Draw a transect map)
2. Are they satisfied with what they have or not?
3. With the things they are satisfied with how do they want to continue or improve?
4. With the things they are not satisfied with what they think could be done or changed to improve their situation?
5. Based on this what kind of plan they want to make for themselves?
6. What kind of resources they have to manage or support the plan?
7. How can others help them carry out this plan? (Venn Diagram of possible donors and service providers)
8. What would they be or become if all things happened? (vision)

WATCH has been supporting rural women with income generation but it was not bringing necessary changes in their lives. Even though they had their own resources they were not thinking about managing and utilizing them. They did not see that they can be utilized and managed. So this new process focuses on utilizing their own resources. It has been found process itself is all right but it is difficult for the staff to visualize the process and support it. They are used to giving and that mentality does not help the process.

Poverty alleviation until now is focused on economic growth rather than well-being, peace of mind, satisfaction considering whole aspects of life and living. It is a holistic and comprehensive approach which considers every aspect like psycho-social, economic, education and awareness, self-respect and self-confidence, mentality of being independent and free, commitment to be and “can do” mentality. The project is implemented as pilot for two years but it has not developed any measures for evaluation. So the proposed research will be participatory action research in which action-reflection-conclusion-action praxis will be followed. Various PRA tools for baseline (recall) and change like mapping, mental maps, well-being ranking, transect walk, case studies, etc. will be utilized.

WATCH has been implementing the program with women and women’s groups for the last ten years. Initially it was focused dialogue but now some toola are also introduced. WATCH also has created a Revolving Trust Fund to support this initiative. The participating woman has to get approval and support women’s group she belongs to. The women’s group receives 6% interest of the money invested thus this program also help sustain the women’s groups.

By now, about 700 women are supported with more than 20 million Rs. No woman has default the investment. 90% of those who participated has succeeded and invested in other initiatives. So in a way they have become an entrepreneurs (please look at the case studies).

Some successes:
1. About 700 families have benefited from the initiative and have become prosperous in a way.
2. Peace and better understanding in the poor families.
3. About 625 families are sustaining business by themselves without investment support.
4. Regular follow-up and monitoring as well as feedback and suggestion provided.
5. Monitoring system has been developed.
6. Some non-traditional and small donors interested in the initiative.
7. About 199 families have become real entrepreneurs and have started businesses.

Some problems being faced:
1. Weaknesses in the staff training and preparation.
2. Difficulty in getting time and patience from the woman and her family members for the exercise.
3. Giving mentality of other donors and government agencies.
4. No legal provision for investing in such initiative by an NGO.
5. Donors lack of understanding about such possibilities because donors also want to spend.