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Whilst the life-threatening phase of COVID-19 is thankfully in retreat, several vulnerable communities continue to reel under the disproportionate medium-term impact of the crisis.
Building on the experience of delivering tens of millions of dollars worth of life-saving relief operation during the peak of the second wave last year, the American India Foundation (AIF) is launching a COVID Rehabilitation Fund of $10 million on the momentous occasion of India’s 75th Independence Day.
Through this investment, AIF aims to mitigate the social and economic impact of the pandemic and catalyze positive change in the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities by equipping their adaptive, and absorptive capacities to the post-COVID context. Every dollar that you invest in this fund will be matched by AIF, instantly doubling your impact!
In multi-stakeholder partnerships with the governments, the private sector, the civil society, and the communities, AIF will work to
Currently collaborating with multiple state governments, MacArthur Foundation, Bank of America, and Adobe among others, on rehabilitation work, we invite other visionaries, philanthropists, businesses, state and local governments, and corporations to join hands to support sections of the communities still grappling with the adverse cascading impact of the pandemic and help us design and deliver rehabilitation interventions to build back better and build back differently!
Children are not the face of this pandemic, but the lives of 240 million school-going children in India are nonetheless being changed in profound ways as they risk being among its biggest victims. The damaging effects of this pandemic are not equally distributed. They are most damaging for children in the poorest countries, in the poorest neighborhoods, and for those in vulnerable situations.
Exacerbated in times of this crisis, nonpareil school disruptions have laid bare prevailing inequalities within our education systems, more so those structured along the intersections of gender and poverty.
Mitigating the learning loss, AIF is spearheading its ‘Education Accelerator Model - Addressing Learning Deficit’ in concert with the government’s efforts to reverse the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy regression observed and recorded in children because of COVID-19-induced school closures. Addressing the potential losses that have accrued in learning for today’s young generation, and for the development of their human capital, AIF’s flagship nationwide education Programs - Digital Equalizer and the Learning and Migration Program - have designed an innovative, tech-driven, time-bound solution to assist school children at risk of dropping out, being left behind or ending up in child labor.
Another significant intervention in the post-pandemic recovery process is promoting emotional well-being and resilience to cope with the mental health impact of COVID-19 amongst adolescents (11-15 years). This 10-month intervention also includes training government teachers and state/district government resource persons on the mental health curriculum, to ensure sustainability for integration with regular school activities. The duration of the intervention would be 10 months.
With every fifth migrant in India being a child, tallying a total population of 92.95 million migrant children, AIF is also committed to collaborating with the government and School Management Committees (SMCs)s to provide them the much-needed support to retain these children within the mainstream education through the re-opening of the 200 seasonal hostels closed or in disarray due to countrywide closures and lockdowns.
Today, more vulnerable children are becoming malnourished due to the deteriorating quality of their diets and the multiple shocks created by the pandemic and its containment measures. Efforts to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 have disrupted food systems, upended health and nutrition services, devastated livelihoods, and threatened food security.
The closure of Anganwadi centers and schools and the prioritization of health workers for COVID-19 care have also resulted in poor early childhood learning, nutrition, and health outcomes among children under 6 years of age. The mental well-being of school-going children, many of whom may have faced traumatic experiences, has been a cause for concern and can also influence educational outcomes. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has dented individual and household income levels with women being the most affected.
To mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on children, an integrated project has been conceptualized that will significantly reduce undernutrition and increase the school readiness of children under 6 years of age. Key interventions towards this will involve nutrition education, provision of additional meals, promotion of routine health services, and facilitating ECE activities in Anganwadi centers. Further, the project will promote emotional well-being and resilience among school-going children in the age group 11- 15 years. The project will also increase the income levels of women SHG members through livelihood opportunities. This investment will develop an evidence-based comprehensive template for the reduction of malnutrition amongst children all over the country.
Location: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha (one block in each state)
The COVID Rehabilitation Fund will positively impact 500,000 children from government schools across 10 states (Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Nagaland, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra.) over 8 months, while establishing TSUs in 4 states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, benefitting 15,000 children at risk of distressed seasonal migration.
COVID-19 impelled acceleration of the internet economy presents a real opportunity to cultivate and support India’s women micro-entrepreneurs. Ownership of a micro-enterprise will give a multitude of women a platform to build social identity and financial capital.
With the right infusion of tools, resources, and support, women micro-entrepreneurs will play a significant role in job creation, flipping the gender indices, and boosting the economy.
With a widespread drop in income due to the ongoing pandemic, local markets are not enough of a source of livelihood sustenance for women and youth. New markets need to be explored for Rural Entrepreneurs, especially women.
