Desperate times call for desperate measures. By mid-March, Covid-19 was on the rise in India. While the number of cases still numbered less than thousand, countries were beginning to go into lockdown mode. The Tata Trusts knew that on-ground action and collaboration would be necessary to tackle the on-coming health challenge.
Affecting those who serve
The Trusts’ relief initiative ‘One Against Covid’ began in earnest as a response to the extraordinary need of the moment. It was evident right from the beginning that India’s healthcare ecosystem would be burdened beyond its capabilities. What was less apparent in those early days was how the pandemic would significantly affect the vulnerability of people belonging to marginalised and impoverished communities, especially those exposed to health risks.
With unemployment high and supply chains affected across the country, a food crisis was unfolding amidst the already-present health crisis. Frontline workers such as essential service staff, police personnel, conservancy and sanitation workers, daily waste pickers – all of these people continued to discharge their responsibilities during this crisis. They were highly susceptible to the double threats of hunger and infection. Daily wage workers in several industrial sectors were acutely affected by the shutdown. Migrant workers were stranded without jobs in different parts of the country.
Delivering health in packets
The Tata Trusts’ relief operations were already actively supporting health care efforts, providing PPE kits and testing services, etc. With an unfolding food crisis, the relief work had to change tack to cater to the altered circumstances and the most pressing needs of the moment. The Trusts combined forces with its associate organisation The India Nutrition India (TINI) to distribute packets of GoMo, the healthy ready-to-eat snack.
While ‘crunchy, munchy snack’ and ‘healthy’ may seem like a contradiction in terms, GoMo is a legume-based snack. With yellow peas as the main ingredient, the snack is rich in protein and fibre and fortified with key micronutrients. It is a ‘filling’ snack, and therefore actively addresses hunger. In addition, the micronutrients in GoMo possibly help boost the body’s immunity against the virus.
Team GoMo began their intervention by first identifying critical pockets, such as slums, construction sites, cancer treatment hospitals, migrant settlements, primitive tribal hamlets in remote parts of the country, etc. Then, they collaborated with over 35 NGO partners across nine states, and created a strategic roadmap to reach the most acutely affected.
Distribution was taken up in an efficient manner, while focusing on those beneficiaries first who required immediate intervention. This was a crucial move since food supplies were running out and government support was limited.
Team GoMo also distributed the snack to the country’s ‘Corona Warriors’ – police personnel, healthcare workers, etc., who were fighting a seemingly-insurmountable battle against the tidal wave of cases.
The reach and impact
The impact of the Trusts’ initiative can be measured from its reach, which ranges from the centre of metropolises to the heart of the hinterlands. Approximately 1.7 million GoMo crunchies were freely distributed directly to over 700,000 households in 30+ districts in nine states – Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Tamil Nadu.
This involved a massive collaborative effort, including production, supply-chain logistics, distribution, onboarding NGO partners, and securing government permissions.
Seeking out first-hand, reliable and timely information about pandemic-affected locations, the intensity in the target area, damage caused to economic activities, and details of the affected population are crucial factors in the success of any relief operation. Team GoMo and their associates managed this incredible feat. The information helped Team GoMo to reach out to vulnerable communities in busy metropolises as well as in remote areas of the country to help alleviate a little of their distress.
The overarching objective of Team GoMo was to drive a concerted effort towards the goal of helping people stay positive, while delivering nutrition to their doorsteps. The snack distribution programme was received with appreciation and gratitude. “The end-to-end support by Deepesh, Shuma and Palak from TINI-Tata Trusts team led by programme head Mansharan Seth made the relief distribution of GoMo dal crunchies happen most efficiently,” says Swati Padole from the Nagpur-based National Institute of Women, Child and Youth Development.
In Telangana, the Trusts and TINI teamed up with the NGO Nirman, to support the Covid relief work of government organisations. Commending their efforts, Divya Devarajan, Commissioner, Woman and Child Development Department, Telangana, said: “We really appreciate the support of 45,000 GoMo packets donated by the Tata Trusts during the global pandemic.”