30 social workers from Partners in Anti Trafficking in North 24 Parganas and Birangana Seba Samiti in South 24 Parganas have started extensive outreach to different communities to assess damage
(a) 30 social workers from Partners in Anti Trafficking in North 24 Parganas and Birangana Seba Samiti in South 24 Parganas have started extensive outreach to different communities to assess damage, women and families who are particularly marginalised and at high risk – who should therefore be prioritised for rehabilitation support. Outreach has been challenging due to poor communication facilities, not only because of the lockdown but also because of road blockages because of fallen trees. As we’ve said before, 100% of the kuchcha houses have been destroyed or severely damaged and will need rebuilding or significant repairs. These organisations are organising the information and data and that is being centralised by Sanjog to determine the targeted beneficiaries.
(b) People are leaving flood centres out of distress. Each of these flood centres have 400-500 people, food is scarce, there is no baby food or milk, sanitation is a mess, many people are suffering from diarrhoea, getting clean fresh water is a challenge because most tubewells were swamped and contaminated.
(c) Women have started taking distress loans from local money lenders, who are charging 24 – 36% interest annually (2-3% per month). At this point, SHGs or self help groups are not functional and therefore women who are members are not being able to rely on SHGs for borrowing. Women are also distress selling jewellery that they may be wearing (earrings or bangles) which they were able to save from the cyclone.
(d) Panchayat stock of tarpaulins is about 100 to 150 whereas the need is for 2,500 – 3,000 per panchayat. In North 24 Parganas, violence has been reported in 4 Panchayats where villages have beaten up Panchayat members, gheraoed or threatened their family members. Women are trying to get the borrowed money and get hired labour to procure bamboo, tarpaulin sheets or plastic. Because the condition of the flood centres is particularly worse for women and children, they are in distress to set up some structure and return to their land or where their home used to be.
(e) Because there is no electricity, people who own generators have started charging exorbitant amounts of money to charge mobile phones. According to the latest reports, there is no possibility of electricity being restored before another couple of weeks. Mobile phones are the only way people are able to communicate and receive information updates on relief.
Sanjog fundraiser has been well received by social network of the organisational members. Funds have started trickling in. Sanjog’s Treasurer, Dora Chaudhuri, who is an expert on disaster management has taken the lead in organising logistics and transportation of materials, which should reach in a day or two. Right now, we are working on the collection and distribution points with the various community based organisations.
Tess Joseph Casting, who is one of Sanjog’s ex-board members and an award winning casting director has organised for a fundraising concert, the proceeds will be shared between Sanjog and Goonj. Thank you Tess.
Vijaya Devi, an HR professional and organisational consultant has not only contributed herself but also mobilised friends to donate. There are a few others who do not wish to be named.