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06 Jul 2020

Ensuring and Improving Livelihoods During Covid-19


Covid-19 has hit rural areas hard. Existing issues faced by communities have been exasperated by the pandemic and families are being forced to stretch their already meagre incomes even further. The impending economic crisis has reduced employment opportunities in towns and cities for migrant labourers - previously a major source of income for rural families.

The number of returning migrants has been substantial and they have suddenly found themselves without work and no income, many miles away from home. Those who have already returned are looking for new ways to earn a living so they can continue to support their families.

Recent consultations held with community and Village Institution leaders have shown that many of the migrant workers are eager to remain in their villages and work for their communities, especially on protecting and restoring common land.

Seva Mandir is implementing Covid-19 relief projects that are designed in a way to directly improve people's livelihoods in a sustainable way. These projects have a multifaceted approach to cover a range of development needs, such as restoring and constructing water harvesting and clean drinking water infrastructure, rejuvenation and protection of common land, improved farming techniques and increased agricultural outputs.

For their labour to repair and construct infrastructure, community members receive a daily wage from the project's funds, as per the rate set by MNREGA. From this, a fixed percentage which has been agreed upon by workers and the Village Institution is deposited into their villages development fund, known as a Gram Vikas Kosh (GVK). This contribution ensures there is money ready to be used for maintenance, repair and other works in their community in the future.

As more than 80% of the families Seva Mandir works with practice subsistence agriculture, it is essential that they have the tools, knowledge and ability to increase their food security and their incomes. Seva Mandir is delivering training to farmers on more efficient and productive methods to cultivate crops, along with providing a variety of vegetable seeds that can provide nutritious foods and high returns at market.

Supporting rural communities in their ability to mitigate the economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis is central to Seva Mandir's response.



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