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Gujarat experienced the worst ever riots and violence on the 28th February and 1st March 2002. Ahmedabad city, Kheda and Anand districts, Mehsana district, Sabarkantha district and Patan district are some of worst affected areas, where SEWA also has its membership base.

The violence and riots led to damage to houses, household goods, life casualties and damage to livelihoods. This is followed by curfew for about five successive days. This means loss of daily income and wages. Many women have no place to go. The Government of Gujarat is yet preparing relief package. Statistics are yet not available.

The poor communities in Ahmedabad city and rural areas are the worst hit. More than 1,25,000 poor women workers and their families have been affected. SEWA teams are making estimates.


SEWA’s organisors, grassroots leaders conducted a first hand assessment from 1st March 2002 onwards in Ahmedabad city. The assessment in Ahmedabad city was carried out by SEWA’s trade committee leaders, campaign teams and health workers, and bank leaders. More than 175 grassroots workers conducted the assessment. The assessment focused on (1) physical damage or life (2) damage to work – means of livelihood (3) damage to house and household goods. The atmosphere is very tense.

The teams also assessed as to whether the workers – who are members of SEWA, were covered under SEWA Bank and SEWA’s insurance programme. Based on the assessment, the need for long term rehabilitation, to restore the livelihoods is in the following areas : More accurate and second round of assessment is planned in the next two days.

SEWA’s members and leaders have played a major role in maintaining harmony amongst our members. The members and leaders have decided to maintain a low profile. The need of the hour is to keep members and communities together, keep working silently and invest all energies by focus on work.


SEWA’s Immediate Response :

Most of the affected families of all the communities are currently taking refuge in estimated 22 official camps. SEWA visited all the 22 camps in the city. Out of these camps SEWA will start working in five camps from 6th March 2002. Many women have not reached camps and have taken refuge to what they thought to be safer location.

Based on the review of past four riots in the city of Ahmedabad Disaster Mitigation Institute, DMI, has drawn lessons to inform the relief effort. From the DMI information sheet dated March 4, 2002 the following principles are guiding SEWA work :

- Supporting local initiatives from the members
- Work where SEWA has existing community base
- Leverage public money with SEWA resources
- Plan for long term involvement
- Sustained support to reconciliation efforts; and
- Create space for members to reintegrate their work and life with each other
  SEWA will respond to the immediate need of the workers in these camps :
  • By providing food ration (mixture of rice and daal) and milk powder. Ration of 5 kg./per head/ for five days will be provided to about 30,000 families in Ahmedabad city.
  • Child care centers will be opened from 6th March at about 6 camps. The children from 0 to 6 years, will be taken care and provided food and milk at the child care centers. Focus is on safety of mother and children.
  • Activity centers – for the children in the age group of 7 to 14 years activity centers will be opened. Children will be involved in creative activities of story telling, craft, painting, games. Focus is on promoting reconciliation and healing.
  • Work at Camps : Most of the women at all the camps demanded work. Therefore, SEWA will co-ordinate with employers/ traders of different trades such as beedi rolling, incense stick, ready garments. Raw material will be distributed at all the camps, so that women can start working at the camps. Backward forward linkages will be made to engage population in constructive work.
  • Health centers : SEWA will operate health centers at the camps to provide primary and first aid treatment. Along with that health and hygiene education will also be provided

    The rural areas of Kheda, Anand, Sabarkantha, Mehsana and Radhanpur are still inaccessible. Therefore the damage assessment from the villages in these districts is yet to come. Support and help is needed to make these assessments. Safety is also an issue for SEWA women workers to go out for assessments.

    In addition, SEWA has taken care in to bringing lessons from its earthquake response, "Disaster and Vulnerability: SEWA’s Response to the Earthquake in Gujarat".
  Rebuilding Livelihoods : SEWA’s long term response :

The workers engaged in several trades suffered (1) loss of work and wages for at least 15 days (2) loss of tools, equipments, raw material and finished goods (3) the women will not be able to go to the work sites/ vend for another 10 days.

More than 25,000 workers in Ahmedabad city suffered the
  1. Loss of work and wages – Rs. 40x15x25,000 = Rs. 1,50,00,000
  2. Loss of tools, equipments, raw material – 5,000x15,000 = Rs. 7,50,00,000
  3. Provisional market/ storage support – Rs. 5,00,000x6 sites = Rs. 30,00,000.

Thus a total estimated loss to livelihoods is about Rs. 9,30,00,000.

  SEWA plans to rebuild the livelihoods of these self employed workers and their families by (a) replenishing tools and equipments (b) compensating loss of wages (c) develop a livelihood security fund that covers marketing, storage, and other needs.

