• Impact of Covid-19 on Self-help Groups in Meghalaya
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The study focused on gauging the impact of covid on the functioning of SHGs, with a special emphasis on the economic and social wellbeing of the SHG households. Besides, it also covered the coping mechanisms and initiatives taken by the SHGs and their members to deal with covid.

Covid-19 and its associated containment measures have imposed an unprecedented toll on the lives of millions all over India and Meghalaya was not an exception. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of covid on the SHGs as a whole, CDFI was entrusted to conduct a study.
  • To understand the impact of covid-19 on the livelihood of SHG households
  • To understand the impact of covid-19 on the social well-being of SHG households
  • To examine the impact on access to credit facilities and other financial services for meeting the needs of SHG members
  • To assess the impact of covid-19 restrictions on regular activities (Panchasutra) of SHGs
  • To assess the support received by the SHGs from government and other institutions
  • To understand the initiatives taken by the SHGs to deal with covid-19

The impact was studied using both quantitative and qualitative methods, with a representative sample of 60 SHGs and 300 members for the quantitative data, and one focus group discussion per 24 SHG for the qualitative data. A before-and-after research design was used to estimate COVID’s impact. However, cross-sectional data were used in certain cases, such as current challenges, coping strategies, and initiatives taken to tackle COVID.

Summary of fifindings /key learnings
Summary of findings /key learnings
  • The covid-19 had a negative impact on the general life of SHG members and households with adverse effects on children’s education and access to basic necessities and public services.
  • Households reported a decline in income and spending on daily essentials. Households with wage labour income and households with farming income experienced more income loss. Further, the fall in expenditure on essentials was due to their rise in prices.
  • The major challenges for the households were the high prices of daily essentials, financial accessibility and food accessibility. Most of the households had to resort to some negative food coping mechanisms for fighting covid-19, with maximum reductions in non-vegetarian diets
  • Majorly the households relied upon their relatives and friends for social and financial support followed by SHGs and village panchayats and a majority of them received food grains support from the public distribution system and earned income through the MGNREGA job scheme.
  • Households have taken fewer loans, but default rates have not changed much between before and during Covid. In addition, SHGs continued to be the main source of loans before and during covid
  • The average membership number in SHGs has remained fairly constant. But the average number of meetings held by SHGs has fallen during the pandemic.
  • Several SHGs were involved in the distribution and making of masks and sanitizers, with the materials provided by the village organizations.

SHGs can play a very vital role in promoting vaccination and covid awareness program in the state. SHGs as a group could also get involved in income generating activities, which might help members in coping with the income loss.