Women lead the fight against COVID-19 in the state of Odisha, India


August 8, Fineko/abc.az. As the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus, efficient responses to the pandemic continue to present a challenge for many countries. Some parts of the world — like Odisha in India — a state located on the east coast of India, was hit by cyclone Amphan this year. In such a scenario it becomes quite challenging to evacuate people while ensuring adequate social distancing and providing a hygienic environment, among other things.

Steps Taken in fight against COVID-19

Odisha was one of the first states in India to announce the lockdown, even before the central government imposed the lockdown. Odisha was also the first state to set up hospitals to treat only coronavirus patients. Odisha engaged Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) to assist with awareness generation, ensuring public health and hygiene and providing food security in rural and urban areas to poor and vulnerable groups, especially during the lockdown.

Seven million women of Mission Shakti have taken the lead in crucial initiatives responding to the pandemic, helping contain the spread of the virus providing various community services. SHGs helped implement the ‘Mo Jeevan’ pledge to all habitations across the state, educating 15.3 million persons so as to break the chain of contact. Many of them have also helped spread awareness about social distancing and safety in rural areas.

1339 Mission Shakti SHGs who have experience in stitching garments and producing jute items, made a commitment to undertake mask-making as a philanthropic activity. Thus, 6.5 million reusable face masks were produced, sold at nominal prices to frontline workers. Another 0.3 million masks were distributed free of cost by SHGs.

Mission Shakti SHGs have enabled impoverished households to avail of hot, cooked meals free of cost twice a day during the lockdown. To do so, 7312 SHGs have been engaged in free kitchen management, providing 19.1 million meals in urban and rural areas of the state.

With the active support of the district administration and the District Horticulture Office, 500 SHGs procured 171 tons of surplus vegetables from 1500 farmers for onward trading in local markets and supply to free kitchens managed by SHGs as a best practice, saving farmers from the distress sale of vegetables. This ensured the financial stability of farmers and SHG workers, along with food security at a time of crisis.

Children-focused interventions

Odisha government’s initiative, Mo Pratibha, an online competition with different categories such as art, painting, slogan writing, poster making, short stories and poetry, is one such intervention which helped engage children to imbibe creativity as well as spread awareness about the pandemic; thereby helping the community to contain the spread of the virus.

Tackling the huge influx of migrant workers

Inter-state migrants, large numbers of whom were stranded in their cities of work, were among the worst affected in the nationwide lockdown in India imposed since March 24th. There was a huge challenge for the Odisha Government, owing to large influx of stranded migrant workers. Despite receiving about 0.6 million migrants, Odisha is still one of the states where COVID-19 spread is contained.

Social Distancing: Community Based Monitoring and Way Forward

Odisha Government has associated Gram Panchayats (units of local self-Government in rural areas) with managing institutional quarantine facilities. These institutions have taken an active role in developing community awareness for adhering to physical distancing norms. The Government also brought in necessary regulations.

While Odisha’s tackling of the pandemic has been a quiet success story, there is a need to remain vigilant and sustain these efforts for many months. The leadership of communities and especially of the women of Odisha inspires confidence that the state is up to the task!

For more information, please visit : https://ndma.gov.in/en/media-public-awareness/covid-19-case-studies.html