Market loss :

Due to the violence and curfew, SEWA’s artisans direct marketing outlets Banascraft and SEWA Kalakruti, also had to be closed for seven days. This resulted into loss of sales of Rs. 3,50,000/-. Resulting into loss of work and income to 1500 artisans (1500xRs.50x15 = Rs. 11,25,000) at Jamalpur in Ahmedabad city, where the rural vegetable growers sell their vegetables directly in the market and the vendors from the city buy the vegetables, remained closed for seven days. This resulted in loss of sale of vegetables worth Rs. 21,80,000 per day. Thus a total loss of Rs. 36,55,000, resulting into loss of work and income to about 2000 vegetable growers and vendors. Now also, sales are very low. Production is disrupted.


Artisans loss of income for 15 days

= 1500 x 50 x15 = Rs. 11,25,000

Vendors income loss

= 120 x 7 x 2000 = Rs. 16,80,000

Loss of cooperative members income

= 4,00,000 = Rs.  4,00,000

Shop no. 40 loss of income to farmers

  = Rs.  5,00,000
       Rs. 37,05,000
Market Loss
Artisan = 3,50,000
Vegetable = 7,00,000
  Also the Cooperative Vegetable Shop in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee. 5 lakhs due to high season.
  Damage to Houses :

It is estimated that 30,000 self employed workers have lost their houses and household goods. The houses have been burnt down completely or damaged to an extent, that it is inhabitable. The estimated damage and losses are :

    • Total damage to 10,000 houses – worth Rs. 15,00,00,000 (10,000x15,000)
    • Partial damage to 20,000 houses – worth Rs. 10,00,00,000 (20,000x5,000)

There are estimated 5,000 workers who had taken Rs. 7,50,00,000 worth of housing loans. These workers may need support in rebuilding the houses (5,000 women x Rs. 15,000)


SEWA plans to support these women workers in reconstructing their houses :

    • by providing interest free on special condition housing finance upto Rs. 25,000x5,000 women = 12,50,00,000.
    • by providing technical services and material of Rs. 10,000x5,000 women = 5,00,00,000.
    • by linking with HUDCO and HDFC for creating Housing Loan Adjustment Fund.

There is a need to mobilize resources for bridge finance to cover the interest subsidy. Each family will be provided a housing loan of Rs. 25,000, at 4%. Therefore the interest subsidy required is of Rs. 3,75,00,000. (Please see Annexure 1)

  Insurance Coverage :

More than 30,000 urban members have been covered under SEWA’s insurance programme. SEWA’s field teams are conducting the damage assessment to houses, tools and equipments.

Based on the damage assessment, SEWA will work out the reimbursement of claims to its members.

All the workers provided support for livelihood and housing finance will also be linked with insurance programme.

  Health Care Services :

The SEWA team is also assessing the need for health care services to the affected families. There is a need for immediate health services for trauma treatment, fever, first aid. To pregnant women, children and lactating mothers special health inputs are needed.

There are also cases of serious injuries. Based on the assessment, SEWA through its health cooperative will open health centers in all the affected areas to provide immediatly needed health services.

  Child Care Services :

SEWA will immediately reopen child care centers, so that children from the affected families can be taken care of. Besides reopening its ongoing 51 child care centers, there will be need to open 5 new child care centers.

SEWA through its child care workers cooperative will immediately start training of child care workers – to work as teachers at the centers.

  Members Education :
SEWA Academy through its trainers and grassroots research team will launch members education that SEWA has been doing with its members – focusing on values of peace and non-violence, secularism. Strengthen the feeling of solidarity as workers. The members education will be conducted using different methods such as small meetings, songs, plays – video replays. The purpose is to create atmosphere of reconciliation and reintegration.  
Annexure 1  

Loan of Rs. 25,000 each to 5,000 women. Total proposed loan Rs. 12,50,00,000. Loan will be given at the rate of 4% as against normal interest rate of 14%. Hence interest subsidy will be 10% per annum.


Loan disbursed – 12,50,00,000 @ interest subsidy 10% per annum (on reducing balance)


1st year

2,50,00,000 1,25,00,000
2nd year 2,50,00,000 1,00,00,000
3rd year 2,50,00,000 75,00,000
4th year 2,50,00,000 50,00,000
5th year 2,50,00,000 25,00,000
Total   3,75,00,000

To this issue in the meeting Ela ben, (Founder- SEWA), said that; SEWA has withstood 4 of such incidences in the past. But we have never let the external communal feeling enter our own organization. We just remember that we are women and we are workers in any of the field. Gandhiji has identified 4 pillars to support our Nation, which are :

  1. Truthfulness
  2. Non-Violence
  3. Respectful to all religions
  4. Village development

With the above note, it was decided that all the SEWA organizers and leaders should work to overcome the situation. It was so decided that with the increase in the membership we have to strengthen our shoulders to withstand such crisis and work efficiently.

Interview of Smt.Ela R. Bhatt
Fifteen Days After
One month after
Shantipath: Our Road to Restoring Peace
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Self Employed Women's Association
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