Dear Friends,

Digital Empowerment Foundation newsletters always bring to you inspiring stories and revolutionary work happening at the grassroots but amid the grim reality of the corona virus pandemic, the global social and economic structure has come to a standstill.

Even so we saw an unmistakable spark of leadership across all our 600+ centers. In fact our team on the ground inspired us to see the potential of our centers.

When we were still planning and stargazing, the ground staff was already prepared to help local communities. Our Digital Foot Soldiers, as we like to call them, have stitched masks, made hand sanitizers and distributed essential items like food to those in need.

While our ground staff and volunteers were constantly assisting people regarding various issues like availing government schemes, providing digital services and digital literacy, they further helped raise awareness about Covid-19, its precautions and tackled misinformation around the same.

The pandemic has pushed us into maintaining social distancing but the challenge is to remain hyper connected through the internet and isolate Covid-19 instead. This becomes a crucial time in building community relations and trust.

I would like to thank all our volunteers and staff spread across India for the selfless service they are providing to those in need during this difficult time.

Further, I would urge each and every one of you to taken the onus of verifying information before forwarding; maintaining absolute hygiene and social distancing and following all government advisory.

We stand together in this fight against Covid-19.

Stay safe
Stay home
Go Digital!

Osama Manzar,
Founder & Director
Digital Empowerment Foundation

Strengthening Community Resilience and Sustenance through Digital Intervention

Shivkumari, an Internet Saathi from Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, is currently producing 300 masks per day and is supplying it to the local hospitals. At the time of writing, she had received an order of 16,000 masks from a government hospital out of which she has delivered 2500. There are several others who are preparing a sanitiser making unit as well. This helped us in recognising the potential of the digital centers that are now being converted into manufacturing hubs for essential needs. Read More

