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An EU funded welfare project concluded on March 22, with an event to mark the achievements for the project and discuss ways to take it forward. The project titled Svavritti or Self help was implemented by Solidarity And Action Against HIV Infection in India (SAATHII). Speaking on behalf of the European Union Cecilia Costa said the Council invites the Commission to examine how best to integrate social protection, which is an important element of EU development policy, in the post-2015 development agenda and ensure that social protection is included in policy dialogues with partner countries including with partner countries graduating from EU bilateral development cooperation and is underpinned by principles of universality and inclusiveness, with particular attention to the most vulnerable, excluded and disadvantaged people, for example women, children, persons with disabilities and people living with HIV-AIDS. Specifically for India, EU took the initiative in 2013, under the annual specific Call for Proposals among civil society actors in India, to focus on access to public schemes and services under the central and state schemes, which are directed towards the most vulnerable and marginalized groups. From this call for proposals, EU contracted 14 projects across India and this project by SAATHII happens to be one of them. This specific project was implemented in 30 backward districts across 8 states of India, particularly focusing on families affected by AIDS, sexual/gender minorities, female sex workers and injecting drug users, which are some of the most hard to reach populations in the country. SAATHII's long years of association and experience of having worked with these most marginalised populations, was the reason behind making this project successful. Owing to EU's commitment to the issue and the funding support that has been extended to SAATHII through this project, this project aimed at and has successfully completed developing and implementing a pilot at significant scale to translate this vision statement into reality in some of India’s most backward districts and for some of the very marginalised communities in these areas. This initiative has empowered hundreds of such marginalized people and helped them overcome their vulnerability through better knowledge and access to schemes. It has built self-reliance in them, leading to improvement in economic and social status of these people well as their families.
The objective of the project was to improve governance and offtake with regard to social welfare schemes in backward districts of India, and enhance quality of life of AIDS-affected and vulnerable communities by promoting their uptake of social-welfare schemes. The beneficiaries were individuals and households affected by AIDS, sexual/gender minorities, female sex workers and injecting drug users in 30 backward districts of 8 states of India - Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal - in a four-year period. Over 7200 target community members and 1800 family members accessed schemes, and obtained entitlement documents and legal services with the support provided, enabling them to find jobs, or get insurance, loans, medical cover, housing, food or legal assistance.