Covid-19 DEF Dialogue: Productive steps towards community support and sustenance

Lockdown has changed the way we interact with each other. The existing Digital infrastructure is acting as a crutch for the current economy and society. DEF keeping in mind the current situation is interacting with people in 600 locations across 25 states to analyse the current scenario equally across the country. These interviews are being recorded and are known as COVID-19 DEF Dialogues. With Osama Manzar, the Founder and Director of DEF as the host, these interviews focus on the Digital Foot Soldiers of DEF and what problems their respective communities facing. Read More

DEF Weekly Digest of Digital Warriors fighting Covid-19

DEF’s Covid-19 Relief Warriors are working tirelessly across backward and rural areas to help build community engagement, trust and provide aid. A team of 10,000+, they provide food relief kits, access to information on government schemes, banking and digital services, across 600 locations. They further help raise awareness about Covid-19, enable women entrepreneurs and distribute masks, hand sanitizers and tackle misinformation and fake news. With an aim to commemorate their relentless work, DEF launched a weekly Covid-19 Newsletter. It will bring to you stories of community reach and impact made by our Relief Warriors.

Covid-19 relief by mapping and identifying
Smartpur’s Bhimapur team in Uttar Pradesh worked on identifying pockets and mapping the areas to find families and individuals who do not have ration cards and are in urgent need. With the help of the local administration, they prepared a kit which included dry ration to help the families sustain for at least a month along with masks, sanitisers and leaflets with measures for preventive healthcare to avoid corona virus. Further, they also surveyed to identify people who are either not linked with any government entitlement or have not received the benefit yet to provide the same.
Digital interventions in time of crisis
The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Andhra Pradesh have reached 1097 and in Prakasam district it has risen to 50. Though the state government is working towards allowing the functioning of the industrial units, the daily wage earners are still struggling to get basic essential items such as vegetables, masks, hand-wash soaps etc. due to no income. Our Smartpur Chirala team led by Project Officer Sunil Babu; Centre Coordinator Srinivas and Spoke Coordinator Koteshwar Rao through various local WhatsApp groups acted as digital warriors and distributed vegetables to around 300 families at Ambedkar Nagar in Thotavaripalem, Chirala Mandal. Read More
Enabling tele-health and tele-medicine
Due to the lockdown, people are not able to visit doctors or health clinics for non-Emergency/Preventive healthcare. Our healthpreneur (Health Entrepreneur) at Smartpur centers with DocOnline, a doctor consultations platform available in multiple languages, are facilitating in conducting basic tests and doctor consultations through video/tele-calling. Further, Aarogya Setu, a government app to spread awareness and to connect essential health services, has close to 350 downloads till date in all Smartpur locations and are regularly updated. The Smartpur centers, in times of Covid-19, have emerged as an alternative to cater to the financial, educational, health and governance requirements of the community.
Extending e-Governance to farmers
Due to COVID-19 a new rule has been introduced for the farming sector. Now, in order to sell the crops farmers have to first register on the government portal, followed by obtaining a pass which is provided by the CSCs where our Smartpur Nuh team played an important role. The coordinators with CSC licence, in association with the district administration, not only verified their passes but also equipped them with masks and sanitizers to maintain proper hygiene. Also an appeal was made to the farmers to keep an eye for any misinformation and immediately report it to the local authority.
Governance services at doorstep
Under the central government’s Covid-19 Relief package, women beneficiaries who have Jan Dhan account received Rs 500/- each. The Bhimapar Hub Centre in Ghazipur with the help of their banking correspondent- Prashant Yadav, went door-to-door to provide this amount through micro-ATM device and ensured that the beneficiaries follow social distancing and do not have to step out of their houses to stand in long queues at the bank. Our digital warriors like Yadav are helping us fight this pandemic situation through their digital solutions and reaching out to the vulnerable.
Smartpur’s e-learning caters to educational requirement
With the onset of the lockdown due to Covid-19, one of the most important classes which use to take place regularly and were the source of income for all the ITpreneurs under Smartpur project was Digital Literacy. Soon they initiated e-learning through portals such as Zoom and Google First such class was conducted by Santosh Upadhyay, IT trainer of Karaiya centre for around 16 students. All the Centre Coordinators were also present to monitor the session along with other IT trainers from different centres. As a result, these became an alternative to cater to the educational requirements of the community.
GOAL: Be the change you want to see
What would you do if someone in the current situation came to your home without a mask? Will you ask them to leave immediately? Our GOAL mentee Subhadra from Nuapatna in Odisha faced this situation. Her milk supplier, a middle-aged woman came early in the morning like she does every day to deliver the milk, but she was not wearing a mask. So, Subhadra first helped her sanitize her hands and the container with milk. Then she brought one of her handmade masks and helped the woman to put it on. She also told the woman why wearing the mask is important.
Online digital entrepreneurship programme for women
Lockdown has not deterred our women entrepreneurs in rural India from exploring and connecting with the digital world to upskill and they are aware of how it will enhance their livelihood opportunities especially in the times of crisis. Commonwealth of Learning in collaboration with Digital Empowerment Foundation is conducting online trainings for 5000 rural women entrepreneurs across India on topics like financial literacy, livelihood opportunities in distress situations, Health and hygiene and e- governance among others. A curriculum has been specially designed to facilitate the trainers in these online classes. The first phase of the trainings have already started.
Relief Warrior Nutan forwards a helping hand for community sustenance
The Internet Saathi team is committed to provide relief resources and opportunities to all its beneficiaries amid the ongoing pandemic. With the belief that war against Covid-19 can be only won with awareness, empathy and coordination among communities, collective engagement becomes paramount. Nutan Kumari, an Internet Saathhi and DEF’s Covid-19 Relief Warrior from Bhagwanpur, Bihar, took up the task of spreading awareness and preventive measures of the disease. Proficient in tailoring, she also stepped up to the responsibility of stitching masks for distribution to every member in her village. Read More
STEM e-Learning: Transition from blackboards to screens in rural India
The marginalised population are finding it difficult to keep up with the sudden shift to digitisation due to the Covid-19 crisis as they are deprived of proper infrastructure. DEF, through its efforts, is preparing the younger generation to fit in a technological advanced world. STEM for Girls (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a school based programme focused on life skills, career guidance, digital literacy and coding skills. After the country-wide lockdown these classes could not be carried out. So we at DEF initiated e-learning by conducting classes every day for an hour... Read More
Banking services at doorstep to maintain social distancing
Abhinav Pandya is a SoochnaPreneur (Information Entrepreneur) from Guna, Madhya Pradesh. He has been working on the ground to ensure the community’s safety from the corona virus by delivering money to their homes from the schemes that the government has put in place for them. Many of them, whom Abhinav is helping, didn’t even know that such schemes existed; he informs them of their entitlements and helps them avail the same online. By providing banking services at doorstep, he is helping the villagers practice social distancing, the most important requirement to stop the spread of the virus. Read More
SoochnaPreneur comes to the rescue of Anganwadi
Due to the lockdown, the anganwadi center in Barmer, Rajasthan, was closed. When DEF’s coordinator Shakti Singh came to know that the food grains were not distributed he confronted the anganwadi workers. They did not agree and said that no such order came from the supervisor. Equipped with his smartphone and internet, Shakti Singh showed them the order and helped the workers in distributing the grains at door-step to the women of the community. Seeing this, the other anganwadi workers in the neighbouring areas took the copy of the order from him and resumed the distribution of the grains.
Chanderi Handloom cluster: As crisis deepens, DEF’s Chanderiyaan extends immediate relief
Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) through its flagship programme Chanderiyaan has been demonstrating the power of digital intervention to improve the financial status of traditional artisans of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh and creating a model for traditional-skill based clusters for over 10 years now. But the Covid-19 pandemic and the country-wide lockdown has adversely affected the weavers community with no specific government relief for the handloom clusters. Muzaffar Ansari, a representative of DEF from Chanderi, was part of the first batch of weavers of this digital intervention. Read More
Covid 19 Relief Program: Creating alternate livelihood opportunities for weavers
“Essential items have become costlier. Now, getting food is becoming difficult because there is no work or earning,” said Mohammed Shiraj Ansari from Saidanpur cluster of Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh who is one of the many weavers who earn a living through daily wages. Barabanki has around 50,000 weavers and about 20,000 looms. The weavers here earn ₹ 100-120 daily which is even less than the national daily wage average. Moreover, due to the lockdown, the new orders are put on hold and the weavers haven’t received past payments as the delivery of the existing orders could not be made. Read More

