Sustainable Covid-19 Relief Work With People’s Participation

We the people of India”…..Let’s fight against COVID-19

CORO is a Mumbai-based organisation that works with marginalised communities (Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Classes, single women, and women facing domestic abuse, among others) across Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Over the last 30 years, we have run several programmes centred on their upliftment, and in that process, have built up a verified database of people who are extremely poor and vulnerable. While conducting our programmes, we have also developed a large network of smaller local NGOs and CBOs across Maharashtra.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown, we at CORO developed a relief model to reach out to these people. We started a fundraising drive on Milaap and approached vendors such as DMart for food relief kits. Each kit, priced between Rs 900 and Rs 960, contains rice, wheat flour, sunflower oil, pulses, whole sprouts, biscuits, tea powder, sugar, Dettol soap, and sanitary pads. In the case of Marathwada, the quantity of rice is reduced to accommodate groundnuts, which constitutes an important part of the regional diet.

During the first week of the lockdown, we distributed kits to distressed people in 11 areas across Mumbai. Subsequently, we moved to the interior areas of Maharashtra. Here we adopted a different model because we realised early on that we had to decentralise the processes of food kit preparation and transportation. CORO’s teams at the regional, district, village and block levels coordinated to identify a reliable network of local kirana dealers. Our teams were assisted by local grassroots leaders, volunteers and partner organisations, to ensure that only those shops with sufficient and good quality stocks were identified. The kirana dealers were then sent a list of the recipient families and locations to which the kits had to be delivered. Once this was done, the local on-ground teams verified the bills raised by the kirana stores. With all these checks in place, we have managed to avoid a misuse of resources in the aid process.

Our relief mission also responds to the needs of sanitation workers and volunteers who require PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as masks and gloves; women and girls at risk from domestic violence; and those who have lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown. We are currently undertaking three distinct rapid assessments:

(1) To determine the needs of Mumbai’s community-level and municipal sanitation workers, but also local toilet attendants. This is being overseen by CORO’s Right to Pee campaign team.

(2) To help check violence against women and girls, which has risen significantly during the lockdown as a result of men being at home most of the time. CORO believes it is important to engage the victims (women and girls) as well as perpetrators (men) in a dialogue to address the issue. Towards this, CORO has initiated an in-depth, household-level telephone survey in M Ward, Mumbai’s second largest slum after Dharavi with a population of 8,06,433 (Source: CORO Right to Pee Collaboration Action Report, February 2019). Through these calls, we speak with every member of the household regardless of sex/gender and age – from elderly members to children, men and women – to build our understanding of how DV/VAWG interventions can be made more comprehensive. Over the coming days, CORO plans to increase the geographical spread of this intervention.

(3) To help check violence against women and girls, which has risen significantly during the lockdown as a result of men being at home most of the time. CORO believes it is important to engage the victims (women and girls) as well as perpetrators (men) in a dialogue to address the issue. Towards this, CORO has initiated an in-depth, household-level telephone survey in M Ward, Mumbai’s second largest slum after Dharavi with a population of 8,06,433 (Source: CORO Right to Pee Collaboration Action Report, February 2019). Through these calls, we speak with every member of the household regardless of sex/gender and age – from elderly members to children, men and women – to build our understanding of how DV/VAWG interventions can be made more comprehensive. Over the coming days, CORO plans to increase the geographical spread of this intervention.

Next Steps

Our immediate plan is two-fold:

(1) Encourage and prepare grassroots leadership and crucially those within local self-government structures, to initiate relief work in their areas, and

(2) Develop a scalable action plan on the basis of local initiatives that the State government can adopt in collaboration with NGOs, CBOs and local self-government structures.

Having established an efficient and empirically-informed relief model, we are collaborating with the State government and advising them on how CORO’s best practices can be replicated on a larger scale. We understand that the State’s mechanisms require our support, especially with respect to communities, families and individuals who may be undocumented or unable to avail the benefits of government schemes. Our relief work aims to complement, or supplement wherever and whenever necessary, the State’s efforts. Efforts are underway to build a network of CBOs/NGOs that can become a part of the fabric of our relief work. With the help of these organisations and locally based grassroots partners, we will initiate the operationalisation of government relief schemes within rural and urban communities most adversely impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown.


