The country has faced an unprecedented disaster in form of Covid -19 and the subsequent lockdown. As a result of this lockdown, public transport — railways, buses, taxis etc.— have come to a halt. The citizens are expected to come out of their houses only for essential requirements. However, the lockdown has had a ripple effect on several marginalised groups.
The lockdown has triggered a reverse migration. Migrant workers from urban areas are going back to their villages, since their income in the cities have come to a stop. Not only, do these people have to find a foothold back in their native villages, but they also have to bear with the stigma of being referred to as ‘coronavirus carriers’.
CAF India in association with its partner NGO, Samarthan addressed the challenges of returnee migrants in rural Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. CAF India has been able to reach out to 16,417 households with a population of 82,087 in the two states.
Supporting the returnee migrants
Several interventions were carried out. Food and other essentials were provided to the migrant families. Gram panchayats were encouraged to develop schools and other public buildings as quarantine centres. Mass awareness programmes were created among the citizens and returnee migrants in rural areas to stay safe in a creative manner through wall painting with important messages at strategic places in the villages.
Besides this, several marginalised families in the villages were helped in accessing the benefits, entitlements provided by the government.
Connecting with Government Schemes
For instance, Chambui, a resident of Dhaboti village, in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh was helped in acquiring a LPG cylinder under the Ujjwala scheme. For weeks, Chambui had struggled to get her gas cylinder refilled due to the lack of money. The lockdown made it worse. Even though the gas agency brought cylinders in the village, the residents were unaware of the fact that they already had money in their bank accounts for purchasing/ refilling their gas cylinders. It was only when CAF India along with its partner NGO intervened, Chambui saw a ray of hope.
CAF India reached out to the poor families and helped them avail the benefits of Central Governments’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana.The list of beneficiaries under this scheme was prepared and after confirmation of the deposit from the bank, all the 12 households that were listed, were provided with a gas cylinders.
In Adamgondi village, Rajnandangaon district of Chhattisgarh, villagers were helped in availing the benefits of Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, Ujjwala gas scheme and women’s Jan Dhan account.They were put in touch with a ‘Bank Mitra’ from Dena Bank and were helped in withdrawing money from their Aadhar-linked bank accounts. After the second phase of the lockdown, a total of Rs. 82,500 was paid to 150 women of the village.
Food Self Sufficiency
To meet the demands of the villagers of Halamkodo village, Chhattisgarh, the Gram Panchayat decided to set up a commodity relief fund. Several villagers donated food grains and cash as per their will and strength. With the help of this fund, the gram panchayat has provided 5 kg of rice, 1 kg pulse, 1 kg potato, chilli, salt, oil etc. In addition, 29 very poor families have been identified by the Gram Panchayat who will need cooperation in the coming time. The story of this small village shows how philanthropy can help overcome crisis.
In Handitola village of Chhattisgarh, the villagers, powered by 18 self-help groups (SHGs) led by women, decided to grow their own food. Fifteen members of the SHGs group have pooled in to acquire 60 dismil (less than an acre) of the farmland, in which these women are cultivating brinjal, ladyfinger, cowpea and cluster beans. This initiative has helped these women to not only feed their own families, but other villagers as well. Villagers are becoming self reliant in fulfilling their food and nutritional needs.
The Covid-19 pandemic also took a toll on the work commissioned under central government’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme. Several villagers in village panchayat Halamkodo found themselves out of work. CAF India with its partner Samarthan intervened and facilitated the employment of 189 labourers for two construction projects.
Awareness generations on the concepts of social distancing and good hand hygiene were carried out in full swing in villages in Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh. Wall paintings with messages on precautions to take during the pandemic have been painted all over the villages. Residents have also been encouraged to wash their hands often with soap to avoid infections. To maintain social distancing, circles were made near all public places or drinking water sources. Villagers were asked to stay home and come out only if it’s very urgent, covering their mouth with towels or masks. The mass awareness drive has now finally yielded results. Residents and shop owners have now understood that Covid-19 is a dangerous communicable disease, and if social distancing is not maintained, it can spread more rapidly.
These interventions have proved that good governance is the foundation for sustained and equitable development during such a crisis.
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India is a registered not-for-profit organization established in New Delhi, India in 1998 nurturing the culture of giving with impact. The imbibing of this culture emboldens our approach of creating a positive change in the community by reaching to the last mile person.