Hi there, this is Yuka Tayanagi, ACE's India Project Manager. I wanted to give everyone an update on the current situation in our community projects, in a country particularly hard-hit by the outbreak of the Corona virus.
As of August 17th, there were 2,640,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and number of deaths has exceeded 50,000. There is a lot of fear that infections will continue to spread to more local villages.
We obviously have not been able to visit the project areas in the last six months, but we have been in constant communication with our experienced local NGO partners, SPEED. This is what they have to say.
Where is the government support?
In the villages of Telangana State where we carry out our projects, an increasing number of daily labourers have lost their entire income since the lockdown imposed in March. While the government has been providing rice and benefit packages, people must provide ID, bank account details and mobile numbers to be eligible to receive such support - these are things that the most vulnerable tend not to have.
We are providing ration kits to those who cannot get support elsewhere, specifically to 53 families in our PEACE India comm
unities. The kits include the essentials for the local daily diet: rice, oil, lentils, tamarind, turmeric, salt, onion, garlic.
One of the families who received the ration kit had both parents lose their day job due to the pandemic and were struggling to provide food for their family of four, including their two children. When speaking with SPEED staff, they described their relief to just have food to eat.
Children are feeling the impact too. Since the lockdown imposed in March, children have no idea when they will be returning to school as re-opening dates keeps getting pushed back. Despite recent activities to eliminate child labour, many children have been going to the cotton fields with their parents, and some fear that when schools finally do re-open, their parents will not be able to afford to send them back.
As our bridge school is also still not permitted to re-open due to infection spread prevention measures, staff have been visiting children at home, checking in with them and supporting them with their self-study. However, the children are very much keen to be able to study together and play with their friends again.
Doing as much as we can, within our limits
Since March, many of our activities including our site visits and training sessions such as our empowerment training for girls who are over co
mpulsory education age have been postponed. SPEED staff are on the ground, speaking with community members to understand what their most urgent needs are and how we can best support them in this time of real and immediate crisis.