Kudumbashree was conceived as a joint programme of the Government of Kerala implemented through Community Development Societies (CDSs) of Poor Women, serving as the community wing of Local Governments. Kudumbashree developed an innovative methodology to identify the poor using non-economic parameters. The poor thus identified are organized under a well networked Community Based Organization (CBO). For effective convergence of the programme, a three tier community based organization (CBO) is in action. This methodology has since been incorporated into the policy framework of the State for identification of the poor.

The Three-Tier Framework

The Kudumbashree CBOs are built on a three-tier structure at the Panchayath/Municipality level, which has democratically elected governance systems under the new Panchayath Raj. At the primary level, there are the Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) with 10 to 204 members, where eligible women can enrol themselves as members. These NHGs are then affiliated to an Area Development Society (ADS) at the ward level. All the ADSs in a Panchayat/Municipality are then affiliated to a Community Development Society (CDS). The membership of Kudumbashree is through its NHG and opens to women belonging to both ‘poor’ and ‘non-poor’ households, commonly referred to as BPL and APL households. The 3 tier framework of Kudumbashree CBO structure is shown below.

  • 1.Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) - Groups of 10-20 women from the same neighbourhood form the foundation of the structure
  • 2.Area Development Society (ADS) - Federation of NHGs within a ward of the LSG
  • 3.Community Development Society (CDS) - Registered Society as the Federation of ADS within the LSG



Neighborhood Group (NHG)

The lowest tier constitutes the Neighbourhood Group with 10 to 20 women members selected from economically backward families. Meetings are convened on a weekly basis in the houses of NHG members. In the weekly meeting all members bring their thrift, which will be collected and recycled, to the system by way of sanctioning loans. In each Neighbourhood Group from among the poor women five office-bearers are selected for undertaking various functional activities.

  • 1.President
  • 2.Secretary
  • 3.Income generation activities volunteer (IGA)
  • 4.Community Health-Education Volunteer
  • 5.Infrastructure Volunteer


Area Development Society (ADS)

The second tier is the Area Development Society, which is formed at ward- level by federating all the NHGs in the ward. The activities and the decision in the ADS are decided by the representatives of the women elected from various NHGs. The Area Development Society consists of:

  • 1) General Body of ADS - Consists of all Presidents, Secretaries & three sectoral volunteers of the federated NHGs.
  • 2) Governing Body of ADS - Consists of seven member governing body elected from the general body. The seven member governing body consists of ADS chairperson, ADS vice-chairperson and ADS secretary.

The following are the ex-officio members of ADS general body and governing body:

  • 1.ICDS/Anganvadi worker
  • 2.Saksharatha Prerak
  • 3.Two experienced ex-ADS office bearers
  • 4.Local Junior Public Health Nurse

There is also provision for proportionate representation of SC/ST members in the Committee. Ward Member/Municipal Councillor of the Ward to be Patron of the ADS.



Community Development Society (CDS)

At the Panchayath/Municipal level a Community Development Society (CDS), a registered body under the Travancore-Cochin Literacy Scientific and Charitable Societies Act, is formed by federating all ADSs in the local bodies. If in a local self government region there exists more than 30 wards and corresponding number of ADSs, more than one CDS should be created to accommodate the increased number of ADSs. The CDS consists of;

1. General Body of CDS - It consists of all ADS members and ADS Governing Body members.

2. Governing Body of CDS - The Governing Body consists of Chairperson, Vice-chairperson and Member Secretary (Ex-officio member).

The CDS general body and governing body also consists of five women elected representatives and two experienced ex-CDS representatives as ex officio members.


Participation of vulnerable group

The modified byelaw provides for ensuring proportionate representation of the SC and ST communities as well as for special ADS to cater to the requirement of specific vulnerable groups.

Local Self Government and the Community Based Organizations

Kerala has a three tier PRI system with Gram Panchayats, Block Panchayats, and District Panchayaths; urban areas have separate single tier local government institutions. The Community Structure is embedded in the local self government, but has an autonomous functional character of its own. The Welfare Standing Committee of the LSG is responsible for monitoring and guidance of the community structure as part of its constitutionally mandated role. There are a number of functions that are mandated in the bylaw for the CDSs to undertake. These are in the nature of preparation of sub plans for the local self-government. These include (a) preparation of antipoverty sub-plan, Women’s Component Plan and Specific schemes for Local Economic Development, (b) identification of beneficiaries for central and state government schemes implemented through the LSGs, (c) facilitating and taking initiatives in preparing projects for income generating activities such as Joint Liability Groups in agriculture and starting micro enterprises in non-agricultural sector, (d) liaising with Banks for arranging loans for economic activities, (e) capacity development activities such as training, dissemination of information and knowledge, etc. for the women members and strengthening leadership among NHGs and ADSs, and (f) liaising with the LSG for implementing various schemes the most important being the NREGS. In addition, it is also entrusted with a number of tasks by the Kudumbashree Mission arising out of the decision or suggestion from the governmental system as in the case of awareness on gender related issues, preventing violence against women, legal literacy, and participation in continuing education and so on. The CDS Evaluation Committee and Evaluation Core Committee are the formal mechanism that brings together the LSG and the Community Structure.

