COVID 19 pandemic has emerged as one of the biggest challenges to human survival in the recent times across the globe. Government of India responded swiftly to the pandemic and enacted nation-wide lockdown restrictions of which were relaxed gradually. The pandemic and the corresponding restrictions had multiple repercussions and Prayatn, as civil society organization came forward to minimize the same through immediate relief work, continued awareness building, support to public health and nutrition machinery and rehabilitative support:
- Addressing Food Security and Malnutrition issue during lockdown and thereafter:
When lockdown was imposed on March 24, 2020 people were not prepared for it. In spite of undertaking ration distribution on its own and intensive planning, government machinery found reaching out to each every family difficult. Food security and nutrition emerged as the first challenge and it was realized that if civil society organizations do not come forward to support deaths due hunger and malnutrition will be difficult to avert. Prayatn therefore decided to enter into emergency relief and coordinated with government authorities as well as its funding partners. After taking special permission, ration kits were procured and distributed across all the areas where the organization has reach. Support to migrant workers too was extended in this process. Besides ensuring that the staff members themselves do not become spreaders of the pandemic by ensuring abidance to COVID prevention norms, using PPE kits and preferring telecommunication over physical interaction; maintaining dignity of the needy families by maintaining their confidentiality as per government norms was given due importance. Restarting of services of Anganwadis and Midday Meal in the form of dry ration was also pursued with government taking support of other civil society organizations as well because it was realized that closing of these services was increasing the vulnerability of the community members, particularly women and children, to hunger and Malnutrition. As soon as the services were resumed, spreading awareness in the community about the same was also pursued.
- Community awareness building on COVID 19:
During the course of relief work, it was realized that the community awareness on COVID was lacking, especially in rural areas because of limited reach of mass media in them. People were not using masks, maintaining social distance and following hand sanitization in proper manner because of which risk of infection had increased. Since mass gathering was not recommended and permitted in the situation, innovative ways like movement of awareness vehicle, small group interaction, etc. were undertaken.
- Distribution of masks and hygiene kit:
In order to develop habit of using masks and following hand hygiene, readymade masks and soaps were also distributed in rural areas. Sanitary pads, a necessity for reproductive health and hygiene, were also distributed to adolescent girls and as the supply of the same through Anganwadis had got disturbed in this process.
- Support to public health machinery and frontline workers during COVID 19:
Grassroot level frontline workers of the government like staff public health centers and Anganwadis, police personnel, members of Panchayati Raj Institutions were playing crucial role in ensuring supply of essential material and services without any break. However, they themselves did not have supply of essential protection material like masks, PPE kit, hand washes, sanitizers, etc. for their own protection. In this situation, the organization came forward to take care of them by providing these essentials to them.
- Supporting the COVID 19 vaccination programme:
With the development of vaccines in India, COVID vaccination programme has begun in India. The organization has decided to extend all possible support to the initiative by generating community awareness on the same and motivating the members to get them vaccinated as per their turn. Awareness building on continuing abidance to COVID prevention norms till pandemic is brought into total control will be continued even after completion of the vaccination programme.