Covid-19: NRLM Self Help Group women emerge as community warriors
The motivated, enthusiastic and committed approximately 690 lakh women members of around 63 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the country formed under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, have always contributed in addressing economic and social needs that have emerged at the community level. These women are engaged in livelihoods activities, bringing social change through awareness generation, leading movements and responding during natural calamities. During the on-going crisis also, SHG members have emerged as community warriors by contributing in every possible way to contain the spread of COVID-19. The SHG network across the country was made aware of the various aspects of the disease including the need to maintain personal hygiene, social distancing etc. through Audio Visual (AV) IEC material and advisories developed by Health Ministry which were circulated to all State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLMs). All such information, along with material developed by the state governments, are being used by the SRLMs to ensure that the correct message is communicated to the community about all required precautions. The SRLM staff and SHGs members are creating awareness in the local communities by various means like telephone calls, wall writings, pamphlets/fliers etc. Social media is also being used extensively.
SHG volunteers are playing their role in ensuring that people maintain social distancing in markets, PDS shops etc. In Tamil Nadu, two volunteers of SHGs are assigned to each PDS shop. They are provided gloves, masks and sanitisers and they ensure that people in the queue maintain adequate distance.
Upon declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, JEEViKA, Bihar stepped in and started working on IEC materials that would help in awareness and preparedness for the outbreak. JEEViKA is trying to systematically reach out to a maximum number of households through its 1.4 Lakh SHGs and spread the awareness on topics such as handwash, sanitation, quarantine and isolation and social-distancing. JEEViKA has till date collected mobile numbers more than 1,00,000 of community members and is using the Mobile Vaani platform to release voice messages on COVID-19 and is also addressing the community’s queries through the same.
Rangolis for awareness: SHG women from UP SRLM ‘Prerna’ have used their creativity to make rangolis and mark lines and circles to re-emphasise the need for 'social distancing'. They have also been making wall paintings to spread key messages about COVID prevention in their communities.
Didi Helpline: The Didi helpline, a telephonic helpline initiated by Jharkhand SRLM, is open 24 hours to help migrant labourers by providing them verified information. It enables them to provide their data to state authorities to help evacuate them from different states, back to Jharkhand.
Efforts to dispel fake news: Notable efforts have been made by women of Kudumbashree in Kerala, to help dispel the widespread fake news that causes panic. Through its network of WhatsApp groups with 1,16,396 Women as members, Kudumbasree is trying to propagate only the right information to the community. These platforms are used specifically to disseminate immediate, authentic information and updates on the outbreak and precautionary measures.
Details of masks, PPE, face shield etc produced through SHG network and media coverage are as follows:
Masks: As reported by 27 State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs), around 1.96 crore masks have been produced by the SHG members (as on 8th April 2020). Around 78,373 SHG members are presently involved in manufacturing of masks. Jharkhand SHGs were among the first to respond and have produced about 78,000 masks since March 22, 2020. These masks were being sold at the premises of various district collectorates and subsidised medical stores at an affordable price of Rs. 10/-.
rom the country’s eastern region, 853 SHGs involving 2516 rural women of Chhattisgarh have supplied masks to the state. Self-help groups in Odisha have manufactured more than a million masks for distribution of masks among common people. Arunachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation has asked SHGs to supply 10,000 face masks to prevent the spread of highly infectious COVID-19.
In Andhra Pradesh, 2254 groups of 13 sub-blocks of the district have followed the guidelines of government for the manufacturing of cloth face masks. Similarly, Karnataka rural self-help groups have produced 1.56 lakhs face masks just in 12 days with their dedication to prevent the spread of disease in the state.
Northern Goa district rural development agency through the help of SHGs has supplied 2,000 masks across the state. To cater the increased demand of masks, Himachal Pradesh SHGs with 2000 women members are completely indulged in preparation and production of protective masks.
Personal Protective Equipment: SHG members are also manufacturing PPE including aprons, gowns, face shields etc. Around 5000 PPE kits have been manufactured so far by SHGs in various states including MP, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka. Punjab SRLM reported supply of 500 aprons to Civil Surgeon, Kapurthala. Meghalaya reported supply of 200 face shields to district Medical Health officer. Karnataka reported production of 125 face shields. SRLMs of Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab have reported production of face shields, gowns by the SHG members.
Women collectives step up to promote hand hygiene in their communities with affordable hand Sanitizers
The micro-enterprises supported by DAY-NRLM have taken up the production of hand sanitisers and hand wash products to ensure the availability in rural areas. 900 SHG enterprises in 9 States have produced 1.15 lakh litres of sanitisers with the production in the three States of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh exceeding 25,000 litres each. Around 900 SHG enterprises located across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram are producing sanitizers to feed soaring demand.
Following guidelines proposed by World Health Organization (WHO), a well-measured mix of four ingredients has been used to develop these sanitizers in Jharkhand. The sanitizer has been developed using alcohol (72%), distilled water (13%), glycerin (13%) and basil (2%). For their medicinal effects, lemon grass or basil are being added to the hand sanitizer to increase its effectiveness in destroying the virus. Priced modestly at Rs. 30/- per 100 ml bottle of sanitizer, they are being made available to the general public, hospitals and police stations.
Some SHGs have also been selling liquid soaps to guarantee safe hand hygiene. SHG units located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu have also been able to produce 50,000 litres of hand-washing products.
Sustaining their livelihoods through socially responsive contributions in promoting safe hygiene practices within their respective communities, these women have been fighting the COVID-19 outbreak with utmost dedication and devotion.