These were some of the most common answers we got while analyzing how the COVID-19 lockdown has impacted people in some of the far flung villages of north-eastern Jharkhand, also referred as Santhal Pargana. And even without conducting a survey one could tell that more than 70% of the rural poor depend on remittances to run their household expenses or to fulfill their aspiration of leading a ‘better life’!
PRADAN being the National Rural Livelihoods Mission Support Organization (NSO), has been supporting Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) since 2015. Apart from assisting farmers in developing vision, adopting approaches and strategies, and creating perspective plan around livelihoods we also provide technical and handholding support to the field teams by placing Community Resource Persons around Livelihood (L-CRPs). These cadres are selected, groomed, and placed in different blocks where PRADAN supports.
Seetabai and Balram stepped out to meet the Panchayat leader to ask when the land development work was going to start in their village. It being the end of spring in their part of Chhattisgarh, the mid-day sun of early-April was reasonably warm.
Sunita Mahato never thought, even in her wildest dreams, that a day would come when everyone in Asantaliya Panchayat would know her name, respect her, and would be eager to contact her. Farming has been in Sunita’s genes, being the daughter of a farmer and married to a farmer. Even when she first learnt and applied System of Root Intensification on her paddy field to witness a sea change in the yield, this thought that one day she would be a common name in every farmer-household of Asantalia was far beyond fathom for Sunita. It has been a few years since then. Sunita mastered various improved agricultural techniques, her fervor increased.
“We are here not for a gram of grain, it’s about our rights, about our entitlements. And if we have to fight to secure it, we mustn’t recede.” 70 odd women members from Jagriti Mahila Sangh of Dumarkudar village organisation of Bokaro district took this pledge three weeks back.
The local quack pulled up Fulchand’s right eye-lid and stared at it for a few seconds. There wasn’t any sign of life. The quack swung his head in negation and silently left the hut. Siyabati’s vision got blurred. That a day would come in her life when the hands she depended upon blindly will no longer be there for her, was something that Siyabati had never imagined.
It was an early morning call from Nazma Khatun. Her voice was trembling on the other side of the call. She is an SHG member from a small village called Deogawan in Deosar block of Madhya Pradesh. When the nationwide lockdown was first announced in March, our phones got flooded with similar calls from the hamlets.