More than a year ago, as the world was grappling with the beginning of an unprecedented global pandemic, we at PCI India were one of the pioneers to quickly have addressed this critical situation and serve the unreached, the most marginalized. As an early starter, we piggybacked the existing programs and interventions and centered the pandemic response strategies around the most affected.
We have been striving to foster health, well-being, livelihood opportunities, nutrition, and gender equality among India’s poor and the impoverished for two decades now. In times of this unprecedented global pandemic, it became imperative to protect the communities we have been serving, ensure that there is no decline in the progress made and break the chain of the COVID19 transmission. This was also a pivotal year for PCI India to analyse the aftermath of this global health emergency, build resilience among the communities, and support the states in taking disaster risk reduction measures.
Risk communication and community engagement were the first and foremost strategies adopted by PCI India to reduce transmission and limit the spread of COVID19 in multiple intervention states. We harnessed the existing channels and community platforms like Self Help Groups (SHG) to disseminate messages around the virus, its prevention, and control measures to accomplish this objective. Diversified behavior change communication products were developed, ranging from preventive messages, audio-visuals, jingles etc. and disseminated to the communities using the government channels and platforms.
We did not close the loop of reach in the community alone and ensured that state systems were strengthened enough to remain agile and adaptive to this situation. Our technical expertise was extended to many state governments to develop varied COVID19 training modules and FAQs for the government staff, cadres and health workers. Our virtual capacity building modules for the health officials were so well received that it was scaled up across Uttar Pradesh after its successful implementation in Bihar. Soon after, we also extended our assistance to the Ministry of Rural Development to build the capacity of all the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) state staff and cadres around COVID19.
Though the immediate concern was human life and health, loss of jobs and ceased livelihood opportunities were parallelly creating another economic disaster. The national and state governments had put quick and concerted efforts to create employment opportunities for the poor migrants and other financially backward communities. New social protection schemes were launched, which needed amplification to ensure that the targeted people benefit from it. With this vision, as a part of a consortium, PCI India is supporting the Government of Uttar Pradesh in designing and strategizing its social protection schemes and connecting the underserved population with these schemes. We did not stop at this; we leveraged all opportunities to increase livelihood security measures. With JEEViKA in Bihar, we got into a venturesome drive that could give a chance to the SHG members for income generation, particularly the individuals who lost revenue-earning avenues during the pandemic. We upheld SHGs in Bihar to foster reusable masks and circulate them among networks. The SHGs were given proper direction on the best way to learn mask making procedures, and marketing measures were adopted to ensure 100% sale of those produced masks.
From active engagement threads with multi-stakeholders to restricted field movement, tracking the impact of COVID19 on our communities was an uphill task. Since then, our CML team has been putting unending efforts to recurrently generate ground insights, reflect on the current situation, synthesize lessons learned and support the development of strategies for the future. And recently, a rapid barrier analysis study was conducted to understand the immediate sense of COVID19 vaccine eagerness, hesitancy, and refusal in the rural part of Bihar.