Self Help Groups in Mozambique
Meet Julieta Lhongo (not real name). Julieta is 24 years old and has two children. She is a member of a young women’s self-help-group (SHG), that the members have named “Hope”. The members of the group are putting into practice the health messages they have been learning through the work of Oasis. Julieta is seen here in the photo (below) using a tippy tap. Studies show that something as simple as proper hand washing techniques can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea by 42-47%. The Hope SHG, and other women who are part of the project, are leading the way in contributing to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
Over the last three years, Oasis in Mozambique has been encouraging the formation of Self-Help-Groups among vulnerable women. These groups are strikingly simple in their set up as women’s groups which meet for health trainings, support and accountability. These build on existing relationships between women as well as introducing new friendships. Oasis gives training on how the SHG should be run and the main purpose of these groups is savings and loans. As soon as groups are formed, they are encouraged to begin saving together. The women set their own rules for the group and regarding savings. The group decides how much each member will save per week in mandatory savings. Women also have the option to save voluntary savings of any amount. Rules vary from group to group, but most decide that women do not have access to their mandatory savings deposits except under special circumstances, but can access their voluntary savings at each group meeting. Oasis has developed a manual which instructs women on how to set aside mandatory and voluntary savings and use simple math to track the growth of savings; learn responsible lending and borrowing; study basic bookkeeping principles that enable the group to function self-sufficiently; and gain insight into sound entrepreneurship.
These SHG also host special trainings sessions on topics such as child care (advocacy child rights), health & hygiene, and Income Generating Activities.