Development of women and children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)
Development of women and children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) was launched as a sub scheme of IRDP during the year 1982-83 in 50 districts. It subsequently extended to cover all the districts in the country by 1994-95. The flow of benefits to poor women, in spite of reservation, under various poverty alleviation programmes viz. IRDP and TRYSEM were found to be not making much impact. Therefore, in order to overcome this situation and to involve the rural women more intensely in economic activities and matters that concerns the rural community. One of the initiatives taken by this ministry was the introduction of an exclusive programme for women viz. Development of women & children in rural areas. DWCRA with exclusive focus on economic empowerment of women provides all these inputs by considering women as critical to development. This intervention aims at not only raising the incomes of rural women of poor households, but also enabling organized participation of groups of women provides all these inputs by considering women as critical to development: also enabling organized participation of groups of women in the programmes of credit, skill training and infrastructure support for self-employment. DWCRA was introduced for ensuring that the benefits of IRDP reach to women directly. The programme seeks to improve the access of rural women to health, education, safe drinking water, sanitation, nutrition etc; thereby bringing about an enhancement in the quality of general well being of women & children.
The basic unit under DWCRA is a group of 10-15 poor women who have come together to help each other in order to use their collective strength to break social bonds that have denied them income generating and self-fulfilling opportunities. The group size may be smaller in difficult terrain and far-flung areas. One woman amongst the members functions as the group organizer who helps in the choice of activity, procurement of raw material, marketing of products. Before undertaking the activities women were made aware of the objectives and benefits of group information under the scheme; undertaking their potential and recognizing their strength. At the operational level inputs/coaching for such an exercise by the group is given by gram sevika for a period of two years, who not only creates a group but also nurtures the group and orients them in availing of benefits of various other programmes/schemes.
Implementing Agency and Staffing Pattern
DWCRA is being implemented by the district Rural Development Agencies to facilitate the implementation of scheme one post of Assistant Project officer (Woman) has been sanctioned to be part of the DRDA team. One additional post of Gram Sevika has also been sanctioned at the block level to look after the activities of the groups. This is addition to the two Gram Sevika in the normal block pattern.
The Assistant Project officer (APO), the additional Gram Sevika along with two Gram Sevikas and Mukhya Sevika already available with CD Block from a team to help in the implementation of DWCRA. The conduct preliminary surveys of the area, and establish contacts with the rural women, identifying their constraints and needs. The team is responsible for monitoring and follow up. The APO is to help in establishing contracts with different agencies, in mobilisation of resources and training facilities, also to look after the day to day administration of the scheme within the DRDA. Implementation of the entire DRDA is the overall responsibility of the entire DRDA team headed by the project officer or Project Director.
Community Based Convergent Services
The Community Based Convergent Services (CBCS), as a component of DWCRA was started in 1991 in a few districts of the country is a pilot programme. The objective was to create greater awareness among the village communities to enable them to demand social services provided by the state in a better manner and also share responsibilities in the management and implementation of these services, thus, leading to sustainable development. Traditional methods like visuals, role play, folk art, puppetry, dance and drama etc, are some of the means employed for sensitizing the community to the basic needs. The Programme seeks to strengthen existing organization of rural poor women, encourage the level of social and economic status of women. The programmes of ICDS, Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission, and National Literacy Mission (NLM) are some of the programmes which are sought to be converged at the grass roots level- 298 districts community based convergent Services (CBCS) with cent per cent Central assistance at Rs. 5.00 Lakhs per district.
Child Care Activities
Child Care Activities (CCA) has been incorporated in DWCRA Programme during 1995-96 with the following objectives:
- To provide crèche services for children of working DWCRA women.
- Setting up of literacy centres of DWCRA women with specific emphasis on girl child dropouts and illiterate members of the DWCRA groups.
- Filling up critical gaps in the areas of immunization, nutrition etc. for the children of DWCRA members with special focus and emphasis on the girl child to reduce gender disparities in the infant girl child care.
- To provide some relief to the physically handicapped children of DWCRA members. To provide immediate relief and pay for legal assistance in case of redressal of physical abuse of the girl child.
- Children below 6 years are the target group under child Care Activities. Each DRDA is to receive Rs. 1.50 lakhs (Rs. 1.00 lakhs Central Share and Rs. 50,000 as state share) for child care Activities.
Each DWCRA group gets Rs. 25,000 as Revolving Fund to meet capital expenditure requirement of economic activities. Expenditure on revolving fund was being shared equally by the central government, state Government and UNICEF till 1994-95. UNICEF assistance was not available from 1.1.96. The revolving fund has been increased from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 during 1995-96. Presently, the expenditure for revolving fund is being shared by the centre and state on 50:50 bases.
Initially no specific coverage of vulnerable groups such as SC/STs was fixed. However, during the year 1997-98, it has been made compulsory that 50% of the groups have to be women belonging to SC/ST.
Priority has to be given to physically handicapped persons and also girls and women rehabilitated from prostitution.