With the lockdown extended, food supplies and livelihoods are emerging as key areas of concern in rural districts. Local administration and nonprofits are working together to help resolve some of these issues.
Prior to COVID-19, I was responsible for training the women of the mahila mandals, providing them with technical support on agriculture, and working with farmers during rabi harvesting on yield assessments, harvesting techniques, and so on.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Jharkhand and we moved into lockdown mode, my colleague Abhishek and I were assigned to the District Control Room (DCR) in Khunti.
The DCR is a coordinating unit that sits within the government administration, and fields calls from community members across the different villages and blocks that make up the district. We then relay these messages to the relevant government officials; in most cases these are the district officials or Block Development Officers (BDOs). The objective is to ensure that the government understands the problems on the ground and resolves them as soon as possible.
Since the lockdown, we have been working 24×7. There has been no respite. Sometimes, our work starts at 6 AM and goes on until midnight; at other times it goes on from 10 PM until the early hours of the morning.
Initially, most of the calls were around food supplies. “We haven’t got our rations, we don’t have any food left.” Some are around the law and order situation, some for passes to move around the block and district. We’ve also had migrant workers calling from outside the state, asking for help.