As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps through India, districts are being tapped by the government for timely detection and reporting of cases, and prevention. Our ‘Inside Districts’ series will feature interviews of Block-level officials, panchayat functionaries and frontline workers to understand their challenges and best practices.
The Accountability Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is currently operational in five Indian states. For part four of the series, our field staff spoke with an Anganwadi worker in Satara, Maharashtra.
The interview was originally conducted in Hindi on 1 April 2020, and has been translated.
Q: What are your COVID-19 related tasks?
Anganwadi worker: The village has been divided and I am responsible for 127 families, or about 620 people. I have to go from house-to-house, and keep tabs on their health every day. I also ask questions related to any new arrivals in the household, and monitor people who have been asked to stay home. I relay this information back to my superior.
We are also liasing with the police and panchayat. Sometimes deliver ration too.
Most of the instructions we get by the Integrated Child Development Services administration are being passed on to us via phone. The Health Department is sending us messages via WhatsApp.
Q: And have you received Personal Protective Equipment?
Anganwadi worker: I have received masks, gloves and hand sanitisers from people who had it in the village, not the department as yet.
Q: What have been your challenges?
Anganwadi worker: The number of people we are responsible for is quite a lot. We have to meet them every day.
Another challenge is convincing people, particularly young men who don’t take what we are saying seriously. They don’t listen to us.
Q: How are migrants being treated in the community?
Anganwadi worker: There seems to be discrimination. For instance, milk delivery was stopped to the house of a young man from Pune.
But, ration is being arranged for labourers who have arrived from outside and the police is helping deliver this.
Prices of essentials such as dal, vegetables, oil has shot up.