Post COVID scenario for rural and forest dwellers
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
What we see?
The post COVID world would be build on the ideas of - 1. Social Distancing 2. Isolation 3. Quarantine 4. Suspectful of Viral Diseases 5. Individualistic. These words have been shared across the board - 1. Whatsapp messages 2. Newspapers 3. Electronic Media 4. Facebook posts 5. Advertising world. The consistent reinforcement has brought a sense of acceptance and adherence. As majority of the population lives with these ideas it is going to be interesting times going forward.
Such practices would bring in elements of modern day living which promotes individualisation. The people would attempt to protect the self leading to self care , introvert behaviour, judging efficacy at hygiene of others, evaluating service quality via the sanitation lens etc. Where does this leave the roadside vendor? Or the innumerable sellers who visit our colonies, housing societies, by-lanes etc every day? It is interesting to observe that the provision for Work From Home for professionals from different sectors has also led to an abrupt end to the innumerable conversations that happen among people (professionals and roadside vendors/rickshaw pullers).
Rural and Forest Dwellers
The connections that are being redefined in the social ecosystem are also laying down the guidelines for other ecosystems as well. The rural communities and forest dwellers who are at a distance from the urban agglomerations and have limited exposure would experience an impact as well. The limited interaction with these ecosystems that was fuelling a livelihood and remunerative engagement has had an abrupt end. The inability of these people to interpret and adapt to the modern practices amidst this COVID and post COVID scenarios could shape the future for generations.
Forest and rural communities are yet to get acquainted to the swift and quick change in policy, action and service. Disasters like COVID render them helpless as they grapple to respond to such scenarios. The prevalence of relevant education in order to understand such situations is starkly missing. In addition to the limited health and safety provisions that systems have ensured for people in these areas. There is a general presumption that these people physically distant from the urban areas 'may not' or 'will not' get impacted. The physical distance in case of 'Viral diseases' is irrelevant. Since there is significant inter and intra movement of external resources and individuals to and fro.
POST COVID Scenario
In a post COVID world the rural and forest dwellers would be facing some key issues :
Lack of information around COVID, the nature of disease, treatment, vaccines.
Inability to get back on with livelihood after suffering a severe loss in incomes.
Loss of assets in order to manage cost of living that has accumulated during the lockdown period.
Due to unavailability of fodder for livestock and seasonal movement threatened it is a challenge going forward to sustain cattle health. Loss of produce (milk etc) is causing a challenge on an immediate basis.
The post COVID world order throws possibilities for the systems and development organisations to look at developing capacities around these challenges. The challenge is to integrate community knowledge as part of the response and long term solutions which we are working on. Developing community understanding and leadership to address the knowledge gaps and plan a sustainable future.
Samanta Foundation has built a Risk Reduction & Response approach for the Van Gujjars and Taungyas (communities we work for) in our region of work. We intend to work with the Community Youth, Children and Women through our existing work of Whole School Transformation. We are looking at developing capacities, sharing knowledge, introducing technology, community leadership to develop community systems such as -
Awareness and provisioning for resources for Sustainable Health - especially women, children and adolescent health.
Community Radio (CoR) & News Readers/Touch Points (NR/NTPs)
Community Learning Centre (CoLC)
Enabling supplemental livelihood opportunities through Community Participation and supporting livestock challenges in near future
Also the issue of bringing about resources in order to accomplish implementation is huge. As we observe the focus of institutions and systems among populations who are in physical proximity and have an appeal. By way of appeal we refer to the visibility in electronic and print media and which serves the interests of the industrial world. We aim to work to ensure that appropriate and enough resources are also routed towards work among the rural and forest dwelling.