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Baluben, is a food vendor. She used to vend eatables in the walled city area. "I recently borrowed from SEWA Bank, to buy refrigerator. I had planned to sell cold drinks during summer. Look what has happened to my refrigerator, my vending cart and my home. Everything was gutted. I will have to rebuild from scratch, both my home and my means of livelihoods.

Fatima is a garment stitcher. She along with her two daughters used to stitch skirts for the trader. She has lost all the three machines and her home. Taking refuge in the camp, Fatima says "By Gods’ sake, we have survived. Will work hard and rebuild our livelihoods."

Baluben and Fatima are not alone, about 40,000 self employed women workers and their families have been affected, by the riots.


Those who have not lost their homes or tools, are also hit hard. Most of the labour areas in the city are experiencing riots and have been under curfew for more than 20 days now.

Apart from the camp work SEWA is also working with the women workers who have been affected by the riots. They do not have any source of income at all. For almost past one month these self-employed workers and their families have no work, income & therefore are finding it difficult to have even one meal a day. Construction workers cannot go to work since they reside in curfew bound areas. Vendors cannot carry on vending activities, since the areas are under curfew. The home based workers (Bidi workers, Incense stick rollers, garment workers) have no work as the markets are all closed.

Therefore it was felt that the members who are not having any source of income and they are not residing in camps should also be given some help. Basic food supplies should be given to them so that they too can survive. Wheat was the first option available to us, supplied by the United Nations World Food Program. And therefore, wheat was distributed to our members as immediate assistance to them.

It is now over a month. These victims and their families also now find it difficult to borrow. The moneylenders also refuse to lend.

  Community led Distribution System :

Certain criteria’s for distribution were decided among the leaders and organizers of SEWA, as to who should be given the priority in distributing the wheat. Criteria’s for the same are :

- Members whose houses have been totally damaged.
- Members who reside in the curfew areas, and who because of it could not go out of their locality to by or earn any food etc.
- Members whose houses are totally damaged and they are helpless right now.

It was decided by the organizers and leaders that each member should get 7 kilograms of wheat, so that a family of 5 can utilize it for 4 days maximum (which may vary). Thus a total of 180 metric tons of wheat could be distributed to 25,714 members. Priority wise first the most affected members were taken in to consideration.

The leaders from different localities & chawls first prepare a list of the members and submit it in SEWA, after verification, she is given the total quantity of wheat accordingly to distribute in her locality and later submit the account of it in SEWA.

The whole distribution is taken up and managed by SEWA leaders, with apt guidance from the accounts department – for maintenance of stock etc and other senior organizers of SEWA.

A separate monitoring team again comprising of Leaders cross check the distribution. So far, the available 180 metric tons of wheat has been distributed to 25,714 families.

  SEWA’s Response :

The work in the five relief camps continues.

  Child Care Centres :

About 80 to 200 children are taken care at five child care centres, one in each camp. The children express their feelings by drawings and singing.

Four year old Imtiyaz, on his first day at the child care centre drew a sword and a gun. Now he draws children playing and celebrating Flag hoisting ceremony.

Six year old Salman drew burning houses in the middle of a mosque and a house. Today he draws birds and flowers.

The school going children have been given textbooks and take daily lessons for three hours. In one camp, the children have been temporarily enrolled in the nearby Municipal School.


SEWA collaborated with the Integrated Child Development Scheme of the Government of Gujarat. The child care centres in these five camps are recognised by the Government of Gujarat. The food supply for the children is provided by the ICDS. SEWA, through its catering cooperative – "Trupti" prepares food such as "Sukdi" (mixture of Indiamix flour, jaggary and ghee) Ladoos on alternate days and distributes to the children.

  Health Care :

The health cooperative and the health unit of SEWA, regularly provides health care services. The health unit coordinates with the Municipal Corporation and the Government of Gujarat health services. Accordingly the Mobile Health Vans, conduct routine check-ups at all the camps and also provides medicines. In case referral services, the Health Cooperative arranges for that.

Once every week a Gynaecologist, a Paediatrician, an Opthalmologist also conducts check-ups.

Patients on longer term treatments of T.B. or Thalessemia are also referred to their respective hospitals and treatment continued.

No. Camp No. of Patients

Aman Chowk, Bapunagar


Anand Flat, Bapunagar


Kisan Society, Danilimda


Bokarshah’s Roza, Saraspur


Bombay Housing, Saraspur


Hygiene and Sanitation :


Team of SEWA organisors at the camp, on a daily basis, involve the camp residents and local committees, in cleaning the camp sites, kitchen area. Also guide the committee on proper disposal of garbage and left over food. Proper cleaning and mobile and temporary toilets.

Spraying of disinfectant on a daily basis at the garbage dumping and serveage disposal sites.

  Livelihood Security :

The livelihood security work continues. The demand for work is increasing, with more and more women wanting to join. Currently 1,115 women are getting regular work and income from different economic activities :

- Beedi rolling
- Incense stick making

Garment stitching


Paper bag making

No. Name of Activity No. of women

Beedi rolling


Incense stick making


Garment stitching


Paper bag makingr


The sewing machines 25 each have been installed at the camps.

The assessment on the damage to means of livelihoods and needs for rebuilding livelihoods, has been completed by the team of students from the Indian Institute of Management. SEWA is preparing its long term Post Conflict Reconstruction programme, based on this plan.

  Informal Education :

The literacy team from SEWA Academy conducts classes for young boys and girls and also adults. Two hour classes are conducted daily. There are different timings for different age groups.

The young girls at the camps, in the age group of 7 to 14 have started learning Gujarati. The preschool lessons on introducing alphabets and numbers are being conducted. About 120 girls attend literacy classes in 3 camps.

  Housing Reconstruction :

The housing damage assessment and needs assessment for reconstruction of total 15,250 houses has been completed, under the guidance and inputs from KSADPS. The detailed report with costs, plans and sketches and cost estimates for reconstruction is prepared.

SEWA is linking up with the Government of Gujarat, to design the housing compensation package, using the assessment.

  Rural Response :

In Kheda district, about 7500 members from 70 villages have been affected. They are taking refuge in camps in Anand city.

Based on SEWA’s general approach, child care centers and health care centers have been opened in all the seven camps. On an average 563 children attend the centers.

No. Name of village No. of children





Naya Vatan


Green Park


The detailed village assessment will commence now, as till 4th March, Anand city and the villages were under curfew, and therefore the office had to remain closed.

  Next Steps :

It has now been almost a month, that the families have taken refuge in camps. Their work also has come to a standstill. Life is completely disrupted. For families outside the camp, also life is at a complete standstill. There is no work and income for daily wage earners. The areas are under curfew Basic daily necessities are not available. Children’s education also suffers. Added to this is the summer heat, that leads to infections and illness. The families are wanting to go back to their houses – whether destroyed or damage. They are eager to work hard and rebuild their homes.

However, there is fear. There is a feeling of insecurity. The members want support from SEWA.

"Shantipath" – post conflict resettlement. SEWA has taken the courage to resettle its members and their households, by having detailed consultations with the families, with the neighbors.


Taking gradual steps of first visiting the chawls and houses. Spending time with the neighbors. Gradually increasing the stay. Every step has to be careful and cautions.

At the same time, SEWA will negotiate with the Government of Gujarat for security and protection. To compensate the families as early as possible to facilitate the process of resettlement.

The challenge ahead is difficult. But the members have trust and the organisors are confident. Together we shall overcome!

Interview of Smt.Ela R. Bhatt
Fifteen Days After
Livelihood and Security for Women in Gujarat
Shantipath: Our Road to Restoring Peace
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