Index > Sponsorship for Overseas Child - Social Vulnerability to Disasters
 
  Social Vulnerability to Disasters
2020/08/19 | editor
 

★Photo by ARUP

Under the impact of COVID-19, India is facing more difficult socio-economic challenges. The most severely affected ethnic groups are the indigenous people who were already in a disadvantaged social position, as well as women and children of lower castes. According to UNICEF, malnutrition has caused 69% of deaths among children under 5 in India, and 57% are indigenous children. Nowadays, there are still severe child malnutrition and food shortages everywhere.

Baby Survival and Life Safety of Pregnant Women

With 8.14 million indigenous people, Odisha is the province with the highest proportion of indigenous people in India. The human development indicator of Odisha in 2011 was 0.362, which is far lower than the whole India (0.467); 40% of the local children under 5 years old is underweight.

 

"At present, the government only subsidizes a few people with a little rice, and the local village chief only provides meals for a few days. What about children and babies? My one-year-old grandson can only survive on rice water." -An elderly indigenous lady, Dholkatha

 

"We are even struggling for a full meal every day for our kids. I have not visited hospital after my 3-month pregnancy check-up. I am really scared and confused, how and where I will deliver my child." -- Namita who is 8 months pregnant

Recording the nutrition and health status of local women in rural areas
Recording the nutrition and health status of local women in rural areas

The Mustard Seed Mission and our local working partners saw the deterioration of the health and nutritional status of indigenous children and pregnant women, we decided to go to the villages in Cuttack and Kendrapada. [Footnote 1] Especially during the epidemic, we try to learn more about children's learning and nutritional intake, and medical treatment and dietary status of pregnant women in each household. We also see the additional problems brought by the epidemic: the workload of women’s housework has increased continuously, and violence has also increased among women and children.

It takes 2.5-hour walk to reach the nearest town

In Bada Pokhari village, Cuttack, it is 16 km away from the nearest town, Choudwar. Without public transportation, people can only rely on bikes and legs to go somewhere. It takes 2.5 hours to reach the nearest town by walking. Therefore, our local partners went and spread love to the villages in need, distributed maternal health packs, baby food packs and educational stationery packs, with a total of 148 families in need received the supplies.

Local House
Local House
 
Baby food pack
Baby food pack
 
Maternal health packs
Maternal health packs

Population structure, lack of schools and medical resources

About 95% of the residents of this village are indigenous, and a few are of lower castes. There is only one elementary school and two child care centers in the village. [Footnote 2] The junior high school and high school are located in a town 16 kilometers away. According to statistics in 2011, the literacy rate was only 46.3%, far lower than 72.87% in Odisha province., the female literacy rate is only 30.58%.

There is no health medical station in the village, and medical services are only provided in the town. The more serious problem is the basic daily drinking water. There is no tap water pipeline in the village, let alone a convenient tap. The residents of the village can only rely on one well for drinking water.

Local House
Local House

Livelihood restrictions

Due to the existing prejudice against indigenous people and lower castes, and the dual restrictions of low education, 90% of villagers do not own their own land and can only work as agricultural workers in the informal economy or as non-skilled migrant workers in other provinces. About 55% of households work without a stable income of livelihood.

After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in March, migrant workers working in other provinces rushed back to their hometown. Their meager saving has been used up as travel expenses, and there is no extra money to improve the family's finance, and they fall into another dilemmas.

"When the epidemic began, schools and child care centers were closed. The childcare centers used to provide food to the children in need to supplement their nutrients, but now the closure has no end in sight. Children's learning is stagnant. Public schools do not provide online or TV teaching courses; even if the teaching is on cable, families in the village do not have the equipment to participate in the courses." -Local worker Chintu said.

Women, girls and children in rural areas of India receiving relief supplies
Women, girls and children in rural areas of India receiving relief supplies
 
Children's stationery packs
Children's stationery packs

Resilience of life

When it comes to the issues like the epidemic and personal safety in impoverished areas overseas, it is like sailing in the vast ocean of unknown channels. But in one early morning of August, we heard a good news. Namita, who was first anxious about whether she could give birth successfully, has given birth to a baby girl. Although the village is still facing health care and nutritional deficiencies in women and children, seeing this little life striving to survive is like drawing a clearly visible channel in the sea, so that we can continue to move forward.

Indian children who study hard in difficult circumstances
Indian children who study hard in difficult circumstances

For a long time, the Mustard Seed Mission serves disadvantaged families facing survival difficulties in India, providing emergency rescue basic food and sanitary supplies to save them from hunger and lack of supplies, and support them to survive.


[Footnote 1] Cuttack and Kendrapada regions each have three major indigenous peoples including Shabar, Munda, Saora and Santhal, Shabar, and Munda.

[Footnote 2] The Indian government began to set up childcare centers (Anganwadi) in rural areas in 1975, which provide integrated child development services to solve the problems of child hunger and malnutrition, and also provide simple health care. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anganwadi

 


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你要盡心、盡性、盡 意、盡力愛主 ─ 你的神。其次就是說:要愛人如己。(馬可福音12章30-31節)

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)

 

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