COVID kits come as a relief for community villagers

by Team TNF

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown has had a lasting impact on the food security and nutritional needs of indigenous communities residing in the NBR. Malnutrition and anaemia are particularly high among women and young children of these communities. Though the PDS system has been a source of security for food to an extent, several problems exist. Many of the villages we work with lack access to PDS shops and many households do not have ration cards. We have supported and distributed Covid relief kits to over 6000 families so far.

Our team, with the help of our field staff and community health workers, has been keenly monitoring the status on the ground and tracking the various needs of the communities. We are actively trying to raise funds to help support the communities we work with. We have put together a list of essential items for direct distribution to the vulnerable households in all five districts (Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Erode, Nilambur and Wayanad), and urgent medical supplies that will be given to the respective district administration on a need basis.

The numbers below reflect relief support until July 2021.

Households that received food provision kits: 6106

Covid-affected families that received nutrition kits: 68

Sanitary workers who received safety and immunity booster kits: 450


Nutrition Kits

To ensure families have all essential food grains to have a balanced diet.

Food Materials for Community Kitchens

Equipping communities to grow their own vegetables.

Immunity-Boosting Tablets

To safeguard the health of sanitation workers on the ground

Distribution of Covid Relief Kits

Views on COVID Relief Kits Profits from the community

At the Chokanahalli village in Sigur, where many members of the Irula community reside, the Covid-19 pandemic came as a major blow to their livelihoods. Buying groceries and vegetables for daily needs itself became a struggle. The villagers here work in the nearby villages as farmhands for daily wages. With no transportation to go to the farms where they work and no work coming their way during the lockdown, they ran into debts trying to procure food and began worrying about how they would even pay back the debts with no jobs.

The people here have no forest rights, neither do they have easy access to water for agriculture. Farming is difficult due to the lack of water and wild animals straying into the fields. One of the members of the community, Vasantha says, “To meet our daily needs, we had to go out and earn which was not possible due to Covid and the restrictions imposed. Though people got edible rice, sugar, etc from ration shops, they struggled to get other materials like oil, vegetables, etc for cooking.” Keystone Foundation stepped in at this time with Covid relief kits. “During Covid, Keystone supported us by providing vegetables and healthy millets which not just filled our stomachs but also helped us maintain good health.”

Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI) has been supporting Keystone on its various projects like Community Wellbeing. The main goal of the initiative is to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the rural communities through improved access to financial, livelihood and other support services. During Covid, the APPI provided funds to put together and distribute Covid relief kits that had groceries, snacks, nutrition packets and masks, among others. The APPI also supported Keystone in distributing saplings and seeds to the community farmers for farming. Vasantha says, “ We got seeds from Keystone for the kitchen garden which we cultivated and had a very good harvest that’s sustaining us now. This has encouraged everyone to do agriculture. We have surplus stocks from the ragi harvest which we could use in case of more lockdowns.”

“I belong to the Kurumba community in Velaricombai. We grow coffee and pepper which is a source of income for us. We used to sell it at Aadhimalai earlier but Covid put a stop to all options of livelihood. During Covid, we got rice from the ration shop but we had no vegetables. We approached Keystone Foundation and they provided us with vegetables. Keystone also provided us with millets like ragi, saamai and thaenai,” says Janaki