A. Food + Water
I-CARD focuses on three distinct but related aspects of the Covid19 / lock-down crisis for economically vulnerable groups: immediate essentials; livelihoods; and community and institutional support. These were identified based on consultations and field reports from the media, community organisations and the government. These three aspects are also separately explored for migrant workers in particular.
I-CARD identifies three categories of ‘immediate essentials’ whose absence threatens survival: food & water;healthcare; and cash & financial support.
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 set up during the lockdown for food-insecure individuals & households.
The healthcare category includes not only Covid19-related facilities but also general healthcare facilities which may be adversely affected due to focus on Covid19.
The category of cash & financial support is important because individuals & households have many essential needs besides food & water and healthcare. These needs vary considerably across individuals and typically can be fulfilled through cash or other financial means. Therefore this category is a proxy for all essential needs (partly also overlapping with food & water and healthcare, which may involve expenditures by individuals).
The negative economic impact of the lock-down on livelihoods has disproportionately fallen on economically vulnerable populations who typically work in the ‘informal sector’ in precarious and often undignified conditions. Negative impact on livelihoods can create crisis in access to essentials for survival, besides seriously impacting psychological well-being. I-CARD distinguishes livelihoods of vulnerable groups in four broad categories: marginal farmers and labour in agriculture; labour outside the agriculture sector (construction industry, etc.); craft workers; and workers in the informal service sector & those operating precarious micro-businesses. I-CARD also surveys access to work through NREGA, the government’s flagship employment guarantee scheme.
Community and Institutional Support
Widespread economic distress and restraints on mobility, especially following a pandemic, inevitably impact the social fabric. The situation can create new solidarity across individuals, groups & institutions as well as create or exacerbate conflicts. These are important because they impact not only individual and social well-being but may also affect basic security and survival. I-CARD surveys the following specific issues: social situation of migrants, healthcare workers & suspected / actual Covid patients; religion-based solidarity or conflict; other forms of conflict triggered by the distress situation, including the role of ‘fake news’; police-community relations; and role of local institutions (local governments and NGOs). Acknowledging that these are delicate matters, I-CARD seeks to gauge them in a sensitive manner. Unfortunately, some important matters such as domestic violence had to be excluded because of the difficulty in gaining credible information through the I-CARD methodology.
As the situation of migrants and recently returned migrants from economically vulnerable backgrounds has been of particular public and policy concern, I-CARD also separately surveys their situation cross-cutting the different aspects (immediate essentials, livelihoods, community and institutional support).