Developing a technology platform, AIF will work with state governments and Rural Livelihood Missions in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Assam, and West Bengal to build market linkages beyond the district and state and create a unique logistics network where opportunities are being sourced from all over the country and all over the globe. The initiative will work to transition Rural Self-Help Groups into Start-Up by providing them with cutting-edge technologies for building their capacity to undertake digital commerce, onboard them onto digital payments platforms, and build their long-term credit history to access loans faster.
Two other structural developments spurred by COVID-19 include widespread online skilling and remote working. But these opportunities are still not available to many youths and women from remote areas such as North Eastern regions of India, inaccessible rural areas, and aspirational districts.
Arresting this problem, working closely with State Governments, the Future Workspace Skills Initiative will institutionalize digital skilling, upsurge work readiness, and provide locally accessible employment through remote work, while mainstreaming online skilling within colleges of Tier-II, Tier-III Cities, and rural areas.
Designing an online portal – http://inclusivejobs.in/, remote job opportunities from across the country will be profiled and candidates will have real-time access to these jobs.
The intervention is working towards creating Remote Centres across 10 Locations including North East, Aspirational Districts, and Rural areas creating employability skills for 50,000 Youth and Remote Employment for 2,000 candidates to mitigate the job losses accrued in the last 2 years.
Once considered one of the most accessible occupations for the survival of the people living on the lowest ladder in the economy, leading to large-scale migration from rural to urban India, street vending became one of the worst affected professions by COVID-19. As India went under one of the most stringent nationwide lockdowns in the world repeatedly, the 10 million street vendors forming 4% of the informal workforce were left perilously cash trapped.
With a keen focus on reviving their livelihoods, AIF has designed Project ‘Entre-Prerana’ – intervention at the confluence of financial, digital, and market linkages, is designed to revive the livelihoods of 1 million street vendors and other nano entrepreneurs across 25 cities of India, by formalizing and rebuilding nano businesses through formal vendor registration, access to low-cost working capital loans through banks, linkages to the Government schemes like PM SVANIDDHI, onboarding them on digital payment and repayment platforms and facilitating access to newer e-commerce markets and platforms.
The Project will leverage catalytic capital to unlock access to $150 million of working capital for 1 million street vendors, 25 times the investment, with an aggregate income enhancement of $ 1 billion, 250 times the investment. The intervention has already benefited close to 100,000 street vendors since its launch in 2021.
Locations: All metro cities, state capitals, and cities with a million+ population.
COVID-19 was a health crisis that overwhelmed India’s public health system. In this unprecedented crisis, what stood out was the bravery and resilience of India’s frontline workers. There is an urgent need to continue to invest in the capacity of India’s frontline health workers at the last mile in rural India - ASHAS, ANMs, and Anganwadi workers - who act as a bridge between communities and the public health system.
India accounts for around 18% of under-five child deaths globally which translates to more than 800,000 deaths annually or nearly two child deaths every minute! Most maternal and child deaths are preventable if early recognition of complications, appropriate home-based care, and timely referral is ensured.
COVID-19 has adversely impacted the health mortality rates of mothers and children. This has not only threatened the progress of India towards achieving the SDG-2030 goals but may have turned the clock back on the decades of progress made in improving the health of women and children.
COVID-19 has also resulted in the depletion of the nutritional status of women and children due to disruptions in access to social security schemes (such as free mid-day meals and rations) and depleting incomes among families due to job losses.
Through interpersonal communication, the intervention aims to promote the adoption of nutrition habits, and feeding practices among adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, and children under five years in 5,000 villages across 3 districts (East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, and Saraikela Kharsawan) of Jharkhand, covering primarily a tribal population of nearly 5 million.
It also aims to strengthen the delivery of government services and programs related to nutrition, to be responsive to the needs of the community through referral of severely malnourished children, anemia amongst adolescent girls, and pregnant and lactating women amongst others.
To further instate public health system strengthening and delivery at the last mile, AIF through its award-winning Public Health Program - MANSI is focusing on building the capacities of frontline health workers (ASHA, ANM) in the provision of quality home-based care by leveraging technology.
With telehealth and technology becoming increasingly acceptable, there exists an opportunity to transform the role of frontline health workers by establishing a decision-support system to identify and manage maternal and child health morbidities.
Rolling out a pilot amongst 350-400 frontline workers in Maharashtra, for 15 months, AIF will partner with the state governments, private partners, and NGOs to develop and test a decision support system (through a technology-based application for telehealth) for frontline workers that will advance improved home-based care and digitize the work requirements of the workforce.
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