An update on Together We Can: Spread Love not Corona and associated efforts
India’s COVID-19 count has now crossed 6,000 and Maharashtra has the largest number of cases at 1,385. As India’s 21-day lockdown continues and is likely to even be extended in many places given the increasing spread of the infection, vulnerabilites among the urban poor are continuing to grow. With a majority of these households engaged in informal livelihoods, lakhs of people are out of jobs already and their meagre savings are quickly dwindling, making them unable to procure basic food (to start with). While some migrant workers have managed to make it home, a sizeable number are stuck in economic centres across the county, now unable to earn and therefore without access to food. The need to address people’s hunger and basic needs (access to water, basic hygiene and sanitation) is as crucial as containing the virus.
Today marks three weeks since we began our emergency relief initiatives for the urban poor. To catch up on what we have been able to do so far, please check 1, 2 and 3. The initiative has been expanding to address associated emerging needs as well (more on this below).
This blog presents a summary of our efforts over the last week (many of these are supported by multiple partners), and how we plan to take the initiatives ahead.
Looking back on the week
- Our emergency relief efforts have now reached 6,146 urban poor households (30,730 people in total). When we started the relief efforts we had provided weekly ration kits. However, given the long-term nature of the crisis we have now begun the distribution of monthly rations. Each relief kit contains rice, wheat, pulses, cooking oil, salt, soap, etc. and costs approximately Rs 2,000. 821 of 6,146 kits have been provided with the support of partners Aajeevika Bureau, Save the Children India, Curry Stone Foundation, Jeevan Bachao Andolan, (Mahul), Prayas, and Citizens for Justice and Peace who have identified families and distributed the relief.
- In partnership with Blue Sea Catering and Banquets we are also providing cooked meals on a daily basis to various parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
- Cooked meals are being provided to the Mumbai Police force and staff in government hospitals — frontline heroes who are working round-the-clock to address the COVID crisis and who we aim to support by ensuring they have access to quality and nutritious food. Every day more than 9,000 meals (lunch and dinner) are sent to various hospitals and police stations. So far, we have delivered 65,000+ meals.
- Cooked meals are being provided to migrant workers and their families living on construction sites in Navi Mumbai. A total of 8,000 meals (lunch and dinner) are provided daily. 40,000 meals have been provided so far.
Glad to be partnering with @anishgawande & team to provide relief for migrants in Bhiwandi. Fantastic journalism by @sukanyashantha of @thewire_in who reached out after visiting powerloom workers last week. Various groups came together to ensure food reaches them immediately! https://t.co/kuUqbyGYkg
— YUVA (@OfficialYUVA) April 7, 2020
3. Cooked meals are being sent to powerloom workers stuck in Bhiwandi (Thane). We started by offering 3,000 meals daily (lunch and dinner) for 1,500 migrant workers and families, and this has now increased to 8,000 meals daily. We have provided 12,000 meals in total so far. This initiative was spurred by journalist Sukanya Shantha of The Wire reaching out to us after her visit to the powerlooms one evening. With insightful reporting on this crisis, like-minded individuals and organisations quickly setup and have taken forward this initiative. This initiative is in collaboration with Anish Gawande of Youth Feed India and the local Powerloom Sangharsh Samiti.
- We have also partnered with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), helping address calls for migrant labour in distress through the provision of rations in the F-North and South wards in Mumbai.
- We have received 150+ calls from migrants in distress across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and beyond. We have seen a spike in these calls over the past 10 days, as people run out of existing stocks and savings. We have a small team dedicatedly looking into these requests, which are either resolved by the YUVA team or passed on to other supportive networks that can help. So far we have been able to address about 40 requests, and are planning the others.
- YUVA Urban Initiatives is a partner of Childline India Foundation and addresses calls received on the the 1098 emergency helpline for children in distress across select areas. In the past few days, the helpline has seen the nature of calls transform, receiving 70+ calls for access to food for children and has connected these requests to local partners who can help.
- Our teams in other cities are also furthering relief efforts by working with local partners.
- In Nashik, the YUVA team and members of youth collective Anubhav Shiksha Kendra have been distributing food to vulnerable families in different areas.
- In Nagpur, the team has been supporting the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) by providing the names of households in need across informal settlements where we work (such as in Kalamna basti, Nagraj Nagar, Pili Nadi, and so on). The NMC has reached out with the provision of cooked meals (lunch and dinner daily) for these households. YUVA and Shehar Vikas Manch, a city development forum, have also been supporting the Collector’s efforts in checking how well ration shops are operating in North Nagpur.
- In Guwahati, we are supporting the food distribution drive led by Patadik Nari Samaaj (a women’s collective) and SPU personnel, Assam police. The team has identified families in need and already reached out to Bhutnath area, Uzan Bazaar, and Nabajyoti Nagar and Kailashpur in Amsing (total 300 households) with daily rations.
Our work highlighted on the #InspireIndia series and across media
— Mirror Now (@MirrorNow) April 7, 2020
Our efforts towards emergency relief and long-term rehabiliation were also covered by Mirror Now on their Inspire India segment on 7 April. Click on the tweets alongside to catch a short segment of the session and the main talking points of our Executive Director Roshni Nuggehalli, who also highlighted how the city’s growing spirit of volunteerism has made it possible to reach out in such a wholehearted way to support households in distress.
YUVA has been working with vulnerable communities across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and beyond for 35+ years. (1/n) pic.twitter.com/SKDyMZ1siA
— YUVA (@OfficialYUVA) April 7, 2020
Our emergency relief efforts continue as we plan and strategise more on how this crisis can be addressed in the long-term and what could be effective rehabilitation measures taken, in partnership with communities and authorities. We need comprehensive intervention strategies for every ward, taking into account multiple needs and facets such as adequate health and hygiene of communities, ways to sustain the informal economy and measures to revive it, planning and implementing mobile services (for healthcare, ration facilitation etc) so people can continue to stay home.
Our fundraising initiatives continue on Milaap m-lp.co/yuva1 and Ketto https://bit.ly/SpreadLoveNotCorona and we will continue to use this support on the above-mentioned initiatives. We are also continuing advocacy efforts with the government, at the municipal, state and central level, to demand better welfare and protection of vulnerable groups, and are in touch with government representatives and other non-profits to ensure that relief overlaps are minimised. For now we are continuing with relief efforts as mentioned, as most government initiatives are only being rolled out in phases and will be operational from mid April.
A note of thanks
The support of multiple partners, well-wishers, networks, organisations, administrative authorities (the MCGM, NMMC, Civil Defense Department, Maharashtra) and countless others, have helped us continue and strengthen our work. We would like to thank each one of them.
We would also like to thank K-Star Banquets, Juveca Panda, Moneylife Foundation, Vaibhav Modi of Victor Tango Productions, Zomato Feeding India, Swiggy, Mahindra Foundation, Brittania Industries, Indiabulls, Reliance Foundation, and Essar Foundation for supporting with essential supplies, and many others who have reached out to us to support in different ways. A big thank you to all our volunteers supporting every phase of the relief work, from supply management to distribution and more. We hope to do more in the coming days.