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As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

Making tribals aware of precautions during corona virus 
By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.
While lockdown continues to keep everyone inside their homes, apprehension is on the rise as in how many are still there with the deadly infection who yet to be detected. India has a larger concern to worry about. Its population size and density vis-a-vis the level of general awareness, preparedness and facilities available to treat an ailing section just does not matchup. There are only 40,000 ventilators for a 1.3 billion population!
Rural India is thankfully still not much affected by this outbreak. But that is no reason to relax. We are at a crucial juncture to organise millions of villagers of the subcontinent. One of the biggest challenges in remote rural areas, apart from inadequate corona virus healthcare facilities at their doorsteps, is their lack of awareness about the pandemic and what all measures are essential to keep one safe and secure in this situation.
At the same time, it is from the rural areas that most of India’s daily wage earners and labours migrate to urban areas. At this time of crisis, when these labourers will start moving back to their own villages, it might so happen that some of them will carry the virulent disease in their bodies.
A huge population that had hitherto remained unaffected by the virus will soon start falling ill, taking the number of infected individuals to several thousands in India and COVID19 will become a ‘community threat’. Death toll may rise in geometric progression despite the best of efforts from all sections of the society. So their vulnerability is bigger than any time in the past.
COVID19 is an uncertain and seemingly long-drawn battle with an enemy unseen. And the challenges increase manifold when it comes to rural communities. Some of the glaring challenges that can be perceived at the communities’ level are as per the following:
  • In most of the villages water resource is rarely available in abundance. And in most of the cases, people use the same well or tube well or small pond. Ponds and wells mean stagnant water. Situation may worsen further if contaminated water is consumed, and not used without adequate purification.
  • Now when the emigrants are coming back to their own villages from COVID19 affected urban bases, they will also use the same water bodies, touch the same tube-well handle! How does one stop the pandemic assume a community threat? 
  • Social distancing is an alien concept: If there is an illness in the vicinity, everyone flocks around and takes responsibility of treatment, carrying the patient to the health centres etc. 
  • Providing for basic ration and other consumables at their doorstep during a long lockdown phase that may continue for an indefinite period for the daily wage earning ultra-poor section of the society. 
Various state governments along with the Central government are taking measures to improve the block and district level health centres and reduce financial woes of the MGNREGA job-card holders.
But, it is time for the civil society organisations, working in some of the most remote and poor areas of the country, to adopt a larger role at this critical moment and provide the required support to the communities, and the government, to combat the pandemic. They have the expertise and experience to help design practical and contextual solutions for most of the problems in rural areas.
Panchayat quarantine in Basia block, Gumla district, Jharkhand
PRADAN, a national NGO, working in about 9,000 villages of 37 of the poorest districts across seven states in India has an outreach of 850,000 families through 71,000 self help groups (SHGs), has employed a whole pool of educated professionals at the community levels since the past 37 years. Almost 70% of its community members belong to Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste categories.
Since times immemorial, they have been suffering from abject poverty, illiteracy, ill-health and exclusion since generations. PRADAN professionals have developed deep rapport with these disadvantaged communities and have facilitated transformation of millions of lives through promotion of livelihoods, natural resource management, entrepreneurship promotion, improving local governance, gender equality and various other well-being initiatives.
However, needless to say, the same population is now extremely vulnerable to suffer from COVID19 as they lack the required awareness, resources and all sorts of support mechanisms to combat the disease. In fact, with whatever sources of information they have, the possibilities of getting affected by rumours and fake news on the disease are extremely high.
Therefore, the PRADAN staff, working directly with these marginalised small-farm holders, have assumed the responsibility to spread awareness among the communities and provide them the much required handholding support on certain major aspects of hygiene and safe practices. It is worth mentioning here that this engagement is beyond their committed project deliverables.
Women leaders learned how to prepare and use masks made with tissue papers and rubber-bands, and making of sanitizers with fermented Mahuwa flowers
Our teams in Jharkhand started an awareness drive on March 16, in collaboration with the SHG led federation of women in Pathargama block. The awareness camp focussed on specifics of maintaining hygiene in their everyday lives, mainly highlighting the need for frequent hand-wash and avoiding touching nose or mouth unnecessarily.
In fact, their unanimous decision to postpone their annual congregation called Mahadhiveshan, scheduled for March 17, for an indefinite period is appreciable in the light of the community practicing social distancing.
A rural workshop in Bihar by Chakai team
Likewise, an awareness generation and preventive measures programme was organised by our Chakai team in Bihar, where the members from Jeevan Marshal Mahila Sangh, a block level federation in Chakai block geared-up to fight against COVID19.
Women’s federation leaders learned how to prepare and use masks made with tissue papers and rubber-bands, and making of sanitizers with fermented Mahuwa flowers – a resource available in abundance in their villages. Its high alcohol content is being capitalised for making sanitizer. Akasia fruits are being used for cleaning hands – as a natural alternative to soap/hand-wash.
In fact, the initiative of making washable and reusable masks, with specific quality checks and supplying them to government departments is one step beyond just keeping the communities abreast of best practices for a safe and healthy living.
Through this initiative, we are trying to create a parallel line of supply of this crucial safety equipment. Apart from Bihar, the teams in Nagri of Chhattisgarh have also arranged similar programmes for the SHG members. Women are making the masks and supplying them to the local banks, panchayat offices and several other government offices.
PRADAN teams have also created IEC materials for disseminating correct information among the communities, so that the spectre does not acquire a more horrifying magnitude by rumors and fake news. Our team of development professionals in Gumla, Palkot, and Mayurbhanj have joined hands with local health departments to co-create Information, Education and Communication materials.
In fact, every Panchayat Hall is being converted into a quarantine facility at Basia block in Gumla district of Jharkhand. If the need arises, school halls will be also used for this purpose. Khichdi will be made available to the patients. In fact this is now becoming the model for many remote rural areas in other states too.
Along with panchayat and block administration, PRADAN is preparing the status of ration distribution in Basia. A WhatsApp group, including all the administrative bodies and PRADAN professionals, has been created for a seamless coordination of the entire task.
PRADAN partners communities in good and bad times both. And communities see PRADAN as partners in both good times and bad. And like PRADAN, there are many other grassroots NGOs who are well placed to play a role in managing such crises given their long-standing, deep rooted relationship with the communities.
Most of the PRADAN staff and the community based local service providers have been advised to work from home, but spreading the right messages using the latest information and communication technology is always key in controlling the spread of COVID19 in remote rural pockets. If being together is no more encouraged during the COVID19 times, it’s only together, with our collective zeal, that we can counter the threat. Because #TogetherWeCan!
---
*PRADAN, New Delhi

