This study examined effectiveness of organized women groups, for delivering maternal nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions, as fund grantees, in three tribal-dominated districts of Odisha, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh States, in eastern India.
The scoping study was conducted between July 2014 and March 2015, across three tribal districts, covering 4.3 million population. It generated evidence on women’s access/utilization of health and nutrition services, mapping of community collectives, institutional and programme capacity assessment and stakeholders’ experiences and perceptions on partnership for delivering nutrition interventions for women.
Limited targeting of pre-pregnancy period, delays in registration of pregnant women, and low micronutrient supplementation coverage are key bottlenecks in improving women’s nutrition in these districts. Among the 18 different types of collectives mapped with total membership of over 650,000, Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations emerged as the most promising community collectives due to their vast network, governance structure, bank linkage and regular interface. Nearly 400,000 (or 20% of women) in these districts can be reached through the mapped 31,919 SHGs. SHGs with organizational readiness for receiving and managing grants for income generation and community development activities varied from 41% to 94% across study districts. Stakeholders perceived that federations are effective advocates and have mechanisms for safeguarding members from domestic violence and exploitation and long term political commitment to promote federations exists.
Women centric community collectives can become direct grantees for strengthening last mile delivery of essential interventions, provided they are capacitated, and supervised. They provided safeguards against exploitation and violence.