Covid-19 continues to affect countries rampantly across the world. It is perhaps one of the largest crises in more than a century and there is hardly any country that isn’t affected by it. The pandemic has not only put a massive strain on the healthcare systems across the world, but also taking over 300,000 lives and leaving adverse effects on Livelihoods and economies due to the lockdowns.
India has not left behind in being affected due to the drastic effects of the deadly Covid-19 and the lockdown implemented in the country. The sheer unpreparedness exposed a failed system as the lockdown has been affecting vulnerable communities, domestic migrant workers, PLHIV, PWDS, Beggars, Pedestrian Dwellers, Farmers & daily wage earners. Even though many NGOs and Civil Societies have been the sole reason for coming together to join hands with the govt’s efforts, the situation remains grim and far from any improvement.
Uttar Pradesh, being one of the highest domestic migrants returning to the state, is also in the clutches of Covid-19. More than 5 lakh workers have returned to the state but are struggling for livelihood which will turn worse with the season change as we enter drastic summers of the month of June and July followed by Monsoons. They do not have food or resources to sustain their families. The struggle continues even as NGOs & Civil society Organizations are on the ground trying to support families with food & other needs. While they have lost jobs in tier 1 cities, back in their villages they have an opportunity to work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment (MGNREGA) which emphasizes engaging workers in their local areas for work while providing them fixed wages under the scheme.
Caritas India Partners DSWS PGSS have been implementing Swaraksha AHT Program in these villages & they felt that this was a suitable time to mobilize the Gram Pradhans & encourage the workers to go for the MGNREGA work in their villages during the lockdown period. After some discussion with the Pradhan & Panchayat members, the scheme was rolled out for the home coming migrant workers so that they can earn wages in their villages itself. After certain compliant requirements and formalities, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme was initiated in two villages – Barwakalan & Balai, which are located at the border with Nepal. Around 780 migrant workers were engaged in daily work of land/block bunding, making drains, levelling roads & cleaning the ponds. As per the revised wages under MGNREGA INR 202 per day is transferred directly to the account of the workers. The scheme has been a great help for those returning. Pradhan of these villages are making all efforts for quicker payments of these workers so that their needs can be fulfilled in this situation of crisis.
After the start of MGNREGA in these two villages, migrant workers can have a sigh of relief and able to explore more work in their own villages. They expressed their gratitude to the Pradhans of the village, who responded swiftly and strategically seeking the assistance of Caritas India partners were able to help the migrant workers. The Pradhan also expressed his gratitude to CI Partners for their continued support in the villages during the lockdown and for providing relief in the form of ration kits.