Evaluation Committee of the CDS

The Evaluation Committee of the CDS is chaired by the President of the Gram Panchayath/Municipality. The Vice-President of the LSG, Chairpersons of Standing Committees of the Panchayath/Municipality and LSG Secretary are members of the Committee. The CDS Chairperson, Sub-committee conveners and Member Secretary represent the CDS. Officers of Line Departments attached to the LSG (Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, ICDS etc.) and managers of banks/financial institutions in the Panchayath/Municipality are also members of the Evaluation Committee.

The Evaluation Committee serves as the platform for bringing about convergence in the implementation of development activities in the LSG. It approves the CDS Action plan and ensures that the activities proposed in the Action Plan finds place in the allocative plans of the LSG, line departments and credit plans of financial institutions.

Evaluation Core Committee of the CDS

The Evaluation committee meetings are usually held once in three months, But for ensuring smooth convergence and functioning an evaluation core committee has been formed which consist of president of Grama Panchayath, Welfare standing Committee Chairman, CDS Chair person, Member Secretary of the CDS and a representative of the bank which extends maximum support to CDS. This committee should meet once in a month.


The CDS is the representative structure of the vast network of NHGs in the Grama Panchayat /Municipal areas. It works in close liaison with the LSG and serves as both dissemination organ for government programmes and as enunciator of community needs in governance issues. A listing of its range of functions is shown below:

  • LSG liaison
  • Linkage Banking co-ordination
  • Information Dissemination
  • Community network Strengthening Activity
  • Facilitating Income Generating Activity
  • Facilitating Identification of Poor for the purpose of LSG led Development Programmes.
  • Articulation of Community demand for Development
  • Leadership of NHGs
  • LSG Plan Intervention
        - Anti Poverty Sub Plan,
        - Women Component Plan,
        - Local Economic Development
  • Legal Literacy
  • Facilitation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes
  • LSG Plan Intervention




Kudumbashree is a network of community based organizations (CBO) for women, who have been registered as Community Development Societies under the State Charitable Societies Act. There is a common byelaw which provides the policy and functional framework for the network.

Salient Features of the CDS Byelaw
  • Membership matter of right
  • Attention to representation of vulnerable communities like SC, ST, disabled - special provisions
  • Independance from and complementarity to the local government clarified
  • Evaluation Committee of the CDS
  • CDS Action Plans (Micro Level Demand Plans)
  • Accountabiity framework incorporated
  • Independent election process ensured


Ten years of experience have indicated the various areas for clarity and modification in the Kudumbashree CDS byelaw. The CDS byelaw was comprehensively amended by Govt. wide G.O(P)198/2014/LSGD dated 13-11-2014. The new byelaws made the CDS more inclusive and representative, and clarified election procedures and LSG space vis a vis CDS, It also brought in role clarity and accountability to the system. A subcommittee of the Governing body had developed the modified byelaw through an intense, interactive, consultative process. After imparting training to all concerned which included NHG members, officials of Kudumbashree and LSGs and elected representatives on how to change over to the new byelaw, elections were conducted throughout the State at NHG, ADS, CDS levels. The election process was in a free and fair manner throughout the state in almost all CDSs and has brought in a more transparent and democratic system.


«»Bye Law





Kudumbashree Organisational Elections

Kudumbashree Community Development Society (CDS) is a three tiered community based organisation that has been established for carrying out poverty eradication measures, including that of the state government. This community organisation includes the base tier of Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) that consists of one woman each from each household of a locality, Area Development Society (ADS) that constitutes the middle tier, and the Community Development Society (CDS), the apex tier. Bringing transparency and accountability in the Community Based Organization is utmost important. For this Kudumbashree Mission has a systematic election procedure for the selection of office bearers in NHG, ADS and CDS level. This procedure in turn contribute in developing democratic values and skills among the community which will be an asset for the better functioning of the local government bodies. As per Kudumbashree CDS bylaw, elections for the Kudumbashree Executive Committee would be held once in three years. Guidelines for the conduct of the elections have been framed with the following objectives:

  • Conduct elections at appropriate times in three phases, towards constituting the Executive Committees and appointment of office bearers of the community based organizations, as per provisions laid down under section 12 Kudumbashree CDS bylaw
  • Institute a neutral mechanism for conduct of free, fair and transparent elections.
  • Evolve a unified procedure for the conduct of elections for Kudumbashree CDS organisations across the State.
  • Evolve a democratic election process that would ensure the adherence to organisational discipline and norms.

