The COVID-19 induced lockdown has negatively impacted the nutrition availability of women workers in Madhya Pradesh, with 57% reporting a reduced frequency of meals, a survey said. This reduction is nearly twice the number of deprived men.
Overall 88.17% women workers reported a decline in food consumption with majority of them engaged in the service sector where the loss of livelihood due to the lockdown has been the most significant, according the NGO ActionAid India, which works for child and women rights and emergency response. The group had conducted a nine-day survey in May across 26 of the 52 districts of the State and involving 782 respondents.
In Madhya Pradesh, every four in five workers had reported a loss of livelihood owing to the lockdown. “Service sector is the worst hit with 95% workers reporting losing jobs, followed by the construction sector where 81% lost jobs,” said the survey, titled ‘Workers in the time of COVID-19’.
“The worst hit demographic group is tribal women, most of whom are migrant workers. We will submit the survey to NITI Aayog advocating for policy changes to support the workers,” said Narendra Sharma, Regional Manager, ActionAid India.
Also read: Coronavirus India lockdown Day 153 updates
The survey found that consumption levels in general had reduced across the board irrespective of livelihood status.
According to the survey, only half the ration card holders could access supplies through the public distribution system. This despite the fact that 80% of workers who did not migrate had ration cards.
“More than a distribution issue, it has been about accessibility to ration and implementation of several welfare schemes during the pandemic,” said Mr. Sharma.
Homelessness has also spiked during the lockdown among workers, with 313, or 40% respondents reporting it. The survey shows that most of those who lost their livelihoods had to vacate their dwellings.
As for access to public healthcare, 67% respondents who reported that they or their family members had suffered an illness, couldn’t access medical care. The main reasons include movement restrictions and distance from hospitals, the survey noted.
The lack of work has also led to a decline in income for workers. Barring the agricultural sector, said the survey, almost all respondents across sectors reported a drop in weekly working hours post the lockdown, having an “induced effect on consumption”.
The group has recommended that panchayats register migrant workers gender-wise, and set up hostels for women near their place of work.