Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the extension of lockdown across states in India, the situation remains alarming, a number of cases continue to rise in the country. While the World Health Organisation has reported 4,893,186 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 323,256 deaths (as of 21st May), globally; the number of confirmed active cases in India are 118,447 and 3,583 deaths has taken place as of May 21st May. The pandemic, followed by a lockdown has severely impacted the most marginalised households, hampering their livelihoods, by affecting access to food and other daily requirements.
The government response has been in the interest of keeping people safe and providing relief to the most marginalised through stimulus packages. Plan India’s COVID-19 response focuses on reaching out to the most vulnerable communities in need of support and committed to promoting mass awareness, particularly among girls, young women, children, and vulnerable youth, against the spread of COVID in India.
As part of the community outreach, Plan India’s response focuses on communicating public health information, distributing hygiene kits, dry ration kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) while ensuring that the needs and rights of girls and young women are addressed. The humanitarian response started in nine states including – Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, with an aim to reach up to 200,000 people. Until 11th May, Plan India, with support of local NGO partners and volunteers, has distributed 49,981 + Dry Ration Kits, 59,669+ Hygiene Kits and reached 2,468+ villages and slums with COVID-19 messaging.
While the lockdown has made it difficult for the teams (Plan India and Partner staff) to conduct field visits to sponsored families, Plan India has initiated follow-up through phone calls to stay connected with its community members. Teams are making daily calls to understand wellbeing, medical condition, and other needs of the families. They also counsel them about the safety and preventive measures around COVID-19. Until May 21st May Plan India team has reached 29,917+ girls and 12,820+ boys over mobile phones.
Continuing the partnership with Niti Aayog, Plan India is working closely in seven ‘Aspirational Districts’ where it is supporting District Collectors in their initiatives and efforts to combat COVID-19. The aspirational districts where Plan India is working include Siddharth Nagar (Uttar Pradesh), Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Hazaribagh, West Singhbhum, and Khunti (Jharkhand), Karauli (Rajasthan), and Muzaffarpur (Bihar). With an active outreach to these districts, Plan India has been appointed as the Nodal NGO for responding to COVID-19 in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharth Nagar district. Plan India will lead the planning and monitoring of a coordinated response in the district under the guidance of the District Magistrate and will work in close coordination with the district administration and other local NGOs.
As part of this community outreach, Plan India’s flagship project ‘Ahana’ is working relentlessly to serve as a bridge between pregnant women living with HIV/AIDS and life-saving Antiretroviral (ARV) medicines to ensure that their treatment is not stopped during the lockdown. Emergency Identity Cards have been issued to 361 ‘Ahana’ Field Officers, who are working in 357 districts of 14 states to ensure availability of ARV medicines and other necessities associated with the pandemic.
Plan India is also receiving support from leading corporates, namely Metso, Eicher Motors, Barclays, Sandvik Asia Pvt Ltd, Give India and Reckitt Benckiser who have come forward to provide much needed humanitarian relief to some of the poorest and most vulnerable families and in particular the girl child.
In all of this, Plan India continues to pay close attention to the voices of girls, children, and young women. It is critical that they are seen and heard as there is strong evidence which indicates an exponential increase in vulnerabilities such as gender-based discrimination and violence during humanitarian crises. During this lockdown period, Plan India mobilised more than 60 young girl changemakers from its programme areas and through the format of video storytelling, these young changemakers relayed their powerful stories while advocating preventive measures such as practising hand hygiene and social distancing.
At Plan India workplace, the work-from-home policy for its staff members continues to remain in effect encouraging social isolation, thereby reducing the risk of social contact, and curbing the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, all interstate and international travel for Plan India personnel stand cancelled until 31st May 2020. The technical and go-to ‘Quick Response Team’ (QRT) is actively monitoring the situation on a daily basis to take immediate decisions and manage any situation that might emerge.
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