From relief to livelihoods recovery: Gram Vikas 75 days COVID-19 response update


By GV News Desk

05 June 2020

Gram Vikas began its COVID-19 response on 15 March 2020 along with the communities in our partner villages in Odisha and Jharkhand. While immediate relief activities continued, we expanded our efforts, early on, to plan for livelihood recovery factoring in the economic fall out of the pandemic on the rural poor communities. 


Many households in our partner villages depend on remittances from migrant workers to survive. Even for those who depended on work in their local economies – farmers, masons, daily wage labourers – the fall out of the pandemic on their income and livelihood security has been severe. 

Our approach to livelihood recovery stands on two pillars:

  • Access to MGNREGS work for local employment  
  • Safe, dignified migration options for those who wish to migrate
MGNREGS for generating local employment

The Government of Odisha allowed resumption of MGNREGS works in early May. However, the actual work is yet to begin in many places.

Gram Vikas staff have been assisting leaders of the Village Development Committees and elected representatives to identify different works that can be taken up under the scheme. They support the households to obtain job cards where needed. 

Technical assistance is being provided to village communities to ensure that the works taken up result in improvements in the natural resources, particularly those that can ensure sustainability of water resources. The types of work taken up will create durable assets, improve water security, help in soil conservation and improve land productivity. Construction of household toilets, developing plantations and community playgrounds are some of the other works taken up.

In the month of May alone, Gram Vikas mobilised communities and worked closely with the local administration to generate 61,000 days of work. A total of 3595 households in 106 villages earned more than ₹ 1.24 crore in wages through these works.  

106 villages | 3595 households | ₹ 1.24 crore in wages

More than four decades of working closely with the communities and the local governments have helped us to leverage opportunities to make sure that people have work and income to tide over these difficult times. 


Safe, dignified options for those who want to migrate for work

The lockdown most severely affected migrant workers from our partner villages and their families. Within a week of the lockdown, we were able to reach out to stranded migrant workers from the villages we work in. 

Our work on Safe Migration meant that we knew the migrant workers and their families well. Information from the existing database helped us to reach out to them quickly. In May 2020, we started building the skill and job needs profile of migrant workers, who are interested in returning to work after the lockdown.

The assessment helped us to develop a programme, which will provide them with safe and dignified work options if and when they choose to return. You can know more about our Safe Migration approach here

The skill profile will also help connect the migrant workers with employers to seek options that are best suited to the person’s experience and expertise. We will work with the partners to ensure that skill enhancement support is provided to desiring workers. 

We have mapped the skills of 1200 workers so far. 

We are mapping the skill set of migrants through our Migrant Resource Centre. This will enable us to create a skills data bank that can be used for upskilling and helping them to find better job opportunities, leading to safe and dignified migration.


In the 75 days since the nation-wide lockdown, we reached tribal and rural poor communities with support to stay aware and safe, meet food requirements and access entitlements promised by the government; find work to meet immediate income needs, and stay in touch with family members stranded outside the state on work. 

We have worked closely with the local governments and the administration to supplement their efforts and provide feedback from the ground and technical support where necessary.

We reached out to more than 20,000 households in 664 villages across 10 districts of Odisha and one district of Jharkhand, with intensive focus in Gajapati, Ganjam, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Khurda and Nayagarh districts. 

Health awareness drives: 10,250 households | 252 villages

We mobilised the community to spread information about the pandemic and knowledge about measures to stay safe from the coronavirus infection. We also supported local governments and administration with outreach for reach of their support and services for the communities. 

Access to social entitlements: 14,300 households | 333 villages

Our teams supported households to identify entitlements they can access from the government, such as ration, pension and helped them to get those. Specifically, we supported village communities and local administration in the planning and execution of MGNREGS to provide work. 

Meeting immediate local needs: 4,800 households | 128 villages

We ensured that households vulnerable to food and income insecurity, such as families of daily wage labourers, got food and material support. Our teams mobilised people and coordinated efforts to produce masks and sanitisers for local distribution. We supported local governments in the enumeration of individuals returning to the villages and to set up facilities in the quarantine centres.  

Support to migrant workers: 10,600 households | 542 villages

We launched the Bandhu Helpline on 31 March 2020 to redress the grievances of migrant workers from Odisha and Jharkhand stranded in different parts of India. Prizes, like mobile recharge, won as part of the Khelo Bandhu initiatives helped the workers to stay in touch with their families. We also shared video recorded messages from their families, which they reported as a source of comfort.  

Our partners supported and guided us in our efforts. 

Thank You

  • Government of Odisha
  • Wipro Foundation
  • HDFC Bank
  • LIC Housing Finance Limited
  • Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development
  • ESAF Small Finance Bank

We are grateful for the generosity of 41 individuals, who participated in the Gram Vikas Crowdfunding campaign for their timely support.


Women and men from Terangasil village engaged in field bunding work under MGNREGA.

Photograph by Rufus Sunny


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