According to a survey ‘50% of rural India eating less due to lockdown’

NEW DELHI: Of the 5000-plus rural households surveyed across 12 states by some leading civil society organisations to understand the impact of coronavirus-induced lock down, half of them were found to be eating fewer items and less number of times to overcome the crisis.
A significant 68% of households said they had reduced food items in their meals, 50% households had reduced the number of times they were eating in a day and 24% of households had borrowed food grains.
While 84% of the households surveyed said they got ration through PDS, one-sixth households still remained deprived. The study makes a case for ensuring focus on PDS and investments by the Centre and state governments in the forthcoming Kharif crop season, as these will be the lifelines for many in the months ahead.
The study – “COVID-19 induced Lockdown – How is the Hinterland Coping?” covered 5162 households across 47 districts in 12 States between April 28 and May 2. The CSOs reached out to households in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajashtan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, Assam and Karnataka.
It was a collaborative study by PRADAN, Action for Social Advancement, BAIF, Transform Rural India Foundation, Grameen Sahara, SAATHI-UP and The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) with research support of Vikas Anvesh Foundation and Sambodhi.
The study warns about fast depleting stocks with more than one-third of the households surveyed, saying they did not have any surplus from the last Kharif crop. Around one-third said their Kharif stock would last only till May-end.
The survey also showed that more than one-third of the respondents did not have seeds for the upcoming Kharif season and nearly half expected to get crop loans.
Hence, the study lays emphasis on government support for Kharif season, including provision for seeds and credit.
With lock down affecting income, nearly 22% of the households were found to have borrowed money from extended family and 16% from money lenders. Also 22% arranged for money by selling livestock while 14% mortgaged household items.
The survey also warns about the impact of Covid on education of children in rural households. Asked about postponement of discretionary expenses, nearly 29% of households didn’t rule their children dropping out of school.
In most of the surveyed families, migrant members were yet to return. In only 17% of the households surveyed, the migrant members had returned.
The survey also found women having extra work load. Nearly 62% of households reported their women members making more trips to fetch water and in 68% of households, women were spending more time in collecting fuel wood.