As the second wave of COVID-19 turns out to be one of the deadliest humanitarian crisis for India, Welthungerhilfe’s partner Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan is working aggressively to address the situation in the Bundelkhand region. With new evolving variants of COVID-19, its symptoms, and upgraded safety protocols, the need is to create awareness of the local communities on the emerging trends and scientific knowledge.
To bust the ongoing myths and misleading information, and empower the people with correct information, Parmarth has initiated a mass scale awareness campaign for the communities in Bundelkhand region on 25th April, 2021. The campaign has been initiated in six districts of Bundelkhand namely Jhansi, Lalitpur, Hamirpur and Jalaun in Uttar Pradesh, and Tikamgarh and Chhatarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh. Withing 10 days of implementing the campaign, taking cue, the Uttar Pradesh government has ordered for a door-to-door testing in 97,000 revenue villages across the state.
Mass awareness campaign – busting myths and rumours
Parmarth has formed 10 teams for this campaign and active volunteers are leading this campaign in the villages. Each team is reaching to 500 households daily and is creating awareness amongst the people on various COVID-19 precautions such as the need to wear N95 masks or double masks to protect oneself from the new variants, new symptoms of the evolving variants in the second wave, maintaining social distance and following proper hand wash practices.
Till date, the campaign has been completed in 24 villages where Jal sahelis (women water warriors), Pani Panchayat members and self-help group (SHGs) members have provided their wholehearted support to this campaign.
Working on-ground for COVID-19 relief since the past few months, the team is of the opinion that the actual conditions of the villages have not been adequately covered by the mainstream media and newspapers. In the month of April, several individuals have fallen sick in the Bundelkhand region. Most of these individuals consulted local doctors and following the prescribed medications have now recovered.
Parmarth campaign team is also motivating the communities to get the COVID-19 vaccines as per government guidelines and trying to dispel the myths and rumours related to testing and vaccination. The campaign has brought about a change in the mindset of the people and lots of people are now ready to get tested and vaccinated. Wearing masks and maintaining social distance have also become a regular phenomenon in the villages which was not a common sight earlier.
Joining hands with the administration
Leading from the forefront, Dr. Sanjay Singh, Secretary, Parmarth visited Punawali Kalan village in Babina block of Jhansi district. Prior to the initiation of this campaign, a meeting was held with the District Magistrate, Jhansi and he assured of full support to Parmarth team and instructed Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers to provide their support to this campaign.
On 28th April, the District Magistrate of Jalaun, Smt. Priyanka Niranjan called a meeting with Parmarth team and mentioned that there is an urgent need of such campaign to motivate people to come forward for testing and vaccination in the villages of the district and assured of full administrative support to the team.
In each focus districts, meetings with district officials such as the District Magistrate and Sub-Divisional Magistrate were held where they have been informed about the campaign to get their consent and support for the campaign.
Supporting returning migrants
With many states calling for local lockdowns and weekend curfews, many migrants have returned to their villages, and are now without any livelihood option. Panchayat elections recently held in Uttar Pradesh also led to MGNREGA work being halted till the formation of new Panchayats in the villages. The local communities are not getting any work and the economic condition of the people has worsened with their buying capacities being severely affected. Like previous year, this year also the COVID0-19 upsurge has been witnessed in the harvesting season affecting harvesting. There is a need for providing alternative employment options to the needy people now.
Influencing the UP state government
Dr. Sanjay Singh, Secretary Parmarth, shared the lessons learnt from the campaign with Mr. Amit Mohan Prasad, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, UP. He was apprised on the campaign details and the immediate need to focus on villages to restrain spread of the pandemic and emphasize on the importance of vaccination.
Taking cue from Parmarth’s campaign and based on the observations, the State Government has issued an order for a door-to-door testing in 97,000 revenue villages in the state. The Health Department personnel will visit the villages for a door-to-door testing of individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. This will help in screening of infected people and make everyone better prepared for for any unforeseen circumstances. This testing campaign has started from 5th May in the villages and will continue for five days.
Parmarth’s campaign supported by Welthungerhilfe will continue for 15 days until 10th May 2021. The campaign aims to reach out to almost 1,00,000 households to create awareness on COVID-19 pandemic.
This update is based on inputs received from Parmarth.