The multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent socio-economic distress have affected everyone in more ways than one. The impact has been acute for marginalised communities who had to suffer a loss of livelihoods and incomes. Countless families returned from cities and urban areas to their native villages, only to find continued vulnerabilities.
There are several social security schemes for people living in poverty and exclusion from the Central and State Governments. These include pension schemes for widows, persons with disability and the elderly; Ayushman Bharat for health-related support; Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for monthly rations; Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for guaranteed rural employment; and Central and State-sponsored scholarship schemes for educational assistance to students.However, due to a lack of information about these schemes and the application or enrolment process, several eligible community members have not been able to access these benefits.
In March, ActionAid Association launched a door-to-door outreach campaign to create awareness among communities on the various social security schemes and enable people’s access to those. Titled ‘Sarkari Yojna, Samajik Suraksha, Sab Haq Hamara’, this drive runs in 800 villages and urban locations across Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi NCR. So far, nearly 60,000 people have been reached out through awareness-building activities. In addition, we supported around 15,000 individuals to apply for the various social protection schemes during facilitation camps we organised across these villages. The campaign aims to reach out to at least one million people with information and support for applying for these schemes.
We are also working towards creating community-level volunteers to take our efforts forward in their villages. As part of this campaign, we published a booklet with details about the schemes available in their state for sharing with Gram Sabhas and community leaders.
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