Emerging Patterns for July – Part II: Longitudinal Analysis of 133 Blocks
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Domain-wise Observations: Summary Findings
Access to food and water remains to be an issue in many blocks. One of the key factors affecting access to food is the stopping of distribution of food to the vulnerable groups in most blocks.
Access to healthcare facilities has decreased in July in many blocks.
Access to cash and credit has improved in most of the blocks.
The status and facilities for return migrants show considerable improvement in the month of July when compared to June.However, their livelihood and access to food remain an issue.
Income loss continues to be a significant issue across all the categories and the situation has not changed much from June.
Availability of work under MGNREGA shows a decline in July from May-June in most of the blocks.The demand for MGNREGA jobs also shows a slight reduction in July as compared to June.
Social Discrimination is low inmost blocks.
The following charts present the changes in each of the domain across May and June. Each of the domain is represented by two types of charts. The first two charts (bar charts) represent the cluster averages for May, June and July 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. 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 and July.
I. Access to Food & Water
Access to food and water varies across clusters. Many clusters including Southern West Bengal, Central Odisha, South Chhattisgarh, South East Bihar, Central Uttar East Maharashtra show decreased access to food in the month of July as compared to previous months. The main reason for this is the stopping of distribution of food to the vulnerable groups among other factors.
Blocks in East Uttar Pradesh and North West Bihar perform poorly in access to food and water. The ration shops were open for fewer days, people were unable to access essential commodities either because of the lockdown restrictions or because of the price rise. In blocks of Bihar, rains and floods have exacerbated the situation. In North Chhattisgarh, in many blocks the ration shops are open only 4-5 days a week. No food packets were distributed. Price of essential commodities, especially vegetables have increased.
Further, because of rise of new Covid cases, lockdown is imposed in many states due to which people are not able to access essential commodities. In South Chhattisgarh, because of lockdown restrictions in some blocks, people were unable to access private ration shops.Weekly markets also remained closed.
As the scatter plot indicates, for all blocks, the average scores have either declined or remained the same in July as compared to the scores of May and June.
II. Access to Healthcare Facilities
Access to healthcare facilities shows a decline in July over previous two months, as the number of Covid cases has been increasing in rural areas. The quarantine centersin rural blocks remain closed in most states and people migrating from other places are being asked to quarantine at their homes.
Clusters like South Odisha, North Chhattisgarh, South East and North West Bihar, Central Uttar Pradesh, South Rajasthan and South Maharashtra have fared poorer in July as compared to June. In North West and South East Bihar, because of self-quarantine, there is an imminent danger of rapid spread of Covid. There were cases where Covid positive patients were also not treated and sent back home.
In some blocks, PHCs do not have supply of medicines. ASHA and ANM workers are also reluctant to work because of lack of PPE kits and other facilities. Either people are scared to visit the hospitals, or doctors are not willing to treat patients.
From the scatter plot, it can be observed that except for the clusters with average scores between 1.75 and 2 in May, scores for all the other blocks have either declined or remained same in the month of July. Most blocks show decreased access to health in July as compared to June.
III. Access to Cash and Credit
In July, access to cash and credit has improved in some blocks while it has decreased in the blocks of North Chhattisgarh, South East and North West Bihar, West Madhya Pradesh and East Maharashtra. In blocks of North West Bihar, cases of people availing credit has increased. In some blocks, this increase is around 60- 70%. People are also facing difficulty in availing credit as moneylenders are hesitant to lend loans. There has also been an increase in availing credit in the blocks of North Chhattisgarh, mostly by farmers.
In some blocks, the banks are closed because of increase in Covid cases.In East Maharashtra, people faced difficulty in withdrawing cash from banks because of non-availability of transportation and long queues. There are instances of people not receiving cash benefit schemes.
The scatter plot shows that the scores have improved for blocks with average score below 2.5 in May and remained stagnant or declined for blocks with average score above 2.5 in May, which is indicative of the overall improvement in access to cash and credit.
The situation of migrants has improved as far as their return is concerned. But the situation remains grim regarding their livelihood and access to food. In blocks of South East and North West Bihar, floods have adversely affected the employment opportunities and has led to difficulty in accessing food. Overall there is decrease in nutritional intake among the families. In Odisha, those who have farm lands are able to cultivate, but otherwise getting a source of livelihood is an issue for the returned migrants. Across all the states, many are ready to return to cities in search of work since skilled and semi-skilled workers do not prefer to work under MGNREGA.
As can be seen from the scatter plot, the scores for all the clusters have improved for the month of July when compared to June. But for the clusters with average score greater than 2.5 in May, the average of July is still lower than that in May. This might be attributed to the fact that migrant workers have returned to their villages, but access to livelihood and food remain low.
Income loss continues to be a significant issue.Small and marginal unable to sell their produce during lockdown (in May) and still are unable to sell their produce in blocks where lockdown continues because of increasing Covid cases. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, heavy rains and hailstorms have destroyed the crops creating further losses for farmers.In parts of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan, delay in rains created problems for farmers with no other source of irrigation.Further, farmers did not have money to invest for the Kharif sowing as they could sell the produce from the previous season at low prices. Excessive or lack of rains has worsened the situation in some blocks. In Maharashtra, due to issues with soyabean seeds, farmers had to sow them twice.
A common observation on income loss for crafts workers and small business owners is that as and when block wise lockdown is imposed, they are out of work. In addition to that weekly markets, which are a major source of earnings have still not opened in most of the blocks. Also, because of lack of purchasing power amongst the people, they are less willing to spend on non-essential commodities.
The availability of work under MGNREGA was higher in the months of May, June as government focused on it as a response to the livelihood crisis for non-agricultural labourers and returned migrants. However, in July, in many blocks, the work has come to a halt, majorly because of the rains.
The chart below shows that the average number of work days available in July is lower than that in June.
The demand for MGNREGA jobs has declined in July as compared to June in most of the blocks. The reason for the initial surge in demand can be attributed to distressed unemployment. As lockdown is being lifted in many parts, migrant workers are returning to towns and cities for work, as MGNREGA wages are lower than the market wage rate.
VI. Social Discrimination
There are fewer cases of discrimination and violence because of distress, fake news and conflicts between police and community. However, in some blocks, discrimination against Muslim vendors and shopkeepers still prevails. Also cases of domestic violence against women have increased in most of the blocks.
In July, third round of data was collected for 133 blocks whose first round of data was collected in May. The table below lists the blocks grouped into 24 clusters across 9 states.