Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF) was registered under Travancore- Cochin Literary and Charitable Societies Act on 1st June 2005 with the mandate to work for the empowermentof fisherwomen across Kerala state

The pre-cursor to the formation of SAF was the Tsunami calamity of December 2004. Tsunami left behind huge and widespread destruction in the nine coastal villages of Kerala. 25 lakh coast-dwelling people were affected by the tragedy. Besides the loss of hundreds of human lives, fishermen families also suffered loss of their houses, boats, crafts and other personal possessions. In order to provide relief and rehabilitation to the affected, Government of Kerala devised and implemented two programmes- the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme (TRP) (supported by the Asian Development Bank) and Tsunami Emergency Assistance Programme (TEAP). Later, additional assistance was brought in through the Prime Ministers National ReliefFund(PMNRF).

The total outlay of the livelihood component of these programmes was about Rs. 89 crores, and around 2500 livelihood initiatives and microenterprises of the Tsunami affected were facilitated. The enterprises thus started has provided alternate livelihoods to the affected people in diverse categories as fish processing, tailoring, food processing, hygiene product units and seafood kitchens. In order to address the diversified livelihood needs of the coastal area especially the fisher folk, 60 sub projects were undertaken under these projects.

They were broadly classified as under:

  • Projects for rejuvenating the community groups and promoting formation of new groups to carry out the livelihood initiatives.
  • Projects to enhance the income generation by improving existing livelihood activities or by providing new activities.
  • Micro Enterprises development and promotion.
  • Creating common facilities such as Common Production Centers, Community Resource Centre.
  • Projects for technology improvement and technology adaptations.
  • Projects for Risk Mitigation.
  • Creating marketing supports.
  • Information dissemination and capacity Building.
  • Projects for providing hand holding supports.

The general approach taken during the project formulation stage itself was to include necessary sub project components that could ensure the implementation of that project smoothly by its own as well as providing sufficient space for utilizing the support components available under other sub projects.

Nearly one lakh coastal families received assistance through TRP livelihood component. 80% of the incomes generating activities were initiated by women beneficiary groups. Even though the beneficiaries of these projects were identified and supported by virtue of the disaster the project implementation methodology had built in an implementation process which invariably incorporated capacity building that had helped a lot to empower them with necessary skills including attitudinal changes to carry forward their enterprises.

Later, the various Tsunami relief programmes were merged under a new and holistic livelihood programme named “Theeramythri’ and Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF) was entrusted the responsibility of executing this programme.