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Updated: Jun 27, 2021

“The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis: it is affecting societies and econ­omies at their core. While the impact of the pandemic may vary across the population, it will most likely increase poverty and inequalities” This premise seems the most realistic of all the other impending risks that are doing the rounds today.

Sadly the people worst impacted are those who even in normal circumstances find it difficult to make ends meet thus the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions have only added to the already strangle hold that poverty has on these human lives.

CAISS was set up to help those of the community who find themselves living in difficult circumstances but today with the pandemic the situation has just gotten worse manifold times over.

With the lock downs which have become part of parcel of daily life and the kind of prevention norms in place jobs which were considered necessary and basic have almost been wiped out and have been replaced with less labour intensive options.

The community in Kolkata has found the lack of options to be telling as jobs like sales, hospitality, travel, door to door services, work at restaurants and even house hold jobs have all been restricted due to the social distancing and infections transmission protocols in place. This coupled with the absence of cheap and safe public transport only amplifies the difficulty to access gainful employment.

A rough assessment of the 350 families we assist indicates that around 70% of these families have been severally impacted due to the loss of jobs and livelihoods. Of the balance 30% monthly incomes has been impacted substantially again rough estimates assessed by us point at almost a 40% – 50% of a reduction in family income. This is the most serious of the difficulties as persons who were able to take care of basic expenses now find even house rent difficult to pay. Medical needs are going through the roof and the fear and costs of medical expenses of treatment are daunting.

We would be looking to assist a minimum of 50 families with compensatory incomes for a year or so to tide over the crisis or till we can find alternative employment for them and another 50 families we would look at assisting with an alternative sustainable income initiative so that they could help themselves into the future. This could be setting up self employment initiatives for them with micro credit. All of this is dependent on the funds we are able to access. We would like to look at this as a self sufficiency and economic sustainability programme.

Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our community and more so the vulnerable group within our community is fundamental to inform and tailor our responses to ensure that no one is left behind in this effort.

Without an urgent sustainable socio-eco­nomic response, this suffering will escalate, jeopardizing lives and livelihoods for years to come. Our immediate responses in this crisis must be undertaken with an eye to the future. Care and development trajectories in the long-term will be affected by the choices we make now and the support the vulnerable receive.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, the socio-economic response will be one of the most important additions to our already holistic programme. We are floundering and the choices are limited and will depend on the financial implications and the amount of funds we are able to raise for the purpose thereafter putting our finger on the most effective options.

We at CAISS must respond appropriately. Our current work with the most vulnerable of the community i.e. our work with the seniors and children must continue but we must find an optional income for those who have been affected by the pandemic and its effects. This will be an additional programme to our already full plate but if we don’t put ourselves to the task now we will be headed for an impending crisis with the most economically productive section of our community.

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