31, Mar 2020 | CJP Team
Ever since the nationwide lockdown was announced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, CJP’s chief concern has been to ensure nobody goes to bed hungry. But, the haphazard manner in which the lockdown was announced, has led to challenges in providing relief to those in need.
We are acutely aware of how daily-wagers and other marginalized communities lead a hand-to-mouth existence is Mumbai’s low-income neighbourhoods or slums. We also want to offer help to historically exploited and marginalized communities like transgenders and sex workers. Though we found trusted partners among other human rights organisations, the lockdown led to some unexpected challenges.
The nationwide lockdown has adversely impacted the livelihood of daily-wage earners and people in low-income jobs. Families of thela wallas, taxi and auto rickshaw drivers, vegetable vendors, carpenters, scrap purchasers, delivery boys, waiters, domestic helps, people with HIV/AIDS, transgender persons, sex workers, orphans and destitute people need our urgent help to tide over the COVID crisis. CJP has partnered with several like-minded organsations to provide ration and essential supplies to over 5,000 such families across the Mumbai Metropolitan region. We urge you to donate generously so that nobody goes to bed hungry.
Dwindling supplies in wholesale markets
The manner in which the lockdown was announced and executed, made it difficult of wholesalers to replenish their supplies. This is because they depend heavily on the services of daily wage workers who work as loaders, drivers, godown maintenance staff and in sundry allied services. When these people couldn’t report to work due to the lockdown, the entire supply chain got affected.
From large government wholesale markets with cavernous godowns to store stocks, to neighbourhood kirana shops dependent of daily fresh deliveries, stocks started running out. Local retailers had anyway suffered the onslaught of bulk purchases by panicked shoppers who feared they might now be allowed to set foot out of their homes during the lockdown. For example, on March 25, when CJP acquired supplies for our first delivery to 24 daughters of sex workers who had been relocated to a safe-space by our relief partner organisation Kranti, it was the last of the supplies at the local grocery store.
Our team scouted different markets across the city to gather supplies and ensure the continuance of our relief efforts. We went from Santacruz, to Null Bazaar, to Crawford Market and eventually, were forced to take a very difficult decision.
Some hard choices
CJP had earlier planned its distribution strategy for month-long rations per identified family. However, a paucity of all contents of the designed package compelled us to truncate distribution for ten days ration per family.
The earlier package that had been designed consisted of 20kg wheat flour, 15kg rice, 3 liters of oil, 3kg sugar, 500 gms tea, 500 gms rava (semolina), 500 gms poha, turmeric, 1 packet each of turmeric, chilli powder and salt, 3 cakes of bath and washing soap each and 1 kg of washing powder. The relief package also included pulses, vegetables and other eatables depending on the availability of the same.
However, due to paucity of supplies and the need to provide relief to a larger number of families, CJP has been forced to restructure the relief package. It now contains 3kgs of rice, 2 kgs of wheat flour, 1-liter of oil, 2kgs pulses, 2kgs potato, 2 kgs onion, 2kgs sugar, 250 gms tea, 2 bars each of bathing and washing soap, and one packet each of salt and masala.
This allowed us to make deliveries to over 550 families across Kamathipura, Khar, Mangelwadi basti and Malvani. But when even supplies in these areas ran out, our team started tapping shops and markets in Navi Mumbai.
CJP Team soldiers on amidst a transport strike!
Armed with face-masks, gloves, sanitisers, high-protein sandwiches and tea in thermo-flasks, our teams spread out to acquire supplies, often walking long distances to find vendors and make purchases.
On March 30, we went to Vashi’s sprawling APMC market and made emergency purchases even as demand for relief poured in from close to 5,000 families spread across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
On March 31, the team raced against time and made some bulk purchases of essentials like rice, wheat flour, oil, washing soap, bathing soap, tea, sugar, pulses, salt and masala. The team toiled under harsh conditions, often going hungry for long periods as it is difficult to find anything to eat in far-flung parts of Navi Mumbai.
Despite these challenges, we delivered on our promise to provide rations to nearly 50 impoverished families of daily wage workers from the North East at two location; Khar Danda and Kalina. All this in the middle of a flash strike called by transporters, in wake of a government resolution to stop supply of petrol and diesel for any purpose other than essential supplies!
You can view some pictures of the CJP team on the ground here: