Coronavirus pandemic has taken a serious toll on people’s lives across the globe, and India is no different. As the COVID-19 cases continue to rise and have crossed 1 lakh in India, the civil society organisations in the country are leaving no stone unturned in spreading awareness to flatten the curve, and in ensuring food security to the communities during this time of crisis. Welthungerhilfe’s partners present across different locations in the country are taking every possible effort to support the communities in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. Representatives of partner organisations are indeed working like corona warriors going an extra mile. Here are examples of the commitment showed by team members of Welthungerhilfe’s partner – Prayog in Chhattisgarh.
Ensuring handwashing and social distancing
Meena Verma is the district coordinator of Prayog in Raipur district, Chhattisgarh. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, she has been organizing awareness campaigns on the need to follow handwashing and hygiene practices and maintain social distance. In Khorsi village, Raipur district, she first reached out to a group of 25 individuals which included 10 children, six women group members, four youths and five village elders. She shared her knowledge and advocated the importance of handwashing and following hygiene practices to combat COVID-19. Gradually, she was able to reach out to almost 250 individuals throughout the village and information was also further shared over phones with others.
The campaign brought about high levels of awareness among the community who are now regularly following handwashing practices in their respective homes. The Sarpanch (village headman) of the village along with the youth are also ensuring that suggested social distancing norms are followed in public spaces in the villages, particularly at PDS (public distribution system) shops. The village ASHA workers have also joined Meena’s campaign and have sensitized the community on various seasonal diseases. They also prepared a list of migrants who had returned from other states. These migrant families were supported with dry ration through PDS system, vegetables and other relief material as provided by the government.
Food security for vulnerable families
For communities living in Bharatpur tehsil, Korea district in Chhattisgarh, coronavirus had a serious effect on their daily lives. Bharatpur tehsil is approximately 145 kilometers from the district headquarters and is mostly surrounded by forests and hills. The area is inhabited by various tribes such as Baiga, Pando, Gond, Agariya, Kanwar and Cherwa, who are socially and economically backward communities. They are mostly dependent on agriculture, collecting forest produce and manual labour; and thousands of people from the area also migrate regularly to other states in search of livelihood.
Following the nationwide lockdown announced on 24th March 2020, many of these communities lost their source of income; migrant workers lost their jobs, overnight. Although the government announced distribution of free dry ration for two months under the PDS system, not everyone belonging to the vulnerable communities was able to access it. Personal greed, non-possession of ration cards and at times even corruption made the accessibility difficult. During this time, Rajendra Chandel, district coordinator of Korea worked towards ensuring food security for the community. He immediately coordinated with the sarpanch and secretaries of 18 villages where ration was not distributed, and families were facing acute shortage of food supplies. After rigorously following up with the local authorities, he was able to ensure two months of dry ration for 7,670 families in 18 villages.
In Chhattisgarh, Prayog/Ekta Parishad is closely working with the community and local administration with an aim to bring back normalcy in the region. And representatives like Meena Verma and Rajendra Chandel from Prayog are of utmost importance in ensuring last mile connectivity during such a serious pandemic. They are working with a holistic approach by focusing on hygiene, social distancing and ensuring food security for the vulnerable families.