While the efforts taken by the Government to prevent and control community outbreak of COVID-19 are commendable, the impact of this crisis on the underprivileged families and their children is a huge concern. As India fights against the COVID-19 pandemic, families in villages and urban slums are struggling to get food, basic hygiene items, clean water and healthcare. In response to this pandemic, though many NGOs, institutions and corporates have come forward to extend support there is an urgent need to scale these efforts to help ensure that vulnerable communities have adequate resources and clear guidance on how to keep themselves safe.
ChildFund India, through its response efforts, will support nearly 2,50,000 people across the country, over the next 3 months and scale up in the next few months towards rehabilitation. In the last couple of weeks, ChildFund has already distributed basic hygiene and sanitation items to more than 16,000 people, Arts and crafts material to nearly 5,000 children for their home-based learning and play activities and spread awareness amongst thousands of people on prevention and management of COVID-19 through dissemination of Information, Education and Communication materials. ChildFund is initiating distribution of food baskets and hygiene kits to most vulnerable families to ensure food security and family safety. ChildFund has ensured safety of Frontline Workers and they are working closely with the local district administration.
As per its rehabilitation strategy, ChildFund is working on different possibilities of recovery and rehabilitation interventions, especially, Psychosocial support to children and education continuity at the home settings by providing them with story books, Arts and Sports items. ChildFund will support in restoring livelihoods of vulnerable families and initiate WASH (Water and Sanitation, Hygiene) interventions to increase hygiene practices for sustainable results.
Following the guidelines by the Government of India, ChildFund India is taking appropriate and proactive steps to protect children, communities, its partners at the grassroots and staff from this Global Pandemic of COVID-19, in 15 states across the country where it operates. ChildFund has launched its response to fight the COVID-19 crisis on national level, which is being approached in 2 Phases. The 1st Phase focuses on providing Relief support and the 2nd Phase emphasizes on Rehabilitation of the affected families.
As part of its initial response, ChildFund is collaborating with community leaders and local authorities to ensure only correct and adequate information regarding COVID-19 is reaching the communities to reduce panic, supporting Government by tracking people with relevant travel history in their locations & advising returnees to self-quarantine. If any child is suspected to be infected with COVID-19, required support is being provided to the family. Field staff are providing remote educational support to children and youth through online apps and telecommunication amid this crisis and connecting families with government schemes related to this emergency.
Advocating for protection of the most vulnerable children in the COVID-19 response, while lauding the steps taken by the Government of India, on 25th March, 2020, ChildFund India along with other 5 leading child development organizations, who have together formed an Alliance named as Joining Forces For Children – India, has shared a joint appeal addressed to Hon’ble Prime Minister of India with a copy to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Finance, NITI Aayog, and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) with a fervent request on behalf of the vulnerable children of India to:
- Prioritize and identify the most vulnerable and at risk children for prevention and response interventions
- Provide uninterrupted access to critical services for the most vulnerable children and their families
- Provide child-friendly outreach messages
- Protect children in child care institutions
- Prevent separation and stigma of child and caregiver
- Scale-up investment in child protection system strengthening
“India and rest of the world is in a grave situation. A large part of the population we serve is the migrant population in both urban and rural settings, which is the most affected section of the society in today’s scenario. We’re working hard to provide support to these vulnerable families, their children and the communities at large who are in desperate need of the lifesaving support. As you know the need is large and resources limited, we need support to reach as many families as possible with our response. Every preventive action helps and every one of us can make a difference to stop the spread of this virus. In such conditions, children are affected the most. ChildFund is proud to be a part of the Joining Forces For Children – India alliance, which is committed to extend its support to the Government of India in this time of national crisis and to serve the best interests of children. Through the appeal, submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office and other government offices, we are trying to ensure that the well-being of the most vulnerable children is not compromised. The only solution is to stand in solidarity, collaborate and fight this back”, shared Neelam Makhijani, Country Director and CEO of ChildFund India.
(Joint Appeal by Joining Forces For Children – India to PMO and photos of the COVID-19 response attached)