The second wave of Covid-19 leaving many with No source of income
Digital Empowerment Foundation is continuing with DEFDialogues 2.0, a program that started last year during Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
The first episode of season 2 of DEFDialogue happened in conversation with Mohammad Arif. He works with Digital Empowerment Foundation as a Project Officer in the region of Mewat, Haryana. Arif talked about the health situation created due to the ongoing pandemic in the region of Mewat, Nuh in Haryana.
Arif pointed out that there is lack of awareness among people regarding Covid-19 virus which has resulted in rise of cases. As of (6 May 2021) there are 2186 Covid positive cases in Nuh with an average of 37 cases per day and a total of 1925 patients have been discharged from the hospital with an average of 27 patients. 2, 31, 466 testing samples have been collected in Mewat district and 44,495 people have come in contact with a Covid-19 positive person, with an average of 920 people.
The death average rounds up to 2 people, with a total of 37 deaths till now (6 May 2021). There are 203 people in home isolation and their average count is 35. The positivity rate is at 1.91% and the recovery rate is at 88.06%. The fatality rate in the Mewat is 1.69%. For the treatment of Covid-19 cases, Mewat Medical College has been turned into a Covid center.
Covid-19 management by local authorities:
Digital Empowerment Foundation through its chain of workers are constantly in touch with the local administration. Arif pointed out that they on behalf of DEF were working jointly with administration to get people in the age of 18-45 years registered for vaccinations as well get senior citizens to register for getting vaccination. Although Mewat Medical College has been declared as a Covid-19 center, still there is a dearth of medical facilities such as ventilators and oxygen at a large scale. He further said that, they constantly get phone calls or get to know about information through social media about the requirement of oxygen or other such sources.
Impact of Covid-19 on Community:
In Mewat as Arif narrated, urban areas have been more affected by the Covid-19, but subsequently the rural areas will get affected. The reason being that there is lack of awareness about the disease. Arif’s team along with the district administration plan to create awareness but he emphasized that a mass awareness drive is the need of the hour on administration’s behalf. But DEF has been carrying outs Covid awareness campaign as was done last year.
Migrant Crisis and Second Wave of Covid-19:
Since the time a full lockdown has been imposed in Haryana, big companies such as Maruti has stopped all their operations. Similarly, all the other business belts and industrial areas of Gurgaon, Rico have put a halt on their work. Unlike last year when people were migrating back through KMP Highway and DEF was helping them, this year there is no such movement of people on such large scale. But the lockdown will definitely have an effect on widows, destitute, transgender community, orphans and especially those who are daily wage earners.
Livelihood of people during pandemic
Arrangement of food rations, as Arif said is not the biggest concern as people in rural areas share their produce. More than food, there is a need of providing sanitizers, masks and creating awareness. While villagers do not face much difficulty in sourcing food rations, it is the migrants who face difficulty in finding a helping hand especially during lockdown. Arif added that, last year DEF in the entire region of Mewat, including Alwar, Palwal and Bharatpur provided Covid relief services
Driving is the most common source of livelihood in Mewat. There are more than 50,000 people directly working as drivers. Since the imposition of lockdown in states like Rajasthan, the movement of vehicles has been restricted and other states will follow the suit. If this happens this will impact not only these 50,000 people working in this field but every driver is accompanied with a conductor and a second driver and they number around 1, 50,000 in Mewat. This will not only them unemployed but this will have a ripple effect on the families. The average family size comprises of 5-7 people in Rajasthan and Haryana, so it is simple mathematics that around 10,50,000 people will be impacted, their livelihood will be impacted due to lockdown. This figure does not include those working in the private sector.
Previous year, companies with a turn-over of Rs. 3000 came to Rs. 300 due to the lockdown that was imposed. The situation will worsen and in such unprecedented times the government should provide every household with Rs. 5000-10,000 every month to keep their families afloat.
Talking about the situation created by the pandemic in Mewat, Arif said that he had recently visited Nuh, which is the district headquarters and is also a market town. The place was buzzing with people, no social distancing was being followed and people were roaming without proper masks. The situation is worse in rural areas, as people still are sitting in circles, smoking Hookah and playing cards. This indicated the need for much better awareness to secure the safety of communities. He added that people from villages should come to cities, to get themselves vaccinated.
Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Work in Mewat
Arif on behalf of DEF has written to the district administration seeking permission to create awareness on Covid-19 and help in registering people for vaccination. He added that if the permission is granted, they will cover the entire region of Mewat. They will use Covid-19 guidelines issued by the Government of India and further added that organizations working exclusively on health should work hand in hand with district administration as well as other non-governmental organizations and share the responsibility of creating awareness and safeguarding the health of citizens.