Meet Munni



from india

Meet Munni
Meet Munni
Photo: Rajendra Shaw/Oxfam
Munni Devi, a widow, had land but no way to farm it. Her region of Uttar Pradesh in northern India is amongst the driest parts of the region. Munni could grow one mustard crop each year but during the dry summer months she had to let her land lie idle and go and work for a local landlord. That all changed with the help of Oxfam and local organisation Parmarth. With your support, we developed a programme with Parmarth to help people in Uttar Pradesh improve water sources and set up community farming schemes to increase the number of crops they could grow. Parmarth also made people in the area aware that they are entitled to government support, including the National Rural Employment scheme which pays farmers a guaranteed minimum wage for 100 days work a year. In total, Parmarth with Oxfam’s support is working in 30 villages with about 3,200 households. 
“We have seen a lot of improvements, such as the grain bank and our self-help group,” Munni says. “The bunds [embankments] were also built by us and this has changed things – we didn’t know how we could achieve this before. We paid 20 per cent of the cost and Parmarth paid 80 per cent and because of this we could make changes. We could afford this cost. Our self-help group is good. There are actually three groups in the village now, with 32 members in all.” Local women are also talking about how they use their rug-making skills to set up together as a joint venture.
 The improvements have enabled Munni to ensure that she can plant a second crop during the dry summer months and buy a buffalo. Having a buffalo means that she can plough her land, or rent out her buffalo and plough to others. 
“I used to work in local villages or on the farm of big farmers. It was a dependency and we relied on them. Now that we can farm, we no longer have to. It feels good. We used to have to labour, and work for others for about six months a year (when we only had one harvest), and now we only need to do labour when we need something, and are free from this way of working.” Your support changes the lives of people like Munni. Thank you.

 All photos by Rajendra Shaw/Oxfam