WOTR’s Humanitarian Response to COVID -19

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May, 2020

WOTR’s Humanitarian Response to COVID -19

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Distribution of food packets by a Wasundhara Sevak

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of tens of thousands around the globe and has infected hundreds of thousands of people around the world including China, Italy, Spain, UK and the United States. Many organizations are raising awareness and exploring ways to check COVID-19 from spreading and how to cope with the stress it has triggered.

In India though, the number of cases are still small as compared to many other countries, which may be attributed to early action taken to screen people coming into the country, extensive surveying as well as social distancing and a number of other measures. Various schemes have  been rolled out by states and central government to deal with the plight of migrant workers, farmers, urban and rural poor and women who are amongst the most affected by the lock down.

WOTR believes India’s poor, with limited access to fact-based information, healthcare and predominantly employed/self-employed in the unorganized sector, are expected to bear a disproportionate brunt of the economic fallout of this unprecedented health emergency. We want to do our best to make sure that our marginalized  communities with the greatest needs are not hit the hardest.

During the past few weeks, WOTR has reached 641 villages covering seven states,  impacting over 120,413, through the following measures:

Distribution of essentials: WOTR is assisting in the distribution of masks and sanitizers; helping needy families who are struggling to get rations; distributing vegetables sourced from kitchen gardens; grain distribution through colleges; besides others. We have distributed grocery kits to over 1,000  households and sanitization kits to over 9,000 households across seven states.

Documentation: WOTR is maintaining a record of incoming migrants from urban areas along with information sharing with local government officials.Household surveys with accompanying doctors are underway to screen the migrants and register maintenance.

Spreading Awareness:WOTR has shared guidelines on how to make masks, a Hindi training manual is being disseminated on managing Covid-19; songs in local dialects for maintaining physical distancing are popularized through WOTR staff on the ground— Wasundhara sevikas, Anganwadi karyakartas, Mahila pravartaks — on hand washing and covering one’s faces using handkerchief, use of masks especially by children; importance of social distancing at all public places like grocery shopping, door-to-door IEC material distribution for awareness; messages through wall paintings, and the like.

Involvement of local institutions: Jalsevakas a member of COVID 19 Protection Committee and Mahila Pravartaks are helping gram panchayats to assist in the influx of migrants; grocery distribution while facilitating the distribution of farm produce supplies ensuring social distancing; Village Development Committee in disinfectant-spraying in villages; distribution of soaps, pamphlets; Health Committee in providing daily food to 200 outsiders through own contribution; SHGs ensuring ration is given to the poor and needy.

In this special COVID-19 edition of Ecologic, we highlight the incredible work our field staff as well as the community members amidst extremely challenging conditions. We bring to you five stories on the issues related to the impact of COVID-19 in rural areas and how WOTR is assisting the rural communities to cope.

In the first story,we explore the fears and concerns of people about the pandemic, followed by a story on how multilayer farming and the kitchen garden activity has helped in ensuring food and nutrition security. Next, we look at how women’s self-help groups (SHGs) across the country are playing a critical role in combating  Covid-19. The fourth story is  on facilitating the supply of essential rations through the PDS system which was delayed for three months. And finally, we share how we have been creating awareness campaigns by providing accurate information through the IEC materials and other communication tools, henceforth dispelling fake news and false rumors.

Each of these stories highlights a different strategy that WOTR undertook to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Through this, we seek your support to augment the necessary resources for combating COVID-19 in India.

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