February 6, 2021
COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown – one of the many steps taken to contain the spread of the disease in India – has had detrimental effects throughout the country. But those most affected are from the already marginalized communities. As almost all economic activity came to a halt, they lost their livelihoods, resulting in physical and emotional stress and putting their families on the verge of starvation. Lack of transportation affected access to medical services too, proving particularly threatening to people living with HIV (PLHIV) who depend on ART drugs. Immediate relief was necessary in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 for these vulnerable communities.
As a #COVIDActionCollab (CAC) initiative, our partner Swasti sought the support of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd and proposed plans to provide immediate relief through supply of food, hygiene kits and other essential supplies. Godrej supported the initiative with financial assistance to the tune of INR 1 crore, providing relief to 8390 families and 827 frontline workers in 20 districts of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry in October 2020.
Sex workers, PLHIV, transgenders, small and marginal farmers, fisherfolk, persons with disabilities, tribals and factory workers were the communities identified as the most in need of urgent support. These communities were reached through 45 community-based organizations (CBOs) and NGOs, 22 of which are CAC partners.
The distribution of materials commenced on October 20th 2020 after Swasti’s staff identified a local vendor in each of the four regions and conducted random quality assurance checks before packaging. The distribution events saw participation from various stakeholders, including local government officials.
The following materials were distributed:
Food and essentials
PPE to staff
For people from the vulnerable communities, who had lost their livelihoods and were struggling to make ends meet, this help from Godrej and Swasti came as a great relief.
Sumathi from Tholampalayam in Coimbatore is from the tribal community, who received the relief materials through Native Medicare Charitable Trust, a CAC partner which works with the tribal community. “We do business by collecting forest produce. Due to COVID-19 we lost our livelihoods and job opportunities. We even struggled for our daily food. We are grateful to Godrej, Swasti and NMCT for having provided groceries for 1 month during this situation,” Sumati said.
“We were jobless for the last 8 months. Although relaxations of curfew have started and we resumed going for work, we were still facing hardships. That’s when help came from Godrej and Swasti,” said Shakila Banu from Uthamapalayam in Theni district.
Helen, a transgender woman from Salem district who depends on begging for her livelihood was left with no income during the lockdown. “I was struggling for my daily food. In this situation, Godrej provided 10Kgs of rice and other groceries which helped me get through the period,” she said.
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COVIDActionCollab is not merely an aggregation of partners, but is an aggregation of capacities, through which we have developed key high impact initiatives. We have drawn upon our one year’s experience at CAC and engagement with our large constituency of partners to put together a menu of initiatives for funders/investors to support which will save lives and livelihoods, and enable vulnerable communities to 'bounce forward’. Support these initiatives to build resilient communities