Each and every study of the status of socio-economic development of Kerala shows that along with the tribals, the fisherfolk is marginalized from the mainstream development of Kerala. It is indisputable that special development programmes are needed for the improvement of the socio-economic status of the fisherfolk. Considering such aspects, the Government has set up various bodies and programs for addressing specific challenges faced by the sector. For instance, an Integrated Coastal Development Programme was initiated with an estimated outlay of nearly Rs.3000 crores. For specially addressing the infra structure development components of coastal area, a Coastal Area Development Corporation was constituted.

Although infrastructure contributes to the quality of life of a community, ensuring sustainable income for fisherwomen is a basic need for the overall social upliftment of the community. Creation of suitable income generating activities for fisherwomen and ensuring their sustainability is the prime component of social development.

It was in this context that ‘Theeramythri’ project was designed and implemented. SAF targets the disadvantaged fisherwomen and provides them self-employment opportunities under this programme. Besides opportunities in the traditional fisheries sector, alternate livelihoods are also very much a part of Theeramythri. While Theeramythri programme primarily focuses on economic empowerment of fisherwomen, social and gender empowerment aspects also get impacted due to its activities.

SAF has adopted a unique development model for marginalised communities, wherein a government agency has successfully partnered with professionals on the one hand, and with community institutions on the other, for creating lasting societal impact.

SAF employs a PPP model in the Theeramythri programme involving:

  • Public (Government of Kerala, Department of Fisheries, Society for Assistance to Fisher women (SAF)
  • Panchayat (Local Self Government Institutions including Grama Panchayats, Municipalities, and Corporations)
  • Professionals agency (here ‘agency’ stands for professionals, sectoral experts, and professional institutions).