By Asif Alam Mazumder & Vikas Prakash Joshi in Madhya Pradesh
With poor living conditions, overcrowding of places and over 70% of the population employed in the unorganized sector, the poor and underprivileged in India are in distress. They are now anxious due to loss of livelihood, lack of knowledge and awareness about COVID-19. WOTR has been creating awareness and providing accurate information to dispel fake news, false rumours and myths while taking preventive steps to curb the spread of corona virus.
Use of creation of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials in local-languages — including visual aids to explain what the virus is, how it spreads and preventive measures based on Government data inputs, is one of the main interventions WOTR is undertaking to combat the pandemic.
Despite the lockdown, WOTR has ensured awareness is created in the project villages on prevention and safety measures through village level workers like the Panlotsevaks (Watershed Technical Experts), Jalsevaks (Water Caretakers) and Mahila Pravartaks (Women Promoters) and members of village institutions like Village Development Committee (VDC), Self Help Groups (SHGs), Gram Panchayats etc. The field team is encouraging the local communities through phone calls to support their action, to guide them and motivate them in these challenging times.
Awareness generation is also being facilitated by our Wasundhara Sevaks/Sevikas, Anganwadi Karyakartas and Mahila pravartaks. on various sanitation methods including proper hand washing, covering faces using a handkerchief, importance of social distancing in public places like grocery shops, door-to-door IEC material distribution for awareness, messages through wall paintings, and the like.
Considering the unprecedented challenge of COVID19, awareness creation in the local language is critical. Our Madhya Pradesh team has prepared five info kits for the rural communities on the methods of tackling COVID-19. The info kits are in Hindi — including a booklet for the Women’s Promoters (Mahila Pravartaks) specifying the guidelines to be followed when working in the villages, reading material about COVID-19, a publication on how to make masks from locally available material, a detailed poster explaining the COVID-19 virus and how to take precautions and lastly, a detailed guideline for the Village Development Committees on what steps/precautions should be followed at the VDC level.
In the info kits seen above, the first one, on the left side, explains the correct techniques of hand-washing while the one on the right side gives a detailed explanation of COVID-19, its symptoms and the steps to be taken by Mahila Pravartaks and Wasundhara Sevikas to prevent the spread of this virus during the lockdown.
Besides, our Wasundhara Sevaks are also spreading awareness through wall paintings, requesting the villagers not to step out of their homes.
Over 8,000 people in 90 villages of Madhya Pradesh, have received the info kits. These are of use to not just rural folk but also our field staff. Nisha Parnami, Senior Officer, Women Empowerment opines that despite the lockdown making it impossible to print these outputs, WhatsApp has emerged as a handy tool to reach communities.
It is also very important that we utilize online means of communication – social media like Facebook, Twitter etc. to properly guide and provide verified information in order to avoid panic among citizens. We have also been sharing our stories from the field as we fight this global pandemic. These stories of resilience can be viewed on our social media pages as well — on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN too.
To read a detailed report on WOTR’s activities against COVID-19, click here https://bit.ly/3bo6iSY