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Helping India’s Most Vulnerable During Lockdown

Women queue for sanitary kits in India

In many of the countries where All We Can works, the challenges arising from Covid-19 extend far beyond the risks posed by the virus – lockdown itself is causing severe economic challenges for those living in some of the world’s poorest communities.

This is especially true for India. The country has a large population of internal migrant workers, whose income is reliant on day-to-day wage labour. In India, all businesses apart from essential services are on lockdown were placed into a strict lockdown from 25 March, leaving these already vulnerable labourers without a wage for nearly two months.

The migratory nature of India’s workforce resulted in many workers attempting to return to their hometown and villages when the lockdown was announced. But due to the almost immediate shutdown of most public transport on 25 March, migrant workers were forced to either travel hundreds of kilometres on foot, or remain stranded in cities far away from their homes in cramped, unsanitary conditions where the virus could spread quickly. Alongside the struggle of being unable to work, the return of migrant workers to their home communities has posed a number of challenges.  Often, these workers, reliant on daily wages, do not have a financial safety net and are increasingly struggling to feed their families. The home communities of migrant workers rely on remittances, meaning they face an even larger financial struggle than usual due to the lack of work for labourers.

There are concerns in these areas as high levels of poverty, low literacy levels and migratory nature of many communities put these vulnerable, rural villages at particular risk due to Covid-19. As migrating family members return home it is even more critical that communities are made aware of the need to self-isolate, follow good hygiene practices – and that they have the resources to do this.

The government has produced virus prevention awareness materials and food assistance programs. However, there are concerns these may not reach the vulnerable rural communities that desperately need them. All We Can’s partners in India, who are used to face-to-face community work, are now trying to adapt to new ways of operating and ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to the resources they vitally need.

A truck equipped with loudspeaker delivers Covid-19 awareness information

A truck equipped with loudspeaker delivers Covid-19 awareness information in rural Odisha.

One of All We Can’s local partners in India has already begun delivering essential information to communities via loudspeaker – sharing the message of good hygiene practise with over 22,000 community members in 90 rural villages in Odisha state. They are also working to deliver vital sanitary supplies including soap, antibacterial spray, and reusable face masks to 2000 vulnerable families at risk of contracting the virus.

Another of All We Can’s local partners in India is distributing emergency food supplies to last a month for 100 families – a necessity as the most vulnerable and marginalised face increasing challenges in accessing and affording the most basic of necessities. These vital measures are helping prepare at-risk communities as best they can to stand strong in the face of Coronavirus.

Your generosity, through the Emergency Coronavirus Appeal, is helping to support vulnerable communities across the globe. Please help us continue to reach those most in need during this difficult time – give now. If you’re interested in learning more about how All We Can is supporting communities in India at this time, join us on Facebook at 1.17pm on Wednesday 20 May, where we’ll be hearing from one of our local partners about their work.

About the Author Roxanne Bainbridge

Roxanne Bainbridge is working for All We Can as its Communications Officer as part of a year-long internship with the Methodist Church. Having studied a Master's degree in Education and Community Practice, she is passionate about empowering and educating communities to stand together against inequality and injustice. Roxanne grew up in North Wales and splits her time between Cardiff and London, as she loves and misses the Welsh spirit.

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