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Lessons from a Women-led Livelihood Pilot in a Neglected Tropical Diseases endemic area in Southern India


Shyamala Anand ,

American Leprosy Missions, IN
About Shyamala
Shyamala Anand is an Ophthalmologist with 35 years of hospital and community-based experience in the NGO sector. With over 25 years of clinical experience in rural and resource constrained settings, she has since 2017, been exploring innovative and sustainable approaches to improve outcomes and bring lasting change for people affected by NTDs and NTD related disability. She designed American Leprosy Mission’s integrated and women-led approaches for WASH and NTDs, and is involved in designing home based approaches for leprosy and LF disability care, research to assess and improve the quality of life for people with NTD related disability, and the use of digital technology in these approaches to bring services to the point of need.
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Annamma John,

American Leprosy Missions, IN
About Annamma
Annamma John is a Medical doctor and currently works as an independent consultant for organizations focused on leprosy, NTDs and other communicable diseases. She has more than 30 years of experience in the field of leprosy. Her expertise includes clinical management of leprosy, training, research, development projects, monitoring and evaluation of leprosy and related programmes, and managing operational and field research projects.
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Radhika Mamidi,

LEPRA Society, IN
About Radhika
Radhika Mamidi is State Coordinator for LEPRA Society for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. She holds Masters' degrees in Human Resource Management and Social Work, and has 15 years of experience in the development sector.
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Ramana Lenka

LEPRA Society, IN
About Ramana
Ramana Lenka is District Mentor in LEPRA’s –EpiC project providing capacity development support to 15 Civil Key Population Led CBOs and PLHIV networks. He has worked with Lepra Society for 16 years in various capacities such as District Coordinator, Project Associate and Project Officer for projects addressing NTDs, WASH, Leprosy and HIV. He holds a Master’s degree in Sociology.
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Purpose: This study was conducted in a Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) endemic location in South India. It aimed to determine whether income-generating opportunities for members of low-income households would help in reducing their vulnerability to NTDs.

Method: Eleven women participated in the ‘Jagruti’ livelihood project. A baseline survey captured their demographic details, economic situation, and perspectives of the future. An end-of-project survey recorded the impact. The marketing strategy used Behaviour Change Communication through product and menstrual hygiene awareness among Self-Help Group (SHG) women, one-on-one peer education for women at home, and counselling for adolescent schoolgirls.

Results: All participating women had changed their own and their daughters’ menstrual hygiene behaviour. They felt that their entrepreneurial and communication skills had improved. The maximum and minimum individual earnings from sanitary napkin sales had been USD 54 and USD 8 per month respectively. This additional income had met pressing household needs, toilet repairs, and medical treatment of family members with COVID-19. In May 2021 the COVID-19 second wave and lockdown, as well as the state government initiative to sell sanitary napkins at subsidised rates to rural women, and free of cost to adolescent school-going girls, led to the termination of the livelihood project earlier than scheduled.

Conclusion and Implications: Sustainable livelihoods for women from low-income households can bring in additional income to be utilised for medical treatment, improving household sanitation and nutrition, etc. This may would reduce household members’ risk of contracting or transmitting NTDs. The government initiative will be routed through selected SHGs with proven efficiency. Four of the trained women entrepreneurs are confident that their SHGs will be selected and look forward to using the knowledge and experience they have gained from the livelihood project. Investment in empowering and developing the business skills of enterprising women is a worthy cause.

How to Cite: Anand, S., John, A., Mamidi, R. and Lenka, R., 2022. Lessons from a Women-led Livelihood Pilot in a Neglected Tropical Diseases endemic area in Southern India. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 33(1), pp.140–146. DOI:
Published on 15 May 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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