COVID19 may no longer remain an urban phenomenon. With thousands of migrant daily wage workers starting to move back to their villages, the infection could well multiply manifold in the coming days. And COVID-19 could become a ‘community threat’. One of the biggest challenges in remote rural areas, apart from inadequate Corona virus healthcare facilities at their doorsteps, is the lack of awareness about the pandemic and the measures that are essential to keep one safe and secure in this situation. Unavailability of ration, masks and sanitizers, testing kits, and adequate healthcare facilities especially for COVID-19, are the other lacunae that make the challenge look insurmountable at the moment.
PRADAN, present in around 9,000 very remote and backward villages of 36 poorest districts in seven states of India, touches almost 4.5 million lives every day. Through its presence and deep rooted community relationships it is uniquely placed to support all COVID-19 related interventions, besides feedback to the administration on the situation and needs of the community on the ground. We have pro-actively adopted a seven-pronged strategy to support our communities.
- Awareness Generation: Developing IEC materials and organizing awareness sessions (mostly through ICT based solutions) about what is COVID-19 & Do’s-Don’ts to be followed to safeguard from infection.
- Ration & safety essentials: Ensuring door to door supply of food grains and oils, a few other items of daily necessities including cleaning materials like soaps, sanitizers, detergents etc.
- Production of safety equipments: Masks are not that easily available in rural areas. So we are providing trainings to SHG women on how to make masks, and use natural alternatives for soaps and hand sanitizers.
- Community kitchen to ensure food for migrant workers: As most of the migrant workers do not have PDS cards accessing regular rations is not a possibility for them. So food made in community kitchens can help the villagers cater the population.
- Surveillance on migrant workers returning to villages: It’s of prime-most importance and also the biggest challenge to segregate the migrant population from the rest of the villagers to avoid transmission. We will be working with SHG members and Anganwadi Sahiyas to ensure that the immigrants and people with symptoms are screened and sent to quarantines.
- Quarantine/Isolation facilities: Along with SHG led federations and Panchayats, we are working to convert Anganwadi centres, Panchayat buildings and school buildings into quarantine/isolation centres for the migrant workers who are coming back to their villages now.
- Knowledge exchange platform: We are setting up an interactive webpage to share learnings, best practices, bulletins, updates, address queries, and provide expert inputs and guidance on COVID19. This, we believe, will enable our staff and various other external stakeholders get authentic details related to the crisis in rural India and formulate strategies of relief work accordingly.