Comments

Anonymous said…
The worst is that we are not using high dose Vitamin C which has long history of being amazing.


RIGHT NOW IN SHANGHAI Regional govt has officially authorised Vit C for use. They have used what I think from reading below is a lowsih, 10-20gr/day if IV Vit C. No one in the Vit C group died and they were out of hospital in 3-5 days instead of 30 days without. Covid and much more solved. lets get back to normal. But we




They should keep on using it for ever thing.




The RDA of 45-100 mg /day useless and maybe criminal. I have taken 30 grams of time release vit c for a flue and it flattened it. Vit C is non toxic, listen to the doctors below not me




See orthomolecular dot org and their news tab.

orthomolecular.org


Book mark this as they have lots of study info on Vit c there.




Look up




Dr Frederick Klenner ( reversed polio in 60 patients in 1949),plus much more

Dr Thomas Levy USA cardiologist, amazing books plus 20+ talks on youtube. site is peakenergy

Dr Robert Cathcart treated 30000 patients with does sometimes over 200 grams a day. There are two playlists with 870+ talks by him on youtube




Dr Suzanne Humpries on Youtube search Vitamin C basics




The university of Otago Dr Margaret Visser did a fantastic talk on Vit C in 2014, but I don't think they accessed the above, but the findings are wow.




Look at Andrews Sauls "that vitamin movie" and his web page doctoryourself




Look up studies Zabet 2016 and sepsis and Fowler 2014 with sepsis in the search. Fowler Slide 5 show sick people are all low in vit C so why don't they give you a drip when you go in for all things




sepsis liked 8 million, imagine when you see these studies with lowish amount cutting that maybe in 1/2




Klenner used to have his nurse give you a vit IV before he saw you, as maybe the problem went with that.




Dr Cathcart said if I ran hospital I would give people Vit C first and work on the rest.

Covid and the Chinese use , plus these people with 80 years of info show we can take our health back and at far lower the cost .




This is very important for self determination of developing countries. You could be much healthier and not could save heaps on health import costs. The doctor in Shanghai has used vit C for over 10 years.




If you think there is merit in your searches and the links you find please send them far and wide
Mr Frudo said…
kn95 mask exporter shall help these countries
james john said…
Thanks for a wonderful share.Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field.Brilliant.
deep cleaning coronavirus
Gane said…
Yes, well said. Sanitizers are the real way to get protected by deadly viruses. Thanks for sharing this valuable content in here.

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