Empowering Pune’s Construction Workers: The Worker-to-Change-Agent Project
Introduction: The “Worker-to-Change-Agent” project, implemented by the Spherule Foundation in Pune’s Kelewadi area, aimed to address the various challenges faced by construction workers. These challenges included casual employment, a lack of social security, uncertain working hours, unsafe conditions, occupational diseases, and injuries. The project focused on transforming social protection recipients into change agents within their communities, promoting sustainability and awareness about social security schemes.
Project Activities: The project activities included community mapping, home visits, identifying Key Opening Leaders (KOLs), training KOLs in digital literacy and social schemes, awareness sessions on digital literacy and social security schemes, and field orientation for KOLs to identify eligible beneficiaries. It also involved official visits to the Labor Welfare Department and Labor Office, document collection, verification, and supporting beneficiaries in obtaining missing documents. Additionally, it covered the distribution of various cards and kits, such as BOCW, E-Shram, ABHA, and facilitating bank account openings.
Project Beginning: The project commenced in April 2022 in Pune, with surveys conducted in areas like Kelewadi, Laxmi Nagar, and Kothrud. Kelewadi was selected as the project location due to its high concentration of construction workers and the need for social security measures. Baseline data and beneficiary mapping were established, and KOLs were identified and trained.
KOL Identification: The project identified KOLs within the Kelewadi community, individuals interested in serving their community, and provided them with the necessary qualifications.
KOL’s Training: KOLs received training in digital literacy, including online applications, social media, and online banking. They were also educated on government schemes and their application procedures, such as BOCW, E-Shram, and ABHA.
Social Security Card Registration: KOLs began the registration and document collection processes for construction workers, which included door-to-door registration and document collection.
BOCW Online Registration: Contractors’ letters were signed on construction sites to facilitate online registration for the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) scheme.
BOCW Cards and Labor Kits: Workers registered under BOCW became eligible for various benefits, including death, maternity, funeral, and accidental benefits, as well as pension schemes and grant opportunities for work-related tools. They were also eligible for government housing schemes, medical expenses, free education, and more.
E-Shram Card Online Registration: E-Shram cards offered benefits like a pension of Rs. 3,000 per month, death insurance, and financial aid in case of partial handicap. These cards were registered for and distributed.
ABHA Health ID Online Registration: ABHA health IDs allowed access to medical records and facilitated sharing with healthcare providers. This card was valid for various medical treatments.
Bank Account Opening: The project assisted in opening bank accounts for workers, ensuring financial inclusion.
Outcomes: Change agents, the trained KOLs, mobilized the community effectively. The program gained acceptance and support from the community, resulting in greater uptake of government schemes and services. The project successfully piloted its interventions in Kelewadi, benefiting 1,000 workers. Key findings included 12 identified KOLs who reached 1,000 beneficiaries, many of whom were eligible for various schemes.
Project Details: The project aimed to benefit 1,000 target beneficiaries, with a total of 3,019 beneficiaries reached. It received 3,038 applications and provided 3,102 benefits.
Project Challenges: Several challenges were encountered, such as laborers not being registered under specific contractors, cancellation of forms due to incomplete documents, lack of savings accounts, technical issues from labor departments, illiteracy among migrant laborers, and changes in the location of the Labor Office, among other obstacles.
In summary, the “Worker-to-Change-Agent” project in Pune’s Kelewadi area made significant strides in improving the social security and awareness of construction workers. It transformed beneficiaries into change agents and successfully addressed a multitude of challenges while overcoming various hurdles in the process.