Mathothpoyil is one of the largest Paniya hamlets in the bank of Panamaram River, which floods every year in monsoon. Paniyas are a tribal community of the region with very low standards of living compared to the mainstream communities of Kerala.
They are traditionally the agricultural labourers of the region. The crisis in the field of agriculture has been largely displacing Paniya women of Wayanad District from their work as wage labourers. The flood had affected their lives further as they are left with no income-generation source.
As a livelihood restoration effort, HDFC Bank Parivartan’ has supported 12 young Paniya women with sewing machines and has conducted training classes for them. The first set of products was simple cloth bags.
These cloth bags offer a viable and sustainable alternative to plastic carry bags. Special training was offered to the women group and now they are producing three types of bags in three sizes. They have started selling their products to three supermarkets at Kalpetta town. Through this intervention, the Paniya women were brought together for a single stitching unit. This has inculcated the habit of savings among them and now they have control over their income. They have earned Rs6250 per person, for two months, in the time which they have saved in between household activities and other engagements. Consultations are ongoing with the Gram Panchayat to develop this unit as a full-fledged production unit.