Organize Volunteer Activities for Supplier-Consumer Management during Covid-19 Epidemic

Organize Volunteer Activities for Supplier-Consumer Management during Covid-19 Epidemic

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Rituparna Borah started this petition to Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma (Health and Family Welfare Minister, Assam) and

Assam reported its first Covid-19 case on 31st March, 2020, much later than many other regions of India. I commend the State Health and Family Welfare Ministry for all the steps taken to contain the spread of the disease till now. The efforts are evident in the detailed orders and notifications of Covid-19 Advisory of Government of Assam. Yet, government efforts are falling short in managing certain areas and a need is recognized for the civic society to step in. These areas are:

First, people in and from villages are in a confused state. They are aware that there is an emergency, that they need to stay at home, but they are having difficulty in understanding the complexity of the situation. This confusion extends to the small grocery and vegetable suppliers/vendors. They do not understand if they are supposed to open their shops and provide the customers with the necessary provisions, or if they should remain closed. The moment they open, people gather in front of the shop and no sooner we can see that the government direction of maintaining a social distance is no more in place. Also, unlike the malls of towns and cities, the proprietors of these small shops are ordinary villagers, who are equally frightened of the epidemic, as any other layman. Despite government appeals to keep essential items’ stores open, many of them remained closed in the last week of lockdown. Further, in villages, fruits and vegetable sellers usually have makeshift shops by the roadsides. In the absence of these shops, a relative shortage of fruits and vegetables supply is already discerned. The recent notification passed by the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department in Assam on 26th of March, 2020 states that provisions will be made for the supply of fruits, vegetables, dairy products by door step delivery through vans by the wholesalers at designated places at wards level/village level. However, this supply chain management is yet to be executed properly and the dissemination of this supply/produce smoothly from market to households and households to market still remains to be addressed.

Note: It has been seen that loosening the lockdown situation to partially was seen as an effective measure to resolve the above problem but in reality it did not prove to be effective, as we can see from the rising positive cases in the state as of 15th of May. In fact, it is a grave worry that in many cases the vendors are diagnosed positive.

Second, Assam Government’s Health and Family Welfare Department’s notice dated 19th March, 2020 stipulates that all citizens above 65 years of age are advised to remain at home. However, no further notice has been given as to how these elderly people will be assisted to get their daily requirements fulfilled. At some places, at particular times of the day, for particular essential commodities certain steps have been taken but these are sporadic efforts, not methodically organized across the State. There are many elderly people who are living all by themselves or whose children are locked down in another city, state or country at this moment, and they are likely to feel helpless. 

If you reckon with such management issues, please sign my petition requesting the Government of Assam to use volunteer assistance in managing this epidemic situation better.

Join me in specifically asking the Assam State Government to:

1)     Create a Covid-19 combating volunteering cell either under State Government’s website for volunteers to register or use the Central level ‘Join the War against Covid-19’ registered volunteers’ database and organize volunteers at district levels.

2)     Permit few representatives of the volunteers to work closely with the District Level Task Force working on Covid-19 situation, so that the volunteers are trained in precautionary measures and volunteering activities are well organized and in compliance with government directions.

3)     Giving an e-pass to a volunteer will greatly help but till that mechanism can be set up, some kind of a paper pass/certificate based on ID can be issued to a volunteer by the government to avoid confusions while volunteers are out on the streets working in a lockdown situation.

4)     Provide masks and sanitizers to each volunteer.

5)     Create a digital tracking system of the supply-chain management, so as to prevent hoarding and the flow of essential goods and services to a limited section of population.

6)     Assign certain number of families to each volunteer, so that elderly people or those who are vulnerable (disabled, cancer patients, chronic disease patients, diabetes or dialysis patients who need critical doses every day, etc.) do not feel helpless.

7)     Assigning volunteers to help local farmers get the necessary supplies for production, taking the produce to the designated centres in the market, and to organize awareness campaigns among these farmers so that the social distancing norm is maintained on farm lands.

We cannot remain solely dependent on medical professionals, administration and police to ensure that the lockdown is successful. A minimum number of volunteers are needed, so that only those who are trained and aware are out on the streets managing everything and the need of others to leave home is minimized. Corona Warriors of Karnataka, volunteers of Kerala Voluntary Youth Action Force, volunteers from NGOs and Covid-19 enthused individual initiatives in many other parts of India are actively involving themselves in the smooth operation of screening facilitation, supplies and awareness campaigns. Vietnam is another exemplary case. It has sought the involvement of the whole society to work closely with the government in order to fight the epidemic, and has been able to successfully contain the disease till now. I am confident that if similar steps are taken right now by the government of Assam, we can combat the socio-economic adversities of the epidemic situation entirely.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!