Recent outbreak of coronavirus in India has not only paralysed the economy but has also put the most vulnerable at risk of getting infected. The living conditions of slum communities in India are characterised by sub-optimal housing and high population density. The public healthcare infrastructure of India is weak which doubles the challenge for the most vulnerable.
UHRC team members have developed COVID 19 prevention messages in local language (Hindi) and are transmitting to the slum communities via WhatsApp and Facebook, the most used social media platforms by slum families. The messages are being reinforced periodically to remind the community about following these preventive behaviours.
Key messages are:
Washing hands aggresively using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Avoid touching hands, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid shaking hands while greeting someone. Fold hands while greeting.
Use your forearm to cover the mouth while sneezing or coughing.
Stay at home as much as possible. Avoid stepping out unless absolutely necessary.
Avoid touching face and mouth with unwashed hands
Greet people with folded hands
Cover mouth with elbow while coughing and sneezing
Indian cities are growing with modern buildings, infrastructure for the wealthier residents. The urban poor living largely in slums are most vulnerable to climate change. For sustainability and mitigating climate change effect and towards inclusiveness envisaged in Sustainable Development Goals, greening of slums is essential.
UHRC team motivated slum communities to plant trees. We provided saplings to slum families. Children and women were most enthused and managed to grow saplings in the small spaces in their neighbourhoods such as the backyard of their houses and tended them with care.
Small trees have sprouted in slums which is essential for a) reducing carbon dioxide: b) reducing ambient temperatures; c) providing a feeling of well-being and satisfaction among slum families.
Slum women showing small plants to be grown
A lady digs pit for plants to be grown
A slum youth plants a tree in his neighborhood
Women of a family planting together with smiles
Daughter and father happily plant sapling together
A street play on segregation of wet and dry waste at household level and in market place was performed by slum children, youth and UHRC team members at GirgaonChowpaty (beach) in Mumbai.
Wet and dry waste should be segregated at the household itself. This enables its correct disposal and reduces piles of mixed waste.
Wet waste such as or kitchen waste from peeling, cutting of vegetables and other food waste can be used for composting and can turn into valuable manure.
Dry waste is mostly mixed waste including plastic. This needs proper disposal and further segregation to be appropriately managed at the waste management plant.
Slum youth emphasised the importance of responsibility of each citizen for proper disposal of waste to help move towards a cleaner environment.
Activities like these are instrumental in nurturing self-expression of slum youth and children as they overcome hesitation in expressing their ideas in public places. They also play a role in inculcating behaviour change among slum dwellers to segregate waste in their daily routine.
A regular sight for slum youth - garbage in lanes
Slum Youth express the need to segregate waste
Behavior change visible in daily practice in slums
As per the recent report of World Resource Institute (WRI), an international think tank, India has been alarmingly ranked 13th on water stress index. With increasing urbanization and population growth, urban cities put tumultuous pressure on resources. Water, as we know it is the most precious resource and is increasingly facing crisis. This crisis calls for assiduous steps to be taken immediately in the interest of our future generations
UHRC stimulates children from slums to think and promote simple steps in conserving water. Children are motivated to express their ideas five points of action which can be put in practice on saving water. They discuss their points of action among themselves. Activities like these sensitise young minds to the burgeoning crisis of water and promote simple steps which can be implemented with this effort towards behaviour change.
India is on a brink of water crisis. Government of India’s policy think tank, NITI Ayog’s 2018 report states that nearly 600 million Indians faced high to extreme water stress during 2017. For a very large proportion of underprivileged population, getting adequate water for fulfilling basic needs is a daily struggle.
On World Environment Day 2019, basti (slum) women, youth and children of Agra and Indore carried out an awareness campaign to encourage people to conserve water. Messages conveying practical ways of saving water were disseminated through pictorial placards and banners. Some of the messages were:
Life is dependent on water, it is the collective responsibility of all to use it judiciously
Save every drop by closing the flowing tap after use. A flowing tap can waste up to 90 litres of water in a week;
Do not let water to flow when not needed. Open the tap as less as needed to save water.
The campaign saw active participation from UHRC mentored women’s groups and adolescent girls from bastis who often in a male dominated society do not step out from their homes. Basti children lent their energy by chanting slogans on the importance of saving water.
Slum women spread message to save water in Indore
Slum children spread messages through placards
Adolescent girls spread message to save water
Women and children enthusiastically spread message
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