New Delhi: A survey conducted to gather the experiences of 66 civil society leaders working during the Covid-19 crisis in India has found that “very few” households in the communities they served were able to access government entitlements.
Conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, the survey was held from 3 to 10 May. It was aimed at gauging the experiences and perceptions of leaders from organisations of varying sizes and working in diverse geographies across the country.
Almost half of the leaders, the survey included, have also claimed that relevant government functionaries were not accessible or open to constructive inputs.
Altogether 66 leaders from 64 organisations had participated in the survey, which was led by Ankur Sarin and his team from IIM-A.
Some of the organisations involved were Aga Khan Foundation, Srijan Foundation, BCF India, Gram Swara, Child in Need Institute (CINI), Development Agency for Poor and Tribal Awakening (DAPTA), Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (DISHA) etc.
The leaders were invited to share their responses of working during the pandemic, challenges faced by beneficiary communities and engagement with government functionaries.
Communities unaware of precautions, rights
More than 40 per cent of the leaders who took part in the survey said most households in the communities they served were unable to access government entitlements. Another 20 per cent said communities were not aware of precautions needed to tackle the pandemic.
On the question of accessibility to government functionaries they needed to work with, almost half of the leaders indicated they were not able to partner with authorities productively.
“Around 45 per cent felt that ‘almost none’ or ‘very few’ government functionaries were accessible and open to suggestions, most others felt only a ‘few’ functionaries were accessible,” the survey notes.
Around 45 per cent of the leaders also said government directives were not clear for them to be able to work effectively.
Over 70 per cent said policymakers were “not at all” or “to a very limited extent” open to their feedback and suggestions during the crisis. More than 75 per cent of the surveyed organisations, who are working in rural areas, found that policy makers were “unreceptive”.
Challenges during relief work
When asked about the most significant challenges faced on the ground, over 60 per cent of the leaders felt that restrictions on mobility of their staff involved in relief work was a significant hurdle. While 45 per cent also felt that coordinating with the government was challenging.
The organisations they worked for also highlighted that mobilising financial resources (about 55 per cent) and engaging in relief efforts independent of government programmes as well as other schemes (about 50 per cent) have taken most of their time during the pandemic.
The report also emphasised on suggestions involving universalisation of PDS, including local governments and community organisations for management of smaller geographical areas and easing up on funding regulations.
Out of the 64 organisations that participated in this survey, 50 per cent are catering to rural areas, 20 per cent to urban, while 30 percent to both rural and urban areas.