Emerging Patterns for August – Part II: Longitudinal Analysis of 101 Blocks
Domain-wise Observations: Summary Findings
· The main reason for the lack of access to food and water in August is the lack of access to PDS and private ration shops because of re-imposition of lockdowns. Also, there is no distribution of free ration or food packets by the governments or NGOs and CSOs.
· Access to healthcare facilities have decreased in August in many blocks as Covid positive cases are increasing and the health infrastructure is limited.
· Credit demand is still on rise, mostly from the farmers and access to cash has worsened in the month of August as compared to previous months.
· The status and facilities for return migrants show considerable improvement in the month of August when compared to July with regards to their return, food and livelihood status.
· Income loss continues to be a significant issue across all the categories and the situation has worsened in the month of August in most of the clusters.
· Availability of work under MGNREGA shows a decline in August in most of the blocks.The demand for MGNREGA jobs is average across all the clusters.
· Social Discrimination is low inmost blocks.
The following charts present the changes in each of the domain from May to August. Each of the domain is represented by two types of charts. The first two charts (bar charts) represent the cluster averages for May, June, July and August for the respective domains. The third chart (scatter plot) shows the pattern of change, i.e., the change in the score of the blocks from May to June to July to August. In other words, it tries to track the movement of blocks in May in the range category of (1-1.25), (1.25-1.5), (1.5-1.75), (1.75-2.00), (2.00-2.25), (2.25-2.5), (2.5-2.75), (2.75-3.00), whether they show any improvement (or not) in rating in June, July and August.
I. Access to Food & Water
The overall access to food and water has increased in August as compared to July and is better than May in many of the clusters.
In some blocks in Central Uttar Pradesh and North Madhya Pradesh, the number of days for which the PDS rations shops are open has decreased. In few blocks of North Madhya Pradesh, the non-ration card holders are unable to avail ration from the PDS shops.
The blocks with an average score between 1.75 and 2.5 in May have seen an improvement. However, blocks falling under categories below and above this range seen a decline in score in the month of August.
II. Access to Healthcare Facilities
The access to healthcare facilities have worsened in most of the clusters as the Covid positive cases has been increasing.
In a block in South Jharkhand, false negative results of Covid test were reported. In a block in East Jharkhand, a doctor was found to be Covid positive and people were scared to visit the health centers after that. In North West Bihar, there are no quarantine centers and most of the patients are asked to home quarantine themselves. Anganwadi centers are shut in most of the blocks and the workers are engaged in Covid related survey or in providing door to door ration.
The blocks with the average score between 1.75 and 2.25 in May, have seen an improvement in August. The average score for the other ranges has declined.
III. Access to Cash and Credit
Access to cash and credit has decreased in most of the blocks. The rise in people availing credit is prevalent across all the states, mostly from farmers. The primary source of credit is Self Help Groups (SHGs). People also find it difficult to borrow from banks because of lack of collateral. Moneylenders are also unwilling to lend because of the uncertainty of the pandemic situation. With regard to access to cash, the primary concerns are that the banks are too crowded and there is a lack of transportation facilities.Sometimes, if a bank employee is found to be Covid positive, the bank branch shuts down for some time, and a cap is set on the withdrawal limit.
The scores have improved for the May score ranges of (1.75 to 2) and (2.25 to 2.5) and decreased for the rest of the ranges.
In South Chhattisgarh, no work is available and people are managing food from their savings. In North Chhattisgarh, no work other than agriculture is available, which is also over now with the finishing of the sowing season.
In North West Bihar, floods have limited the agricultural opportunities as well as non-farm labour opportunities. Access to food is also an issue and many have cut down on consumption as they are faced with adversity.
The livelihood status varies across clusters. In North West Bengal, agricultural labourers and small and marginal farmers have incurred substantial losses.
The South Chhattisgarh region is not heavily dependent on agriculture, but sellers are unable to sell the forest produce and daily wage labourers are also unable to find any work. In East Madhya Pradesh, the situation of small businesses and non-farm labourers has worsened.
The number of days has decreased in August for most of the clusters. The main reason for the lack of availability of MGNREGA work is the rains. The situation is better only for blocks with number of days 0 in May. Otherwise all the blocks show decrease in the average number of days available.
The MGNREGA work demand has been varies across clusters in August. In North and Central Chhattisgarh, and North West Bihar, the demand is there but people are not getting work in MGNREGA. In South Maharashtra, there is less demand because of lack of awareness among people about MGNREGA.
VI. Social Discrimination
Instances of social discrimination has decreased in almost all the clusters as the new situation has become normalized, although more and more cases are reported.
The average score has seen a decline since June and is the lowest in August as compared to the previous months.
In August, third round of data was collected for 101 blocks whose first round of data was collected in May. The table below lists the blocks grouped into 22 clusters across 9 states.