What we need

In consonance with CORO’s vision to build a society based on equality and justice, our COVID-19 relief mission connects marginalised communities to their rights (entitlements) to receive food, medical aid, and other forms of support in the context of this lockdown. We require greater financial support that will enable us to meet the resource requirements in four key areas:

(1) Grains for distribution to 9841 urban and rural families in Maharashtra and Rajasthan;

(2) PPE kits comprising masks, gloves and sanitisers for Mumbai’s sanitation workers;

(3) Scaling the production of home-made masks through more robust recruitment of women from local communities. 60-65 women have offered to take part in this production process;

(4) To frame guidelines for police, shelter homes and service providers in the light of increasing reports of domestic violence in CORO’s main intervention area, Mumbai’s M Ward. This is being done as part of our initiative on preventing violence against women and girls.

About CORO

CORO has been invested in grassroots processes for over 29 years. What began as a literacy campaign in partnership with the State government and other Mumbai-based resource organisations, has grown through a deepened engagement with the diverse interests, needs and demands of marginalised communities across Maharashtra and Rajasthan. We work through 7 verticals, each designed as a strategic response to the breadth of inequalities shaping the everyday lives of Dalit, Tribal, Muslim, and Nomadic communities. Women and girls constitute an important demographic in the discourse on inequality, and our interventions are therefore tailor-made to address the specifically gendered character of social asymmetries. Our thematically and locationally diverse verticals represent the cultural, economic, political and environmental embodiment of enduring practices of inequality, whilst emphasising the ways that women and girls get doubly implicated within marginalised communities. CORO’s interventions thus focus on providing various forms of resource support to individuals and groups, but especially women, within / from marginalised communities who can mobilise community change-making processes through grassroots mediums. Our grassroots leadership development model functions through a “bottom up” or “power within” paradigm that enables communities to take ownership of and sustain processes of social transformation.

For more information on CORO’s programmatic, campaign, and COVID relief work, please visit:

http://coroindia.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/COROINDIA/

Page 3 - Relief kit distribution details

COVID-19 FOOD AID RELIEF PROGRAMME DETAILS

Recipient Profile

We have tried to identify people in urban and rural areas who subsist on daily wage labour, landless agricultural labourers, migrant workers, beggars, vendors in trains and streets, workers in the informal sector including domestic help and single women (widows, ‘abandoned,’ or divorced / separated). Our teams have also identified transgender people, the differently-abled, seniors, children, and tribal communities, as those rendered most vulnerable by the lockdown.

Identification of Recipients

Recipients of CORO’s relief packages were identified through needs-based assessments carried out by grassroots leaders and regional partner organisations familiar with the socio-economic situations of local community members. These assessments were done informally but meticulously.

Distribution Areas

Through our relief model, as of April 14th, we have been able to deliver aid to a total number of 7732 families in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Of these, 6574 households are in 8 regions and 25 districts of Maharashtra (including 800 families across 11 areas of Mumbai); and, 1158 families are in 3 regions and 5 districts of Rajasthan.

(1) Mumbai and Mumbai Suburb (Shivaji Nagar, Bainganwadi, Govandi, P L Lokhande Marg, Vashinaka, Vile Parle, Bhandup, Ulhas Nagar, Kurla, Bandra (W), Malad) - Daily wage labour, street & train vendors, beggars, domestic helpers, workers from small scale industries like chappal and jari-making, single women and migrants workers who have no ration cards or any other form of identification document to avail the services of government schemes.

(2) Marathwada (Beed | 275 villages in 10 Blocks) - Single women (widows, ‘abandoned’ and unmarried) who have no alternative sources of livelihood during the lockdown. Many of them are daily wage agricultural labour, some work in clothing stores, hospitals, petrol pumps, and as domestic help.

(3) Western Maharashtra (Satara, Sangli, Kolahpur, Solapur, Pune) - Landless farm labour, daily wagers, single women, and migrant workers.

(4) Konkan (Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg) - Tribal families, including the Katkari and Thakar community. Single women, the Vadar community (road construction workers), Dalit communities, migrants, housemaids, and agriculture labour.

(5) Vidarbha (Akola, Amravati, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Yavatmal) - Labourers, farm workers and migrant workers.

(6) North Maharashtra (Ahmadnagar, Nashik, Nandurbar, Dhule) - Marginalised families mainly belonging to the Nomadic Tribes, ST, NT/DNT.

(7) Rajasthan (Jaipur, Udaipur (Pratapgadh, Chittorgadh), Jodhpur, Alwar, Sikar) - Tribal families (Adivasi), daily wage labour, individuals / families without ration cards, single women, SC (Kanjar) / ST and other minority Families, Muslim and Dalit communities.

Distribution Practices

Towards ensuring accountability and transparency, our field and office teams maintain clear records of grocery and transportation bills, and online transfers. Deliveries and distributions are also documented through recipients’ signatures and photos of them with their kits.