The COVID-19 is an unprecedented global disaster affecting the urban poor in myriad ways. The lockdown has resulted in loss of livelihoods creating a deep crisis of hunger and impoverishment. Interventions in M/East build on the groundwork done by the Transforming M Ward project (initiated in 2011), through the network of community organisations and government departments the project has been engaged with. We recognise that groups imagined to be at the fringes of the city, in fact form the mainstay, enabling cities to function. Hence the focus of COVID19 response aims to reduce the vulnerabilities and enhance the coping capacities of these groups.
M Ward is a convergence point for the interventions by TISS. Through the network of community leaders aligned with the Transforming M Ward Project, we are able to understand community needs. These leaders are front line relief workers assessing needs and helping with the ration distribution and monitoring of services. A summary of the initiatives being coordinated by the Transforming M Ward project, ranging from relief to advocacy, is given below. For more details, please refer to this note.
The extension of the lockdown, and the absence of appropriate entitlements means that even those households with some savings are now facing the pinch; lack of income means that several households are unable to even buy rations at the subsidised rates; many houses do not have fuel to cook food. State support in the form of rations is critical to address the growing hunger. There also needs to be better coordination in the distribution of relief.
Several migrant workers stay in informal settlements on rental basis or in small work cum stay places. In many cases, the contractors who had employed them have abandoned them. Several workers tried to leave for their home towns but were apprehended; in the process they lost money and are now stuck here. Many women are domestic workers and are now without wages. Many such households do not have ration cards.
As the pandemic intensifies, the anxiety in informal settlements is increasing. The preexisting poor health status, malnourishment, and other morbidities add to the vulnerability. There is an urgent need of clinics and a focused health education programme. All the steps in managing the pandemic from prevention to containment to home quarantine are challenging to operationalise and therefore communities need to be supported in their efforts.
Systematising food relief in order to plug gaps, and ensure that vulnerable groups are reached. The M ward project has prepared a protocol for distribution and would develop other safe and good practices around this area, which currently has a lot of noise through well-meaning but uncoordinated efforts.
Ramping up water and sanitation facilities through developing makeshift solutions in order to institute hand washing practice in the communities. This necessitates infrastructural interventions and nuanced policy advocacy.
Producing and enhancing accessibility of masks and sanitizers through supporting community-based enterprises to produce masks and sanitisers and make them available freely to people in the settlements. The plan is to produce about 4,00,000 masks.
Editorial Team: Amita Bhide, Anjali Monteiro, Janki Andharia
Editorial Support and Newsletter: Anusha Ramanathan
Content Editor: Aparna Srivastava
Content coordinators/contributors: Vijay Raghavan, Aparna Joshi, Nilesh Gawde, Aseem Prakash, Rajni Konanthambigi, Faiz Ullah, Asha Banu Soletti, Ratoola Kundu, Lalitha Kamath, Chetna Duggal, Jacquleen Joseph, Lavanya Arvind, Sabah Khan, Trupti Panchal, staff of M-Ward project, Prayas, Tanda, Koshish, Special cell, and all other interventions/Field Action Projects of TISS
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