Occupation: Salt Farmer
Location: Manpura, Aklav District
Family Size: 6
Shardaben's story: Shardaben Kessrising Macwan is already benefiting from a clean cook stove (pictured, right). Prior to purchasing a cook stove from GFI’s local partner, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), she used a traditional cook stove. The traditional cook stove adversely affected Shardaben’s respiratory system and eyes, and she used to get frequent headaches after cooking. She was getting ill twice a month, just from cooking with a traditional cook stove. She had to spend money on treatment and could not work as often as she needed to because of her frequent illness. Because of the traditional cook stove, the walls and ceiling of her house were becoming black with smoke. To fuel her cook stove she was using kerosene and wood, and had to spend one day a week foraging in the forest for wood. More than 10 liters of kerosene were required to operate the traditional cook stove, and Shardaben had to spend 150 Indian Rupees per liter purchasing fuel on the black market. Shardaben’s sari even caught on fire once from the traditional cook stove. Now, Shardaben has a clean cook stove, which she refers to as “a precious jewel in my life.” Shardaben has found that the clean cook stove can prepare food in 1/3 of the time it took the traditional cook stove, and she only needs half as much wood and 80% less kerosene to cook her meals. With the clean cook stove, Shardaben is able to save money on fuel, benefit from less indoor air pollution, and is no longer experiencing frequent illness. With a small investment of $25 you can join GFI in providing a clean cook stove to other salt farmers like Shardaben, and allow them to save money on fuel costs, reduce health risks from indoor air pollution and improve their livelihoods.
For 8 months a year Shardaben Kessrising Macwan earns her living working in India’s salt flats, a difficult job under any circumstances, but in India it is most often a job where predatory middleman provide essential equipment and the working conditions on the sun baked and isolated salt pans is severe. For the close to one million workers, mostly women and adolescent girls, who work in India’s salt flats, there are few alternatives to earn a living, but through a partnership between GFI and the Self Employed Women’s Association a new opportunity is being created to make work in India’s salt flats better, safer and more prosperous for women and girls across the region. One part of GFI’s SWEEP program is the creation of better working and living conditions for workers and their families in the salt flats, and a basic part of this goal is limiting the harmful indoor air pollution created by cooking in the small dwellings that house workers and their families during the salt harvest season. To address this GFI plans to provide access to cleaner and more fuel efficient cook stoves to families throughout India’s salt producing regions and create healthier living conditions for workers and their families who join them in the salt flats. With a small investment of $25 you can join us in significantly improving the lives of salt workers and their families and making one of the most difficult jobs in the world notably better.
The Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program (SWEEP) is a collaborative project of the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) designed to improve economic opportunity and empowerment for women salt farmers and introduce environmentally sustainable energy solutions to lower production costs so that the poor too can benefit from “green technology.” Capitalizing on sustainable technology and production methods, improved links to high- value markets and greater local control of energy costs, SWEEP gives women salt producers the tools, access and voice to better realize profits and maximize their personal and community livelihood goals.
Drawing on SEWA’s successful capacity building work with the Surendranagar’s women salt farmers, the SWEEP project takes an important step forward by introducing environmentally sustainable energy technology to replace the existing diesel system and opening additional market opportunities as well as greater ownership over the production value-chain. The key underlying goal is to improve livelihoods and empower 30,000 woman farmers to profit from the product and the production process of their salt businesses. Through SWEEP, salt farmers retain profits and increase livelihood opportunities by replacing expensive diesel fuel costs with renewable, locally owner power alternatives built around environmentally sustainable energy solutions deployed at a large. Introducing a local ownership model also may also allow salt communities to leverage surplus power production and realize additional profits from distribution of power through community based or modular utilities.