September 13, 2016: Willis Processing Services (India) Private Limited, a captive back office for Willis Tower Watson group engaged in a risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory services has partnered with a global NGO Habitat for Humanity (HFH) India to build new houses for the widows of farmers who have committed suicide in the Marathwada region. This project will support 250 individuals by constructing 50 new houses in Osmanabad, Marathwada region with an aim to support farm widows with safe, secure and affordable housing.
The Marathwada region of Maharashtra has one of the highest rates of farmer suicides in the state. In 2014, Marathwada reported 565 suicides, the highest in the state, recording an increase of 173% over its 2013 figure of 207 suicides. This works out to a chilling statistic of almost seven farmer suicides every day. The families of these farmers live in extreme poverty, poor health and with highly unsafe and substandard housing.
Under this partnership the families will be provided with brick and mortar houses as against the stone and mud houses that they lived in earlier. All the houses will be equipped with sanitation units, drinking water supply and rainwater harvesting facilities. Also, Habitat for Humanity India will conduct Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) to create awareness on the importance of hygiene and sanitation which also supports to Governments Swacch Bharat Abhiyan campaign in the target location to reach out mass individuals.
Speaking about the initiative, Rajan Samuel, Managing Director, Habitat for Humanity India said, “This is an important intervention which aims to rebuild the lives of those shattered by loss of their bread winner by creating an asset base for the widows. We aim to assure a better livelihood and provide security to the widows of the farmers by providing improved shelter and sanitation facilities. Through this partnership with Willis Tower Watson we will impact the lives of 250 individuals of Osmanabad by building 50 new houses with sanitation facilities.
Simon Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Willis Processing Services (India) Private Limited – Mumbai, said “We were deeply saddened with the frequent news items about farmers in Maharashtra committing suicide due to the severe drought spread over 2 years. We were very concerned about the families of the deceased farmers. They had not only lost their sole/main income earner/provider but were also finding it difficult to cope with the aftermath. They were struggling to meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Housing was the most expensive component and critical in providing stability as they tried to re-build their lives. This was the reason we decided to support the widows of the deceased farmers by providing them with Housing.”
Since 2010, Habitat for Humanity India has built homes and sanitation units in Marathwada region impacting 6000 families.