Bangalore – Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), with the support of Single Window team, Help-desk, and ASHA workers made door-to-door visits to the house of the construction workers living in settlements and disseminated information on safety and precautions to be taken for prevention of COVID-19 infection. Health camps were also organised for the construction and casual workers in the settlement in collaboration with National Health Mission and the local Primary Health Centre (PHCs).
Single Window team is coordinating with ASHA workers and identified construction sites in 121 Wards. Help-desk members, Lalitha and Manjula helped ASHA workers to identify construction workers for health check-up at doorsteps and 325 members underwent health check-up by national Health Mission Medical Officer.
Health check-up for Pourakarmikas (Sanitation workers)
Similarly, Single Window– coordinated with Primary Health Centres in Binnipete—also organised a health camp in collaboration with BBMP under the National Health Mission on 14 April 2020 at Magadi Road Primary Health Centre where 120 paurakarmikas or sanitation workers underwent health check-up.
Parvathi (35) is a sanitation worker and her husband works as a driver in BBMP garbage transportation unit. They have 3 children. The family has been living at Magadi Road II- Cross in for the past 10 years. She pays Rs. 4000 as rent and has been working as a pourakarmikas for the past 8 years.
She has received safety kits such as mask, hand sanitizers, hand gloves and shoes from BBMP and on 14 April 2020 underwent a medical health check-up and COVID-19 test though she does not have any symptoms. However, she feels good and safe because she works in this critical situation where she is vulnerable.
“In my team, we are 120 workers and none of them have been identified with any health problems. In the current situation, we have to leave our children alone at home and do worry about them when we go to work. BBMP provides us breakfast and lunch. Single Window team has distributed dry ration in my locality and I have also received a kit.”
Advocacy with policy and decision makers
CFAR is working closely with State level Covid-19 Disaster Management Committee on different issues. The Committee, comprising 15 IAS officers, relate to medical emergency management plan, disease surveillance, testing and critical care training, ensuring availability of essential medical equipment, and coordinating with private sector NGOs and international organizations for response related to activities, economic and welfare measures, among others. The Committee is also responsible for migrant issues including coordinating food and other supplies and stay/ temporary shelter for migrant labourers.
Submission of issues related to immediate relief
CFAR documented 6 issues related to construction workers living in settlements without food and basic amenities, difficulties of people living with HIV to access ART (Anti Retroviral Therapy) and transport to reach ART centres to collect medicine, distribution of tablets to those who are under DOTS, distribution of PDS for the households do not have BPL Ration card, pensioners who have not received pension, people who do not get refilling of gas cylinder, and problem of dialysis patient who did not receive dialysis.
Chandrika- living with HIV and member of Milana
“CFAR supported us to document the issues of people living with HIV. This related to collecting ART medicine and bringing to the notice of policy makers and issue circular to distribute medicine at the door steps. In the beginning, PLHIVs faced a lot of problems in going to the ART centre because of non availability transport facilities. Through Bangalore HIV/AIDS Forum, we created a WhatsApp group and disseminated information to People living with HIV across the State. With the support of CFAR, we have distributed 125 dry ration kits to PLHIV families in Bangalore.”
Evidence building, mapping of poor and vulnerable communities and linking them up for immediate relief
CFAR has coordinated with community organizations working on COVID-19 response on issues related to food relief, and health services among others. These includes, SAFA XLRI Alumni Initiative, Munnade, Association for Promoting Social Action, Milana, Bembala, Arogya Seva, Vijaya Mahila Sangha, Jyothi Mahila sangha, Swathi Mahila Sangha, Arunodaya Network of Positive People, Bangalore HIV/AIDS Forum, Garment Workers Union, Karnataka Rakshak and other workers unions.
Through SAFA XLRI Alumni Initiative, CFAR has reached out to 7130 households and 35650 individual beneficiaries from the marginal and vulnerable communities of construction workers, migrant garment workers, street venders, sex workers, HIV positives, transgender person and distributed dry ration among them.
Veena, transgender woman, Gopalpura
Veena is used to spending long hours on the road, meeting people and solving their problems. However, ever since the lockdown was announced, she has been doubly busy. She has been going from door-to-door, distributing free ration and sometimes cooked meals to over 500 households in Gopalpura which is located near Gandhinagar in Bengaluru. Since a large number of families in the area are daily wage labourers like domestic workers, construction workers, and even street venders, the lockdown meant no income for all of them, which had a direct impact on their food consumption.
“I get a lot of support from various organizations such as Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), Swaraj Abhiyan, Diya Ghar and I, along with my volunteers, go to slums and map the households and based on the mapping they send us the dry ration kits and we distribute to poor and unreached slums in Bangalore.”
“I try my best to ensure that their basic needs are met particularly related to food. I have mapped around 150 transgender and distributed kits to them in Mysore Road, Chaluvadipalya, Sukkadkatte. We are a vulnerable community, and it is in times like this when the support that we need is much more and I am glad that I can help hundreds of families.”
Nethravathi, Outreach worker, Single Window
“I live in Nayandahalli slum where hundreds of migrant construction workers live in small huts without any basic facilities. These families have been living in the locality for more than 25 years and the entire slum is depending upon the daily wages, and they go to different parts of Bangalore for the work.”
