The COVID-19 preventive lockdown has changed the life of every individual in the country. While the lockdown is laudable and very much required to fight the pandemic, it has also led to numerous problems, especially for the underprivileged section of the society who live in a ‘hand to mouth’ situation throughout the year. Millions of daily wage earners have lost their jobs and are struggling to fend for themselves and their families.
COVID-19 has not only affected the health of the people but also affected their livelihood options. The lockdown has hit the informal workforce and their families, affecting women and children the hardest. Uncertainty looms large on the minds of weekly and daily wage workers. Millions of daily wage laborers both in the agricultural and non-agricultural sector, rickshaw pullers in towns and cities coming from distant villages, barbers and washer(wo)men, street vendors and domestic servants, auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, healthcare and sanitary workers have lost their jobs or are anxious about job loss and food security.
And horrifyingly, rural landless and other vulnerable sections became more susceptible to disease, its effects, and hunger due to changes caused by the pandemic. This particular section needed more assistance so that they can earn in their villages and have enough food to sustain this crisis period.
ASORD initiated awareness generation activities for COVID 19, in the village and took following initiatives to strengthen MGNREGA work in the villages –
- Helped the Janpad panchayat Magarlod NREGA team in filling the demand form for the work in the villages.
- Arranged water and soap in each site for the hand washing of the NREGA workers
- Facilitated workers to maintain social distancing during the work as preventive measures are the only cure for the existing crisis.
Team ASORD focused on the increasing person-days per job card so that maximum persons can get work and a reasonable amount of money can get into their hand in a crisis situation. 1400 files were submitted in Janpad Panchayat for sanctioning and INR 1000 lakhs worth of jobs/person-days were given to the villages in the period of lockdown.
These efforts were fruitful and Magarlod block achieved its 74% of person-days target in July 2020 and 13 tribal gram panchayats achieved 70 days person-day per job card on an average. These exercises decreased the impact of lockdown on tribal communities of Magarlod to a vast extent.
Meanwhile reverse migration brought 536 labours from the other states and district into the Magarlod. They were relying on their heritage agriculture lands which either have uncertain productivity or they were already occupied by their other family members. Team ASORD took a survey of the migrant labours and assisted them to add their name in the NREGA job card list so that those migrant labours can get work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
ASORD team also got the financial assistance to distribute dry food kits in the Magarlod block. While we were identifying the H.H. of the vulnerable and deprived families who needed these kits immediately, we received more than thousands of recommendations from the PRI members of village and SHG groups.
Simultaneously, a survey of Zila Panchayat was also completed by the team.
We then identified 500 most needed H.H. as per the target and distributed dry food kits to all.
Sukhmati didi from the Bhotha village lives with her family and was facing problems in completing the requirements of food needed by the family. When she received the food kit along with the other didis of the village, a sigh of relief was seen on her face during the distribution. Such initiatives are little sparks of hope in dark times like these.