Emerging Patterns for July – Part I: Cross-sectional Analysis of 419 Blocks
Updated: Aug 20
Below is a snapshot of emerging patterns for issue-domains and clusters of blocks across 9 states. Details of clusters are given in the Appendix.
The following table indicates the names of clusters that need interventions in the respective domains.
The following charts present averages for each cluster, by domain.
(Please note: In the following charts, different colours (for bars) are used to represent different states, these colours do not have any other significance.)
The scores range on a scale from 1 to 3, with 1 indicating Low to 3 indicating High.
I. Access to Food & Water
The chart below gives the average availability and access to water and food. The food category includes access to the subsidized Public Distribution System (PDS) for food grains & cooking oil and also private distributors. It also explicitly looks at special distribution facilities for those who are food-insecure.
The most important change with regards to food and water accessibility is the halting of food distribution to the vulnerable population and the migrants in most of the blocks. All the clusters have a score lower than 2 for the issue of food distribution.
II. Access to Healthcare Facilities
The healthcare category includes not only Covid19-related facilities but also general healthcare operations (health centres, functioning of and ASHA and ANM workers) which may be adversely affected due to focus on Covid19.
Most blocks still do not have facilities to treat Covid positive patients. They are mostly taken to the district health center. The accessibility of basic medical needs is mixed in different blocks. In some blocks, people are still unable to access basic medical needs due to fear on the part of the people, refusal by doctors to look at patients or lack of health centers within the block periphery.
III. Access to Cash and Credit
This category is important because households have many essential needs besides food & water and healthcare. These needs vary considerably across individuals and typically can be fulfilled through liquidity (cash or other financial means). Therefore this category proxies essential needs (partly also overlapping with food & water and healthcare). Liquidity is measured through ability to withdraw cash from own account and access to credit & government cash benefits.
The difficulty in accessing cash from banks due to long queues and transportation problems exist in many blocks.
We explore the situation of out-migrants, returned migrants and in-migrants (from the perspective of a block or cluster). For out-migrants we focus on ability to return; for returned migrants the focus is on food and income source; for in-migrants the focus is food, shelter and income source. The graph below is for returning migrants.
Most of the migrants who were willing to return have returned. Those who have not returned have stayed back in their place of work. In some blocks, the migrants have also started to return to cities in search of employment as the lockdown is gradually being lifted in many states.
For food, the migrants are dependent on PDS and savings, as food packet distribution has stopped in most of the blocks. As far as livelihood is concerned, MGNREGA is a major source of employment,however,work under MGNREGA for the month of July has decreased in many blocks as compared to May and June. The main reason for this is the difficulty in carrying out the works during rains.
We focus on income loss for four broad livelihood categories for vulnerable groups: marginal farmers and labour in agriculture; labour outside the agriculture sector; craft workers; and workers in the informal service sector & those operating precarious micro-businesses.
Some small and marginal farmers do not have savings to invest for the Kharif sowing as the earnings from previous season was hit due to lockdown. The situation has marginally improved for craft workers and self-employed as the lockdown is relaxed in many states. However, their livelihood still suffers as people are less willing to spend on anything which is non-essential. The situation of non agricultural wage labouris better in blocks where MGNREGA is functioning well or lockdown rules are relaxed.
We also separately explored access to work through NREGA, the government’s flagship employment guarantee scheme (comparing present situation with the pre-Covid situation and also gauging excess demand).
The initial spike in the number of days of employment under MGNREGA in May and June has declined majorly because of the rains. The average increase in MGNREGA work demand has also decreased. There can be two major reasons for this. First, the initial spike in demand may be due to distressed demand, which has gradually decreased now. Second, as lock-down restrictions are being relaxed in many blocks, workers are returning to cities, looking for other works in the search of better wages.
VI. Social Discrimination
Economic distress and restraints on mobility can impact security, social relations and well-being. We explore the following issues: social situation of migrants, healthcare workers & suspected / actual Covid patients; religion-based tensions; other forms of conflict triggered by the distress situation, including the role of ‘fake news’.
There are fewer reported cases of social discrimination now. However, increased cases of domestic violence have been reported in many blocks.
In July, I-CARD covered 419 blocks across 9 states. The blocks are grouped into 30 clusters based on geographical location, contiguity and development history focusing on the presence of vulnerable groups and significant rural population.