South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA) has been working for holistic development of the marginalized and tribal people in the district of Koraput by strengthening community action for better health, education, livelihood, governance and child rights and child protection. The outbreak of COVID in 2020 and subsequent lockdown in stages in order to contain the pandemic has created uncertainty and fear among the people. During this critical period SOVA has extended numerous supports in the form of awareness generation, distribution of sanitary kit, voluntary support to block and Panchayat administration, relief aid to the marginalized community and nutritious food for children to ensure their wellbeing.
As a strategy, SOVA intervened to provide interim relief measures to the vulnerable ones with coordination of Panchayat, Block and District administration and utilized its village level volunteers for undisrupted support during the pandemic. The details of daily support were shared with the district administration through the authorized mail id provided by the district administration.
The various activities undertaken by the organisation are as follows:
Awareness generation through COMMUNITY RADIO:
The Community radio of SOVA was an effective tool in disseminating information on different government advisories during the time of pandemic in 2020. As community radio disseminate messages in local tribal language, its outreach and acceptance in 25 km radii covering a population about 1.25 lac rural and urban communities has proven to be indispensible. It was used to disseminate the messages through Jingles, stories, Plays, Comedies, folk song and slogans with voice of local youth. Even for places inaccessible through Community Radio, the messages developed at radio station were shared with the village volunteers who narrow casted them with the community members. Similarly, child interesting programs were aired and digitally posted to the village volunteers who shared it to parents to engage their children in various co curricular activities.
Awareness generation through PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT:
Looking at the low awareness level among the rural tribal mass, mobile awareness campaign in the villages by public announcement in tribal language focusing on the guideline of the government were conducted. Public announcement were done in Koraput municipality area, neighboring blocks, NACs and rural villages where the messages of COVID were announced. Along will announcement through mike; demonstrative model were enacted by the volunteers on the five steps of safe hand wash, mask use and social distancing. Focus was given to strengthen disinfection of the mask or clothes used for covering the mouth and nose. The messages were also transferred to the community members through Whatsapp through volunteers so that they share it for wider use and learning. Through public announcement by miking we could outreach about one lakh 75 thousand people on COVID-19.
Extending support at TRANSIT POINTS:
With extension of lockdown, the district administration agreed to SOVA’s request and permitted to support at the transit points in the interstate boarders because of the increasing number of migrants coming from different states through Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh boarder and provide necessary food and sanitary items. SOVA supported the local police at transit point in Chandili and Pottangi in registration and distribution of dry food, water bottle, sanitary pad for the adolescent and female migrants and sanitary kit for the children migrating with their parents. Dry food and safe drinking water was provided to 4592 migrant families entering Koraput through two transit points.
Relief measures for the Vulnerable Community:
During the period of lockdown it was found that there were many vulnerable people who either depended on daily wage or were out of work. Apart from them, a few vulnerable group like the PLHIV (person living with HIV & AIDS), people living with disability, people suffering from Leprosy, migrant workers and female headed family who are burdened with the livelihood of their entire family. SOVA supported these people with dry ration so that they meet their daily essential need and have a minimum food security for another thirty days. Dry ration was provided to 4278 vulnerable families to support their food security.
Safety Kit for FLWs, Police, Zail inmates, Traffic Personals and Quarantine Centers:
During the pandemic, the frontline workers, police, traffic personals were engaged in providing services to the community at different vulnerable points. These functionaries needed special protection and safety. SOVA, in consultation with the ICDS and NHM office, provided safety kit (containing mask, soap, sanitizer and glove) to the FLWs service providers. Apart from the frontline workers, SOVA felt it necessary to support the traffic Police engaged in their daily routine. The Jail authority of Koraput and Jeypore sub division also requested SOVA to support the prison inmates for better hygiene and sanitation to which the organization responded in time. SOVA staffs disseminated awareness program in the jail to sensitize them on frequent hand wash, use of mask, Social distancing and avoid spitting everywhere. They were also suggested to maintain distance from those inmates placed under quarantine within the premises. Safety Sanitary kits were provided to 4279 FLWs, Police, traffic personal and Zail inmates.
The organisation also provided Sanitary Pad to the adolescent girls in the rural areas so as to ensure that they do not deviate from their sanitary practices. Sanitary pad was provided to 3208 adolescent girls from rural areas and migrant families to ensure that they continue with the safe sanitary practices.
Voluntary support to the Panchayat and Block administration:
In order to support the block and Panchayat offices in ensuring proper implementation of various relief measures in the form of case distribution, free PDS distribution, dry food distribution and hot cooked meal distribution to the identified community members at village level, the village youth volunteers of SOVA provided voluntary support in informing the identified communities, maintaining safe distribution of goods and delivering hot cooked meals to the older, handicapped and diseased community members to their villages from the Panchayat office. 125 SOVA staffs and volunteers provided voluntary service to the district administration during distribution of government provisions and awareness programmes in 150 villages ensuring peace and social distancing. 11,570 children practiced safe hand wash, social distancing and mask use through demonstration by volunteers.
Nutritious food for Children:
One of the most effected among the community is the children who had to suffer loss of education and sufficient nutrition intake. To ensure that these children get sufficient nutritious food, SOVA provided nutritious food supplement (Chatua) to 1000 children for three months so that they maintain proper health standard and do not become malnourished. 6570 children were engaged in home-based learning through play and learning materials.