In August 2018, the southern state of Kerala was struck by devastating floods. The disaster uprooted the sense of normalcy from the lives of people who were affected. People faced trauma, anxiety, abandonment, and neglect. With an aim to help people get back to normalcy and generate a source of livelihood, Bal Raksha Bharat, Gram Panchayat (GP) of Veeyapuram (in Allappuzha District) and Kudumbashree entered into a tripartite agreement and established a micro-enterprise unit to run a mini apparel unit providing livelihood support to 40 women as an alternate source of income.
It was during the floods that the women expressed that they would like to get training to build their capacity for an alternate source of income. They had some previous experience of tailoring at their household level. Bal Raksha Bharat mobilized the GP and Kudumbashree to join hands and support an initiative on these lines.
The GP provided the space and administrative requirements, Kudumbashree went on to provide training support along with the identification of the most vulnerable families and Bal Raksha Bharat provided the soft skills training and machinery support. The District Collector of Alappuzha inaugurated the unit, and post the training period, the unit received orders worth USD 1500 in 3 months. Through the Mini Apparel Unit, we have been able to help 40 households and a total of 211 employees.
During the ongoing Novel Coronavirus crisis, this unit has started producing masks. The masks are then providing them to community, government, and non-government institutions. The women who were once beneficiaries of humanitarian response and have now emerged as providers during the current crisis. They have been preparing essential supplies from the past one month, and Bal Raksha Bharat will be procuring these items for distribution in various states as part of the response.
Kudumbashree is having many small and medium tailoring units functioning across the 14 districts in Kerala. Over ten lakh cotton masks are being produced by these tailoring units so far. The establishments are involved in the production and supply of essentials required to check Coronavirus outbreak, including masks, sanitizers, drugs, personal protective equipments (PPE), etc.
Out of these units, 360 units have already started the process of making cotton masks. Kudumbashree units started making cotton masks, as the availability of the masks was less. Masks are prepared as per the orders received from the health department and other governmental and non-governmental departments. Kudumbashree units across the districts have prepared 8,30,423 masks till date, and the process is ongoing.
The total production capacity of all the Kudumbashree units put together is approximately 1,30,000 masks per day. The price of the cotton mask is fixed as per the cloth used and the quality. With the increase in Coronavirus cases across India, the need for the cotton mask has risen. Directions have been given to the respective District Mission Coordinators to increase the production capacity by increasing the working time and by engaging more units.