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This piece was originally published by APC member DEF India

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits the Indian cities, less visible ones have started emerging in the rural and remote villages. This time, rural India is also experiencing a rise in numbers, assumed to take a turn to a catastrophe of unimaginable scale if ignored, particularly taking into account the fragile condition of rural health infrastructure.

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), keeping this in view, has again launched an ICT-enabled and community-specific relief programme, COVID-19 Digital Emergency Relief Programme 2.0, through virtual community and service facilitation.

The 850+ foot soldiers are being trained to work as COVID Soochnapreneurs in their communities who will implement the following activities to fulfill the outcomes:

  • Distribution of the prevention necessities (pulse oximeters, masks, sanitisers, dry rations) to one million people by the COVID Soochnapreneurs.

  • Dissemination of information through WhatsApp groups/messaging: our COVID soochnapreneurs will reach out to people through messages in the form of audios, videos and infographics.

  • COVID Soochnapreneurs disseminating verified helpline numbers for local aid resources through WhatsApp and Facebook.

The programme aims to achieve the following potential impacts:

  • Reaching out to 850+ locations with COVID-19 Virtual Community and Service Facilitation Access in 135 districts and 24 states.

  • Reaching out to approximately one million households with provision of COVID-19 prevention necessities (masks, sanitisers, dry rations and other products like sanitary pads, milk packs, etc.).

  • Provision of 1,000 pulse oximeters to frontline health workers.

  • Mitigating rumours, fake news, misinformation/disinformation on COVID-19 and sharing information about health, nutrition and vaccination.

  • Increasing awareness, knowledge and understanding of people on COVID-19-appropriate behaviour, vaccine hesitancy and eagerness and sensitive behaviour.

The target audiences for the programme are the general public and specifically the elderly, differently-abled people, pregnant women and lactating mothers, frontline health workers, and migrant workers/daily wage earners.

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