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The Old Town of Hyderabad is characterized by a great number of low-income households, poor infrastructure and limited access to basic amenities, subsequently resulting in high crime rates. In this very traditional and religious society, the majority of the women in the Bastis of the old town face restrictions, discrimination and inequality as well as the struggle for basic nutritional intake every day. To help them with their daily responsibilities and add value to their lives the Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) has initiated self-organized self-help groups (SHG), which encourage these women to save money so that, further down the line, they can take a loan. This micro-credit approach has been successfully implemented in rural areas. In Hyderabad Roshan Vikas Thrift and Credit based SHGs have operated for the past 7 years. The goal in founding the Women’s Consumer Cooperatives (WCC) in December 2005 was to organize a sustainable independent cooperative that ensures food security, with a subsequent empowerment of women and a linkage with rural producers in the future. Under these conditions, food security is the basis for being able to look for new sources of income. A survey to study the economic and social background, the functioning and future perspectives of over 200 members of different cooperative groups in rural and urban areas around the future megacity Hyderabad, begun in September 2006. The following study reveals that members of the cooperative and SHG groups in rural and urban areas, despite their low earnings and educational levels, are interested in making an effort to better their lives, especially by enhancing their food security. On the other hand, managerial and organizational limits restrict certain approaches and methods. The women expressed their opinions about these concerns and problems. The study also reveals the nature of socio-economic impacts on the lives of the members. It looked at present empirical realities in the framework of Security, Empowerment, Civil Society and Rural Development, with the assumption that the vulnerability of low income households regarding liquidity, health and nutrition in the context of rapidly expanding cities is a prime obstacle in the sustainable development of women. In the process, various issues were noticed which were found to be relevant for the performance and future direction of Women’s Consumer Cooperatives in Hyderabad.


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