During the lockdown, Nethravathi helped more than 400 households in the locality through different donors. She has mapped 140 households without BPL Ration card and linked to Department of Food and Civil Supplies for dry ration. “I enumerated 140 houses for Rs.1000 financial assistance through Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board and the Labour Department and identified 38 new construction workers and got them registered with the Board.”
Mahadevamma, construction workers, Vinayaka slum
My name is Mahadevamma living in Vinayaka slum and working as a construction worker and my husband is also construction workers and my children are studying in PUC and secondary school. “Because of the lockdown, I and my husband were unable to feed our two children until CFAR team distributed dry ration including rice, oil, salt, and dal that helped us to sail through 10-12 days. The team also helped us to get ration on time and the Help-desk member Nethra visited us daily. She also helped us to get cooked food being distributed by police officers.”
Dry ration for sex workers living with HIV
With the support of Swathi Mahila Sangha, CFAR mapped 300 sex workers living with HIV in their intervention settlements and distributed dry ration to them through SAFA XLRI Alumni Initiative.
Facilitate pregnant and lactating mothers for Take Home Ration (THR)
CFAR submitted community recommendations to provide Take Home Ration instead of Midday meal for the pregnant and lactating mothers on 26 March, 2020. Subsequently, the Department of Women and Child Development has started distributing Take Home Ration to pregnant and lactating mothers.
Single Window with the help of Help-desk, SHG members enumerated and identified 3650 pregnant and lactating mothers in 5 Wards and facilitates ICDS to distribute Take Home Ration.
Of the 36 settlements, Help-desk members in 7 settlement supported Anganwadi Helpers to distribute Take Home Ration where Anganwadi workers could not travel because of the lockdown.
Dhanlashmi, Help-desk: “In my locality, there are 51 pregnant and lactating women who go to Anganwdi centres and eat cooked food in the afternoon. Due to COVID-19, pregnant and lactating women could not go and eat at the centre. The Anganwadi worker called me and asked me to help Anganwadi helper to distribute food grains. I took the support of two more volunteers and distributed Take Home Ration to all 51 women enrolled under Mathrapoorna Midday meal Yojana.”
Mapping of construction workers at the construction sites
With the help of different builders and contractors such as Hombale builders, we enumerated 331 construction workers at the construction sites in different locations and linked these for Midday meal packets distributed by the Labour Department and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Everyday 331 meal packets are being distributed at Police Quarters on Mysore Road, Ananda Jyothi Nagar, Vidhyagiri layout, Chandra layout, Devegowda slum, Arundatti Nagar, and Subhash Nagar.
Vijaya Shankar, Manager, Hombale Constructions says: “In the beginning, we found it very difficult to contact the Department for Food Relief but through CFAR, we got the toll free number –155214 and contacted the Labour Inspector. We sought 96 food packets for the construction workers. From 2 April, 2020 we are getting 96 packets every day. Even though it is not sufficient for the workers but we could able to manage with some relief.’’
Coordination with ICDS team for distribution of Take Home Ration where there is no ICDS centre
With the help of Help-desk members in VST Colony, we enumerated 122 children between the age of 6 months to 6 years and submitted the list for making arrangements for the Take Home Ration being distributed by Department of Women and Child Development where there is no ICDS centre. Lakshmamma, Ganesh, Rani, Manjula enumerated 122 children and with the support of Anganwadi worker in Magadi Road distributed green grams, jiggery, rice, nutrimix, milk powder, and sugar.
Usha is one of the 144 Help-desk members working with CFAR-Single Window and is responsible for 187 households in her locality in Ambedkar Nagar.
“I get update everyday from CFAR about health precautions to be taken and announcements from the government for poor on COVID-19 relief. I have supported 156 beneficiaries including pregnant women, and children in accessing Take Home Ration through ICDS at Ambedkar Nagar, Subhash Nagar ward.”
Single Window team connected Manjunath with Labour Department officials and she sends daily request for 500 packet foods through helpline number-155214. He then goes to the hub and collects food packets which are then distributed in 5 different construction workers site in Nagarabhavi -128 Ward. Manjunath, is also Ward Committee/ Help-desk member.
Mr Mukund, Senior Labour Officer says CFAR is working closely with the Labour Department to connect labourers, especially migrants, and construction workers across Bangalore. “I am coordinating and sharing the details with CFAR team and they raise the requirement for different parts of Bangalore and help them in getting food packet everyday.’’
Another officer of the Department, Ansar says the Department had approached CFAR and mapped 850 families in the slums in Tippunanagr, Yelahanka Taluk for food.
Jyothi, president of Jyothi Mahila Sangha said CFAR coordinated with her to map sex workers in different parts of Bangalore and through her Sangha and Help-desk members from CFAR distributed 1200 kits to sex workers in Bangalore.
Mr Anurag Behar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation and Mr Anand Swaminathan, CEO, Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives visited Ambedkar Nagar in Subhash Nagar on 24 April, 2020 and interacted with the slum dwellers and even heard their problems.
The Help-desk members, Single Window team explained to the visitors the work they are doing, particularly food relief, health services for pregnant and children etc with the support of CFAR.