Community Radio helps reach last mile
Radio is one of the most effective medium for first mile connectivity. The community radio in Wanaparthy at DEF’s digital center has been spreading awareness on Corona Virus. Awaaz Wanaparthy Radio is run by an all women team associated with Vanitha Jyothi Mahila Sangam. There digital center facilitates the station to carry out feedback mechanism by uploading their shows online. This helps them reach a wider audience and also help resolve quesries especially in times of the corona virus pandemic. Telangana State Agriculture minister also sent out a message through the station on Janata Curfew and appealed to stay home.
Curbing misinformation and fake news around Covid-19
An awareness program on Corona Virus was held at Kuruvimalai, Tamil Nadu, on March 14, 2020 under the Health pillar. Twenty Seven people were in attendance and was conducted by Roselin, the resource person for this program. The reason for conducting awareness camp was to ensure that correct information about corona virus is spread and to generate awareness about preventing health measures. Due to a lot of misinformation available on Social Media and the other platforms, the need for right information to reach the community is a must to prevent any kind of panic situation. Read More
Digital centers acts as relief hubs
The government announced that ration kits will be provided to daily wage laborers. To help speed up the process our co-ordinator Gurudev Singh in Alwar, Rajasthan, along with Ward councilor immediately conducted a survey to prepare a list of those who are in dire need of these benefits. He created a kit which includes 500gms cooking oil, 500gm lentils, 5kg wheat and 1 kg rice which is being distributed. Similarly, our co-ordintors in Haryana and Bihar have created a task force who have got permission from the district collector to help with community outreach, mobilisation & distribution of necessary items.
Digital services on the wheels
Under Digital Emergency Relief Program, Smartpur project team in Haryana, has been working tirelessly to provide basic essentials and government entitlements to all those in need because of the Covid-19 situation. During this time of lockdown the reach by the Smartpur team to the locals of the community, especially the target beneficiaries, is next to impossible. However, Smartpur Digital Service Delivery Van is doing the round in order to help those in need. They have been generating awareness in surrounding villages of the Mewat region by distributing masks not and also providing ration to the needy.
Smartpur against Corona
During this Corona Virus pandemic, our Smartpur Covid-19 Volunteers has been proactively working towards serving the community in the best possible way and ensuring safety of all sections of the society. Our centres in collaboration with the local government, has been supplying essential items to those in need. Under this country-wide lockdown, access to many services like financial assistance, bill payments, etc. have become limited. To cater to this, our volunteers are trying to make the access to information, entitlements and digital financial services easy through the100 Smartpur digital centers.
Virtual digital centers in time of lockdown
Rahul from Raybaka, Rajasthan, is a differently-abled person whose family sustains on pension. But due to the lockdown the banks are open for limited time so he was unable to withdraw money. He then called up our digital center co-ordinator Irfan and sort his help. He asked him not to worry and immediately went to Rahul’s home to provide him the pension through online banking. This inspired Irfan to initiate a process of ‘home-delivering banking services’ to help people of the surrounding villages. He provides door-to-door facility of offering digital services so that the people do not have to step-out.
Internet Saathis stitch masks to meet the immediate demand
With new cases reported every day, corona virus has disrupted the people’s life globally. The pandemic has had a major effect on the entire social and economic structure of the society. In India, limited healthcare resources like covid-kits, medicines, masks, PPEs among others is one of the major issues. But amid the ongoing healthcare crisis, community members are rising to the occasion and are supporting each other and the hospitals. Internet Saathi Shivkumari Kushwha from Rewa district, Madhya Pradesh, along with her team, is stitching masks for her community members and hospitals. Read More
Online trainings amid lockdown
In just one month of being rolled out, the CSC Academy and Facebook initiative Digital Beti has been a wonderful learning process. One of our trainers, Madhurendra Kumar from Bihar submitted reports on the successful online trainings in the Nalanda block. Even with multitude of issues faced during these trainings, the Master Trainers did not lose hope. Due to COVID-19, the trainings in the three states Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu were put on hold as the Government announced ban on mass gatherings and eventually the lockdown. Post the announcement, our Trainers resorted to taking individual online trainings.
Samarth SoochnaPreneurs initiate door-to-door digital services
Kalu Ram Sen, a differently-abled person from Guna, Madhya Pradesh has been providing immediate relief to his community in the time of the corona virus pandemic. He is ensuring food for the vulnerable and generating preventive health awareness. 100 other such Samarth SoochnaPreneurs (Differently-abled Information entrepreneurs) across 100 locations in India have been putting effort to do the same with the support from Equally Able Foundation and Digital Empowerment Foundation. There physical limitations are not stopping them from giving door-to-door deliverance of essential items, digital services and ensuring government entitlements to those in need.
SoochnaPreneur helps government to extend its schemes
DEF’s Covid-19 Digital Emergency Relief Program which will aid in public schemes, information dissemination, entitlement facilitation and its delivery apart from providing essential items like ration and medicines . One of our SoochnaPreneurs in Jharkhand has collaborated with the local authorities to distribute cooked food to children and the elderly under "Didi Kitchen Yojna" of Jharkhand government. The SoochnaPreneur is also a self-help group member who has been roped in to carry out this work at village level. This has also helped the women of the group to have an alternate livelihood in times of the corona virus pandemic.
Artisan clusters converted to manufacturing hub for masks
Under Digital Cluster Development Program (DCDP) keeping in mind the pandemic, our local team has started working on spreading awareness on corona virus and simultaneously meeting the need of masks. In this regard DCDP Barpali first started it with 15 community members by providing raw materials and wages. Till now they have produced more than 5000 masks and distributing it to community members for free or at minimal cost. Now, local health centres, medical shops and municipality are reaching out to them to supply the same. Similarly model is replicated in Nuaptna and Musiri clusters.
Immediate relief to migrant workers
The adverse and wholesome impact of Covid-19 is yet to be measured, in this entire catastrophic scenario, the poor, vulnerable, low social and low income groups and informal sectors in India are the worst affected in multitude ways. With reverse migration of workers from cities, this has added to the challenge. Jan Sahas, a non-profit organisation, is ensuring the safety of those who have supported us in our day-to-day activities by tracking who are then identified. With the help of the local authorities and non-profits then they are provided immediate help in terms of food, shelter and health services.
Roti, Kapda, Makan or Internet?
Roti, Kapda, Makan (trans. Food, Clothing, and Shelter) has been the refrain resonating throughout India’s tryst with social and economic development from Independence until the present times. These basic needs characterize the modalities of survival and their acquisition signals a foot out of the threshold of poverty. Today, despite significant progressive steps towards social and economic development India still suffers from pervasive income inequality – currently undergirded by connectivity, access to internet, and digital devices. This is because the architecture of governance and public service delivery has come to depend on digital infrastructures. Read More

Digital Emergency Relief Program - An Initiative of DEF

Defeat Coronavirus—Song by Folk Musician, Yusuf Khan

Covid-19 Crisis—SoochnaPreneur Gurudev Singh Helps Communities in Alwar

Understanding Gravity of Coronavirus Pandemic in India?
Abusaleh Shariff
US-India Policy Institute
Washington D. C and Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy
New Delhi
It is about a month that the onset of Coronavirus or Covid-19 in India has become prominent. Described a rudimentary virus like any other normal cold, fever and chest congestion; its spread can be so fast and certain that the causalities both as sufferers and deaths can reach a very high proportion. Some projections suggest upto 30 per cent of the world’s population will get infected and with huge fatalities which are not quantified. So far Italy has recorded highest fatality rate of 10 per cent of those tested positive followed by Iran-7 percent. Read More
Covid-19 Digital Foot Soldiers

ProtoVillage based in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, is the prototype of an abundant rural community that is being built for and by the villagers themselves. The village is wi-fi enabled through partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation. And sustainable wireless ecosystem is being used to develop entrepreneurial mindset in villages. The ProtoVillage has set up hand sanitiser unit made with Aloe Vera and are producing masks. These are being distributed to the frontline health workers, police officers and locals from surrounding villages among others. They are also distributing essential kit of food items to the vulnerable. Read More

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Digital Empowerment Foundation aims to connect unreached and underserved communities of India to bring them out of digital darkness and empower them with information access through last mile connectivity, digital literacy and digital interventions. Established in 2002, with the motto to ‘Inform, Communicate and Empower,’ DEF aims to find sustainable ICT solutions to overcome information poverty in rural locations of India.

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