Covid-19 & Our response
Samata has been at the frontline to provide relief to the migrant laborers, vulnerable and marginalized people affected by the pandemic. With lockdowns in every state being slowly lifted, and the number of cases and deaths spiking, containing the virus has become even more critical. Samata has been tirelessly working on the ground to provide food, rations and hygiene kits to the poor, and also performing the important task of creating awareness about the virus and preventing its spread, educating people on social distancing, helping to combat the stigma, providing shelter and setting up community kitchens for those in need.
Considering the need of an hour, the immediate response in the first wave of the Covid-19 was the awareness. Samata created WhatsApp groups to reach to the tribal population across Andhra Pradesh to generate awareness about the Covid-19 and how to prevent it. Samata made pamphlets and posters to further educate people in the rural interior areas. Awareness pamphlets were circulated on the social media.
Distribution of the ration kits:
Samata followed the needs of those affected during the pandemic due to the loss of the work and other loss and catered to the basic needs of the poor and migrant families and distributed ration kits in following areas of Visakhapattanam, Andhra Pradesh.
Partner, alliance & network response:
Mines Minerals and People Network (mm&P) is spread at the grassroots and works in over 21 states that have large concentrations of tribal people. As Covid-19 disrupts urban economies it has a spillover effect on rural and tribal areas. In absence of jobs, shelter and food, some of these indigenous migrant workers had returned or were all set to return to their traditional areas. mm&P’s first priority was to ensure access to testing facilities closest to these communities. For this, they worked with regional government departments to prevent spread in first place and early detection of the virus. Many indigenous migrant workers are stranded in cities without adequate food. They dwell below the poverty line and are left to fend for themselves in dire times of crisis. More than 5000 people across India are being supported by the mm&P network by giving cooked food, ration and other nutritional support.
At the national level mm&P advocated for utilizing District Mining Foundation Fund (DMF) to safeguard mining affected communities in mining areas from the financial and livelihoods impact of Covid-19. The Construction Cess was also advocated for to provide relief to the construction workers who are rendered jobless. Upon persistent efforts government issued notification for the use of DMF fund in mining affected areas. However, the spending procedure on the ground was not very transparent. The funds were being diverted to non-mining affected areas were being used for other frivolous issues (for e.g., Procuring vehicles for police patrolling).
Representations have been sent to the state governments to provide for rehabilitation of the migrant workers and other vulnerable communities. mm&P members are on the frontline of identifying the vulnerable people and getting them in touch with the department helplines.
mm&P Network continued its efforts in advocating at the state and national level to devise specific rehabilitation plans for the indigenous and mining affected communities who will have lasting effect of Covid-19 and slowdown of economy.
In the second wave, Samata has continued its efforts and is conducting the Assessment in its project areas via the fellows and second drive for the ration kit distribution for the needy families is under process.