In March, we asked for help to provide emergency relief to those on the front line of the crisis in India and Nepal, in the form of food, sanitation equipment, masks and more.
The response was amazing – £200,000 was donated and, over the past two months, my team and I have been doing everything we can to respond to the most urgent needs of the communities we work with.
In all, we have been able to bring immediate relief to approximately 60,000 people; including migrant workers, single parents, children, pregnant women and others made vulnerable by the crisis.
We’re incredibly grateful for all the support, and humbled by the amazing efforts of our partners; at the same time we’re only too aware that the crisis is worsening and many more need our help now, as they will in the months, perhaps years, to come.
With rates of COVID-19 infections increasing rapidly in India and Nepal, so too is an increase in violence, discrimination, hunger and unemployment. The lockdown in India left 400 million daily wage labourers with no income, no source of food and, for many, no way home.
At least half of those are still suffering hunger and destitution, and the majority of them are Dalits, for whom manual labour work in the cities, thousands of miles from their villages, was the only choice.
These mass migrations will continue to spread the virus to even remote rural communities. For these people, proper health awareness and sanitary practices are already low and this, compounded with poverty, hugely increases their vulnerability.
That’s why we’ve increased our target to £500,000, and we will be working hard to increase our grant and trust applications, and reach out to new supporters.
My team is in daily contact with our friends and partners in India and Nepal. We’re monitoring the situation closely and responding as best we can, continuing to make emergency grants for food and medical supplies.
At the same time we’re planning what support will be needed once the crisis starts to ease, and people are able to start rebuilding their lives.
We don’t know how long the coronavirus crisis will last. What we do know is that the most vulnerable communities, particularly those we work with, will suffer the most.
As we listen to our partners in-country and navigate this crisis, we are developing a plan to ensure donations are used in the best way possible. This is still “work in progress” but at this stage these are our priorities:
Immediate Emergency Response
Our first priority is to support those directly impacted by the crisis. This includes:
- Distributing emergency supplies, food kits and sanitation equipment
- Health awareness and emergency sanitation facilities for vulnerable communities at risk from infection
- Working closely with local Governments so that emergency relief reaches the communities that most need help
- Protecting women and girls vulnerable to an increased risk of violence during the lockdown
- We will be providing additional educational support for children returning to school post-lockdown, with particular emphasis on preventing adolescent girls dropping out due to increased pressure on livelihoods.
Rebuilding Gender Equality
- By providing support and counselling for women and girls from families disproportionately affected by the crisis, we will be ensuring as many women as possible are protected from violence and trafficking as a result of reduced family incomes. For these girls, ensuring their return to school is not just essential, it is life-saving.
- The loss of livelihoods and income with millions of men returning home will massively increase economic hardship for those already in poverty. By focusing on developing new livelihoods and improved conditions for daily wage labourers in marginalised communities, we will support them to achieve greater family security and improved opportunities for health and education.
Global Cooperation, Collective Vulnerability
We’re very aware that this is a global crisis, affecting all of us in different ways. We know that many of you are having to deal with the impacts in your own lives – as we are at Karuna. At the same time we are determined to do everything we can to meet the increasing needs in India and Nepal, and we can do so only because of your support. Thank you.
With thanks and best wishes,
Head of Programmes