Challenges from the ground in Jharkhand during COVID-19

Why we came together

This is an extremely difficult time that we are facing personally, in the communities we work with and in our organizations. We this realization, the 10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborate felt the responsibility to resonate the need for connection, coordination, and camaraderie.

Following the first meeting of key non-profit organizations coming together to share their experiences, the Collaborative also saw the need for a more targeted conversation to understand the on-ground scenario in the state of Jharkhand. Our local community-based organizations in Jharkhand have played a key role in the responding to the needs of communities in Jharkhand and continue to remain a critical part of the Collaborative.

Given that the second wave has had an especially devastating effect on states like Jharkhand, this free-flowing, no-agenda session was a space where we could manage some of the isolation and helplessness all of us are feeling currently, with the hope that coming together, and sharing would help us better understand our role in responding to the impact of these times on the people and communities we serve.

Participants

The Jharkhand community of practice meet was attended by 12 organizations from Jharkhand, each of whom shared their current organizational responses and experiences of the pandemic

Dream a Dream

NEEDS

Jan Lok Kalyan Parishad

Plan India

Jan Sarokar

Pragati Educational Academy

Jharkhand Gramin Vikas Trust, Dhanbad

Prerna Bharti

LJK Lohardaga

Sahayogini Ho

Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra, Hazaribagh

SWADESH Organization

Key Highlights and Learnings

The session began with a set of polls to gauge the actual impact of the pandemic on organizational health, staff and programs. Results of the polls indicated that while some organizations have had flexibility and support from funders, all organizations have been able to put in place adequate mechanisms for supporting their staff during this time. Most organizations were in the process of or had already made shifts in their programs and strategies to address the pandemic, and a majority of them felt that there would be a medium to long-term impact of the pandemic on their programs and core mission values.

Organization Level Impact: 

Further discussion also opened up the floor to organizations to share their experiences of how the second wave has impacted them. 

  • Impact on Staff: Team members and families were getting affected by Covid, to respond to this, organizations took a pause to support members through this time. 

  • Impact from funding shifts: Funding cuts from FCRA/CSR have impacted organizations in different ways, including scaling back of program as well as number of staff.  However, most organizations have repurposed current funding to Covid response and funders have been supportive of this. 

  • Lack of mobility: Travel restrictions have affected organizational work and many have pivoted to using WhatsApp as a way to engage with communities.

These challenges are also accompanied by the continually developing situation on the ground. 

Community Level Impact : 

Partners also shared several key issues that are currently affecting the communities they work with, that included:

  • Increase impact on vulnerable groups: Rise in child marriage, limited access to education as well as mental health issues have been the biggest challenges for young people and adolescents.  Health systems have been disrupted specifically maternal, child and adolescent health as all health infrastructure is Covid focused.

  • Reverse migration and loss of livelihood:  Restricted mobility for migrant workers due to discontinuation of the Jharkhand e-pass as well as reverse migration has led to loss of income & livelihoods. 

  • Vaccine hesitancy and myths: Vaccine hesitancy is on the rise due to lack of awareness, myths and fear (from a few reported deaths) There is high degree of misinformation and lack of awareness about Covid and Covid appropriate behaviors. In rural areas, people are likely to be treated by unqualified doctors which may lead to further complications. 

Emerging Need Areas: 

Partners further shared some priority need areas that require to be addressed in response to the evolving Covid situation on ground  

  • Focus on education: An urgent and immediate response to gap in education services needs to be addressed. As students have been out of school for a year, there is a serious gap in learning which will impact in the long term.

  • Building awareness and busting myths:  It is important to drive the uptake of vaccination by building awareness and addressing hesitancy and myths that continue to circulate. This is specifically true for the rural and remote locations. 

  • Need for medical infrastructure: Rural areas have limited medical facilities which can provide timely care and response. With the anticipation of a third wave, it is essential to bridge this gap of missing infrastructure to address this to prevent rise of third wave in rural areas.

  • Policy response: There is a need to strengthen the state disaster management policy, and create a cadre of staff that can respond to Covid waves.  

  • Focus on Mental Health: Scalable solutions to address mental health issues and isolation among young people is needed

  • Further investment into girls and delivery of health and nutrition services especially now as funds are getting diverted to Covid.

Next Steps

This session was a first step towards understanding the many challenges that the sector and our partners are currently facing, in light of the second wave. All participants expressed the importance of such forums and consultations with a view of combining efforts, encouraging cross learnings and sharing to address the key needs of communities. 

The conversation highlighted not only several key priority areas, but also the need for a coordinated and shared response from stakeholders across the sector and the need for further attention to be paid to organizations facing the brunt of the pandemic at the grassroots. 

It is clear that we will need to continue pushing to prioritize the well-being of each other and the communities we serve, and to ensure that the conversation is open to and highlights the perspectives of vulnerable communities and populations. 

 

The Collaborative will continue this series of consultations with various stakeholder groups, including members of our 10to19 National Community of Practice. Our next consultations will be held on Tuesday, June 1st and Thursday, June 3rd, and will be open to all.