Voices of the Invisible Citizens: A Rapid Assessment on the Impact of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Internal Migrant Workers; Recommendations for the State, Industry and Philanthropies
Jan Sahas, New Delhi, released Voices of the Invisible Citizens: A Rapid Assessment on the Impact of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Internal Migrant Workers; Recommendations for the State, Industry and Philanthropies in April 2020. Jan Sahas is an organisation that works with socially excluded communities in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The report presents the results of a survey of 3,196 migrant workers, conducted between March 27 and 29, 2020. The objectives of this survey were to assess the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on migrant workers and on their employment and income, gauge their access to essential services, document their self-assessment of the long-term impact of the shutdown, and analyse the effectiveness of relief measures undertaken by the central and state governments.
The migrant workers surveyed were from Madhya Pradesh (68 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (36 per cent), Delhi (0.25 per cent) and other states (1.4 per cent). A majority of them were engaged in construction (37 per cent), agriculture (21 per cent) and manufacturing work (16 per cent).
The minimum daily wages in Delhi are Rs. 692 for skilled work, Rs. 629 for semi-skilled and Rs. 571 for unskilled work. Of the surveyed migrant workers, 55 per cent were severely underpaid – earning between Rs. 200 and Rs. 400 for each work day, while 39 per cent were paid between Rs. 400 and Rs. 600, and only four per cent earned over Rs. 600 a day.
Roughly 90 per cent of the surveyed workers reported having lost their income over the three weeks preceding the March 27-29 survey.
The workers lost between Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 10,000 of income on average due to the lockdown, till the dates of this survey.
About 31 per cent of the surveyed workers reported they had taken loans from banks, moneylenders, contractors or other sources, and eight per cent said they had taken loans from multiple sources. More than 79 per cent believed that they would not be able to repay their debts in the immediate future. Nearly 50 per cent feared danger or violence due to their inability to repay these debts.
Over 42 per cent of the surveyed workers said they did not have rations left for another day. Nearly 40 per cent said they had rations for the next two weeks, and 18 per cent reported that they had enough for 2 to 4 weeks.
A third (33 per cent) of the surveyed workers reported having no money to buy rations, 14 per cent had no ration card, and 12 per cent had ration cards but could not access the public distribution system because they were migrants.
Roughly 10 per cent (or 328) of the surveyed workers mentioned that their households included a pregnant woman. Of them, 143 said they did not have enough rations to sustain themselves or their families for another week.
Over 34 per cent of the surveyed workers said they had no access to a government or private hospital.
About 62 per cent of those surveyed were not aware of any scheme announced by the central and state governments to help migrant workers during the Covid-19 lockdown. And 37 per cent were aware of such provisions but did not know how to access them.
Only 13 per cent of the surveyed workers had alternative livelihood options, while 48 per cent were uncertain about their immediate future.
Focus and Factoids by Abizar Shaikh.
PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.
Jan Sahas, New Delhi
Jan Sahas, New Delhi