Kudumbashree District Election Officer: A district level officer that the District Collector deputes as per provisions included in the CDS Bylaw.

CDS Returning Officer: An officer designated by the District Collector as per recommendation from the District Election Officer in order to hold responsibility for the conduct of elections of a CDS three tier organisations in its entirety.

CDS Assistant Returning Officer: An officer from within a CDS operational area designated by the District Collector as per the recommendation from the District Election Officer, in order to assist the CDS Returning Officer in the discharge of his/her responsibilities.

ADS Election Officer: An officer deputed by the CDS Returning Officer as an observer of elections to one or more ADS.

NHG election presiding member: A member from within the NHGs themselves, who has been chosen and trained to function as an election presiding member for elections to the NHGs.

Election Phases

First phase: Kudumbashree NHG election process

In the first phase, Kudumbashree NHGs election meetings should be held. The general body election proceedings should commence under the leadership of NHG election presiding member who has been trained in each NHG. Members of the NHGs elect a five-member executive committee consisting of a President, a Secretary, and three Volunteers to take care of three areas of work namely (a) health and education, (b) income generation and (c) infrastructure and related issues. Each NHG should themselves decide on the venue, date and time of their election meeting.

Second phase: Kudumbashree ADS election process

The ADS constitutes of two bodies. One is the General Body consisting of the Presidents, Secretaries and Volunteers of all the affiliated NHGs in the Ward. The second is the Executive Committee consisting of seven members including a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and a Secretary, all elected by the General Body. In the second phase, ADS election meetings should be held, seven members Executive Committee elected, and the Executive Committee should convene separate meeting to elect the official functionaries namely ADS Chairperson, ADS Vice-chairperson and ADS Secretary. The venue, date and time of each ADS election meetings should be decided by the CDS Returning Officer and communicated to the NHG officials. The elected members of the NHG should be informed about the venue, date and time of the election meeting of the ADS to which they belong, by the NHG election presiding member. The elected members should acknowledge receipt of communication regarding ADS election meeting and the same should be recorded in the minute’s book.

The general body of the ADS will also elect two internal auditors, who are not ADS Executive Committee members.

Third phase: Kudumbashree CDS election process

The CDS comprises a General Body consisting of all members of the Executive Committee of all ADSs in the Panchayat/Municipality, and an Executive Committee consisting of a representative each from the Executive Committees of all ADSs. During the third phase, CDS election meting should be held and the CDS Executive committee and official functionaries elected. The Executive Committee elects two office bearers for the positions of Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of which one should be from the BPL households. The general body of the CDS will also elect two internal auditors, who are not CDS Executive Committee members, In addition, women members from the Panchayat/Municipality Council not exceeding five along with an official to function as Member Secretary, two experienced former office bearers of the CDS are also nominated as ex-officio members. Voting right is limited to only the Kudumbashree members.

The venue, date and time of the CDS election meeting should be informed to the CDS general body members. At the end of the ADS election meeting, the seven members Executive Committee of the ADS that become members of the CDS general body should be informed of the venue, date and time of the CDS election meeting of the CDS that they belong to, by the ADS Election Officer. The designated ADS Executive Committee members should acknowledge the receipt of the communication and the same should be recorded in the ADS minutes book.

One position between NHG President/Secretary should be reserved compulsorily for a BPL representative. However in case of NHGs without BPL representation, both positions may be occupied by APL members. Between the ADS Chairperson and Secretary, one position should be reserved for a BPL representative of the Executive Committee. Between the CDS Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson too, one position should be reserved for a BPL representative of the Executive Committee. A minimum of 50% representation of BPL members should be ensured for ADS and CDS Executive Committee. There is also provision for proportionate representation of SC/ST members in the NHG, ADS and CDS Committees.





As per the modified byelaws, the CDS has to prepare and implement a 'CDS Action Plan'. This is a demand plan, consolidating the status of interventions in the areas of microfinance entrepreneurship, farming, social development activities etc. and indicating quantum of need in each of these areas.

A micro plan is created at the NHG level to understand the volume of demands of the neighbourhood group. This plan includes social development, economic development and gender development as well. The micro planning is not an exercise that can be completed in one sitting of an NHG. Micro plans are consolidated at the ward level. Such consolidated plans are called Mini plans. Mini plans are further consolidated into the CDS action plan at Panchayath/Municipality level. CDS action plan is a demand plan that forms the basis of action for the CDS as well as the Panchayath/Municipality to support development and livelihood initiatives for the poor. The CDS action plan prepared through the network was approved by the local government institution as per the recommendations of Kudumbashree evaluation committee headed by LSG president. The CDS Action plan is to be integrated with the development plans of the local self governments.


