In continuation with the ongoing discussions on the Rural Realities during the pandemic around the country, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on “Rural Realities | North East Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 16, 2021.
The IMPRI team informed the discussion by locating for the event participants the situation of COVID 19 in India and North East. The team also provided an insight into the geography and Socio economic conditions of the region. The rationale was to provide the participants with an overview of the North Eastern region.
In the introductory remarks, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO & Editorial Director of IMPRI, spoke on the necessity to discuss the way rural practitioners and population were coping with the pandemic. Moreover, there was a need to focus on the way forward in tackling the pandemic.
Lack of Infrastructure & Coordination
Mrinal Gohain, National Lead Person and Regional Manager (North East), Action Aid India spoke about the lack of infrastructure in North East, and how the governments had approached NGOs and small care centers to accommodate COVID positive persons.
The next topic of his focus were the vulnerable communities. The poverty-zones/ slum-dwelling areas of cities, the disabled, refugees, street vendors, domestic workers and the tea workers were the hardest hit by the pandemic. This scenario required the government to approach these communities, catering to their varied needs.
He remarked that state governments in the region had approached the pandemic in an isolated manner. This resulted in a lack of coordination between government agencies, hampering efforts. Further, he observed that the governments focused more on urban areas than rural areas. In the latter regions, absence of governance forced the communities to deal with the pandemic themselves.
Concluding Remarks and Q & A
Regarding a question on how NGOs could alleviate their performance, especially during times of a disaster, Mr. Mrinal Gohain highlighted the information gaps that many NGOs help plug. Leakages and the bottlenecks in bureaucratic outreach can be bridged by roping in NGOs. They can help spread awareness and engage with the community in a much better way than the government agencies.