August 12, NEW DELHI – A new survey of thousands of urban and rural households across India on the impact of COVID-19, has found that families are increasingly struggling to make ends meet, find employment and put food on the table. Overall, 80 percent of respondents said they could not afford day-to-day basics like food, water, electricity and gas, due to income loss.
Hunger and a lack of access to food were the other top issues identified by respondents.
The indirect effects of the pandemic are also taking their toll on the most vulnerable in society, and with inadequate social safety nets to rely on, families are being driven to despair, with many taking out loans or selling household items to make ends meet. For children, being out of school and stuck at home exposes them to potential domestic abuse and exploitation. India has seen an increase in cases of child abuse since lockdown measures were imposed, and there is evidence that child trafficking is on the rise.
Save the Children’s findings paint a stark picture for Indian households, both urban and rural:
84 percent of urban households lack livelihood/job opportunities (compared to 64 percent of rural households).
50 percent of households lack sufficient food supplies (43 percent rural; 61 percent urban).
A quarter of households reported having no family income whatsoever.
45 percent of households resorted to credit/loans to meet daily expenses.
40 percent of households said their children did not receive support from school to study at home.
53 percent of households were not aware of Childline, a telephone hotline for children in distress.
Anindit Roy Chowdhury, Programme & Policy Director at Save the Children in India, said:
“The concerns of families to make ends meet and to get food on the table, are solidly reinforced by our findings. Our survey gives a glimpse of the challenges they face. Education has obviously taken a beating, especially for the most vulnerable children. We hope that consolidated action will be possible to ensure that children, who are always the most vulnerable in emergencies, receive urgent and proper support from all those who can help them.”
“For children, being out of school and stuck at home can lead to domestic abuse, violence and exploitation. Phone calls to Childline, the government's dedicated helpline for children, have increased, but our findings show there is still a need to create awareness of this essential service. Similarly, health problems can be aggravated as children may lose access to essential immunizations and other health services.
“We must take urgent action to ensure child rights are not neglected in this unprecedented crisis or we risk losing much of the progress made in reducing child labour, child marriage, trafficking and malnutrition rates over the last few decades. We can’t let COVID-19 undo all this hard work.”
According to Soni, an 18-year-old child rights advocate and Save the Children’s Child Champion, “’In this situation, having proper information, awareness and patiently practicing the safety measures are keys to staying safe and healthy. Along with this, staying at home and maintaining social distancing will protect you from coronavirus.”
Spokespeople available in Kolkata and New Delhi.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Save the Children collected the survey data in two rounds. Round one was conducted between April 5 -18 and involved 7,455 households. Round two was conducted between June 7-30 and involved 7,022 households, of which 66 percent were the repeat sample from round one.
Households were sampled from Save the Children’s project intervention areas in both rural and urban areas across 14 states (Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha) and two union territories (Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir). Information was collected via telephone conversations with an adult member of each household.
Please direct media queries to:
+44 7467 096788