The micro demand plans of the NHG are consolidated at ADS & CDS level to form the CDS Action Plans. After a process of consultation with the LSG Standing Committees and Evaluation Committees, the CDS Action plan is given formal approval by the LSG. Implementation is monitored by the evaluation committee of the CDS.

Evaluation Committee

The Kudumbashree byelaws provide for an LSG led Evaluation Committee to monitor and coordinate the CDS Action Plan. The Evaluation Committee serves as the platform for bringing about convergence in the implementation of development activities in the LSG. It approves the CDS Action plan and ensures that the activities proposed in the Action Plan finds place in the allocative plans of the LSG, line departments and credit plans of financial institutions.

The Evaluation Committee of the CDS is chaired by the President of the Gram Panchayat/Municipality. The composition of the 25 member committee is as follows:-

1. LSGI President/chairperson/mayor
2. CDS Chairperson
3. CDS Member Secretary
4 LSGI Secretary
5. LSGI Vice president/Vice Chair person/ Deputy Mayor
6. Development and Welfare Standing Committee Chairperson
7. Heads of Departments under LSG
8. CDS vice chair persons
9. Women(not more than 5) elected representatives nominated to CDS by the LSGs
10. 2 Experienced former CDS office bearers
11. Income generation , health education and infra structure volunteers of CDS
12. Representatives of Banking/Financial Institutions

The major responsibilities of the committee are as follows.

1. To assess the progress of the CDS action plan for poverty alleviation and to support and give guidelines where necessary.
2. To integrate the different poverty alleviation programmes of local self governments with Kudumbashree programmes.
3. Support the CDS by the appropriate utilization of different resources available with the local self government.
4 Outsource possible economic-technical services for the maximum effectiveness of the CDS programmes.
5. To support micro enterprises and marketing of products.
6. Facilitate the women empowerment programmes of Kudumbashree.






The Kudumbashree network of community organizations now covers about half of the total families in the State. In addressing issues of poverty from multiple angles, the efforts of Kudumbashree are focused in three key areas – economic empowerment, social empowerment and gender empowerment. Capacity building of stakeholders is a very important part of these efforts. Kudumbashree’s training programmes are pro-active, and are aimed at being more than mere knowledge or information delivery. Training programmes are seen as opportunities to engage with the stakeholders, help them understand and assimilate organizational priorities, and at the same time, give feedback from the grassroots.


Institutional tie-ups have been made with established training agencies. Services of Kudumbashree’s training enterprises are utilized for conducting training programmes. Pools of resource persons have been developed at different tiers, with specific orientation to deal with capacity building at their respective levels.



Organizational training to help enhance the quality of functioning of the organizational network, focusing on developing abilities of the women in leadership and management. About 30 lakh women have been involved in organizational training, so far.

Enterprise training to help individual and group entrepreneurs enhance their business capabilities. Involves constant inputs at different stages of the enterprise cycle-General Orientation for potential entrepreneurs, Skill Development initially and Performance Improvement programmes on a periodic basis.

Financial services training on services in the area of Micro Finance and additional support to the community organization for engaging with financial institutions in an effective manner.

Social and Gender empowerment training for mainstreaming issues of the marginalized, particularly the women and SC-ST communities. A separate training and self learning programme for assessing and addressing rights based issues.


Kudumbashree imparts training through several means. Institutional tie-ups have been made with established training agencies like Entrepreneur Development Institute. We have linkages with specialized agencies for performance improvement programme. Services of Kudumbashree’s training enterprises like EKSAT and KAASS are utilized for conducting training programmes for entrepreneur development and financial services.

In line with the multi-tiered structure of the Kudumbashree network, a cascading system of training is adopted. Pools of resource persons have been developed at different tiers, with specific orientation to deal with capacity building at their respective levels. This system ensures high cost-effectiveness in planning and delivery of training programmes and at the same time, participation of local volunteers helps create a suitable social environment for development.

All training programmes conducted by Kudumbashree follow participatory methodologies right through content development to delivery.


Story behind the 1st Women Industrial Training Centre

They told her that there was no way her group of determined women were going to bring an Industrial training centre to the mountains of Idukki. Her first attempt brought failure and derision. But that steeled the resolve of the band of women under the leadership of Mini Sabu, the chairperson of the Community Development Society (CDS) of Vathikudi panchayat in Idukki. They got the District Panchayat to help with infrastructure, learned the ropes of administering an ITC from the Prinicipal of Government ITI in kattapana, positioned faculty and equipment, and petitioned the inspection team from Delhi for a second visit. That paved the way for the first ever all - women Industrial Training Centre of the state, opening new avenues for skill development for the poor women of the high ranges.