‘Communities not able to access entitlements during lockdown’

Communities have not been able to access their entitlements and not all know what precautions to take during the lockdown, according to a survey by IIM Ahmedabad.

Madhukar Shukla and MS Sriram of IIM Ahmedabad conducted a survey of nearly 70 civil society leaders, conducted between 3rd to 10th May 2020 points to the urgent need for greater coordination between government and civil society.

“Communities have not been able to access their entitlements and not all know what precautions to take,” the survey said.

As per the survey, more than 40 per cent found that most households in the communities are not being able to access their entitlements and more than 20 per cent found that communities were not aware of precautions required. It is even higher among smaller organizations.

The survey found that organisations have not been able to partner with the government productively. Almost half the leaders did not find relevant government functionaries they need to work with on the ground, to be accessible.

More than two-thirds felt that those making policies were not very receptive to their inputs. Accessibility to government officials was even lower for those working in only rural areas and for smaller organisations.

Responses of only around 10 per cent of organisations indicate that they’re involved in efforts directly with the government and more than 40 per cent said coordinating with the government for their work was one of the biggest challenges they were facing.

“Government notifications and directives have been confusing/difficult to understand: Almost half the leaders have had difficulty navigating through government directives relevant for their work,” the survey said.

Mobilising financial resources for relief efforts is taking up all their time, the survey found. Mobilising financial resources was found to be the most time-consuming activity and one the biggest challenges that almost 60 per cent of organisations reported to be facing.

A significant share of these finances required might be for the independent relief efforts (without any help from the government) that half the organisations reported as taking up most of their time.

The survey found that civil society leaders worry about donors deprioritising other on-going long-term efforts.

Several leaders shared their anxieties about critical areas of interventions such as malnutrition, education, domestic violence, child abuse, and women’s rights issues being side-lined or at least deprioritised (by the government and donors).

This, many felt, would undermine years of collective efforts and progress. Over a quarter reported that re-planning their activities, and coordination and communication with funders was taking up most of their time.

The recommendations by civil society include involving local stakeholders such as local governments and community organisations to manage smaller geographies (like wards or zones in urban areas).

In addition, extending financial and food related support to the affected (especially migrants and daily wagers) through universalisation of PDS, financial relief to small traders and farmers and providing immediate employment to those in rural areas through MNREGA.