Asha Kiran to rebuild rural livelihoods for five lakh households impacted by Covid-19

A tie-up has been announced between the Government of Uttar Pradesh and The/Nudge Foundation for an initiative called Asha Kiran – The Hope Project. The/Nudge Foundation will invest more than Rs 200 crore in the programme over the next three to five years to rebuild rural livelihoods for five lakh households impacted by Covid-19.

Asha Kiran to rebuild rural livelihoods for five lakh households impacted by Covid-19

New Delhi

The/Nudge Centre for Rural Development is set to invest Rs 200 crore to support rural livelihoods and to help poor households access government programs, subsidies, schemes, and private sector investment. It shared this information in a press release. Called Asha Kiran — the Hope Project, this initiative is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Hindustan Unilever Foundation, FICCI-Aditya Birla CSR Centre for Excellence, HT Parekh Foundation, Godrej, RBL Bank and KPMG, among others.

Focused on UP as the primary state along with neighbouring geographies, Asha Kiran will build upon government priorities and programmes to scale high-impact models in partnership with the government, says the release. Asha Kiran’s implementation partners include Transform Rural India Foundation, Indus Action, Magic Bus, Heifer International, Trust Community Livelihoods, The Goat Trust, Haqdarshak and others.

“The/Nudge has been working in the state of Jharkhand for the last three years, creating livelihoods for underprivileged communities in 110 villages. With the effect COVID has had, we are expanding this work to the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Partnering with the UP government, we will be able to spread and scale the impact of our work to underprivileged families in the hardest-hit districts in the largest state in our country,” said Ashish Karamchandani, President, The/Nudge.

The press release says that since the first wave, Asha Kiran has been running sizable pilots on the ground in UP, both responding to the immediate needs and building long-term sustainable livelihoods, to help UP’s rural poor, especially women, deal with the crushing blow of the pandemic. Asha Kiran has been active in seven districts of Uttar Pradesh, reaching 80,000+ households to improve their food security, income security and to build long-term sustainable livelihoods.

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic unleashed even more damage, wrecking the livelihoods of the rural poor, at a time when they were hoping for a way to rebuild after the first wave.

According to the release, the UP government stepped in to provide swift relief with the help of existing schemes and new measures. There is a huge opportunity to expand the reach of government schemes and to build on top of the massive self-help group (SHG) and community institution infrastructure to aid faster recovery and long-term sustainability.

“Uttar Pradesh has large-scale poverty alleviation programmes and enabling convergence is important to amplify their benefits for the poor. I’m happy that Asha Kiran is actively partnering with government, private sector and civil society to enable this,” said Manoj Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Government of Uttar Pradesh.

Asha Kiran is acting as a force-multiplier and scaling targeted, high-impact and cost-effective interventions which include enabling access to MGNREGS and PDS, input distribution and kitchen gardens to provide immediate relief in addition to improving agricultural incomes through high-value crops, productivity and market linkages and adding secondary income via goatery and backyard poultry. Asha Kiran’s investment of Rs 200 crore is likely to unlock 800 to 1000 crore of benefits to rural communities through access to government schemes and private sector investments.

Rajashree Birla, Padma Bhushan, and Chairperson, Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, said, “The/Nudge’s Asha Kiran is a forward step in bringing a ray of sunshine in the lives of five lakh people, living on the margins of society.  Its strategic roadmap is sure to help India’s transformative journey to inclusive growth and our collective vision of freedom from poverty, in the not-so-distant future.”

Hari Menon, Country Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, added, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe economic disruption and India’s poor and vulnerable have been disproportionately impacted. The/Nudge’s approach to mobilize support from a diverse set of stakeholders and complement the government’s efforts in rebuilding the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, especially women, is much needed”.

The/Nudge Centre for Rural Development, an impact stream of The/Nudge, aims to catalyze development and social transformation among India’s rural poor. It aims to act on promising models, create knowledge for the ecosystem and scale high-impact models in partnership with government, private sector & civil society, through programs like ‘Asha Kiran’ and ‘Ultra Poor’.