DEFDialogue Covid-19 E13: VLE's Make Bihar Proud

Covid-19 Crisis: SoochnaPreneur Kiran Helps the Elderly and Disabled

Banking Correspondent Helps Harassed Woman

Covid-19 Calls Humans Back to Basics: Arun Maira on What Next Post-Crisis
Dr. Arun Maira
Former Member of Planning Commission of India
Former chairman of Boston Consulting Group
“There is a crisis of a condition that has happened in our lives as the members of the human society. The condition being that we are now isolated and our regular interaction suddenly disrupted. While our economic activity has stopped and we are adjusting by connecting digitally, this disruption in human interference has given a chance to the nature to clean and heal itself. So, COVID-19 has given us time to think what we want to create together,” said Dr. Arun Maira in conversation with Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) founder and director, during the special series- Covid 19 DEF Dialogue. Read More
Covid-19 digital foot-soldier

Prabhu, a 29 year old digital entrepreneur has been working in the district of West Champaran, Bihar, as a DEF representative from the past few years. As a digitally equipped SoochnaPreneur (Information Entrepreneur) he has been diligently serving the people in his village Fachkahar by providing access to digital services and ensuring government entitlements. When the Covid-19 Pandemic put the country in a lockdown, most people realized that their role in society was to stay home and break the chain. However, Prabhu wanted to do something to help the community; he assessed the effects of the lockdown... Read More

Donate to Covid-19 Relief Fund
Subscribe to our mailing list

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.

House No. 44, 3rd Floor, Kalu Sarai, New Delhi | | | +91-11-26532786