When everyone around the world were trying to accept and conform to the “new normal”, people in the project locations where FADV works, were struggling to fight for survival owing to food and livelihood insecurity resulting from the lockdown. Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, life was devastated for the people belonging to marginalized communities in West Bengal due to Cyclone Amphan. For the people facing AMPHAN amidst fear of COVID-19, left the lives of thousands with a bleak future. About 17000 people were affected in the area. These families eke out their living from fishing, farming, and collecting honey from the forest and as daily wage labours. Their houses were reduced to mud in the rain and the storm. They had taken shelter in government relief camps and other safe places. The villages remained flooded for more than 2 weeks.
With this backdrop, FADV’s emergency response initiative named Sustaining Lives supported 3798 families in 57 villages under 10 Districts in West Bengal and Assam. Under this initiative, the families were supported with the distribution of food materials like rice, potatoes, onions, gram flour, lentils, soya chunks, wheat flour, Puffed rice, peanuts, and gram. Apart from this, hygiene kits were provided to the families containing soaps, detergent powder, sanitizers, disinfectant liquid, and sanitary napkins for adolescent girls. 16705 masks were distributed among the families.
174 awareness sessions were conducted across 10 Districts on preventive measures to be adopted to prevent COVID-19, focusing on proper handwashing techniques and proper use of masks. Information Education Communication (IEC) materials were displayed in the villages on preventive methods of COVID-19. The teachers of the learning centres who are the first contact persons for the children and their families in the villages were provided virtual training to support the families and children to address mental distress and trauma. The teachers have been conducting home visits every week to support children in their studies and to provide psycho-social support to the families and children. As a part of this support, the teachers engaged the children in activities like craft, drawing, and gardening.
This emergency response initiative was planned in two phases. The first phase ended in July and the second phase started from August onwards, under which education of children has been focused through worksheets apart from the distribution of food, hygiene kit, and education materials.