Talk it Over, is a weekly show curated and hosted by RJ Annapoorna Ravichander, Public Affairs Foundation. This series brings together a pool of experts who share their opinions and ideas on varied topics.
Chandra Shekar Gowda works as the Chief Operating Officer at the Sulochana Thapar Foundation. He has over 22 years of experience of working with the marginalised community.
Sulochana Thapar Foundation-Background
In an interview to Radioactive he shared that the Foundation which was formerly known as Avantha Foundation works on 2 key issues nutrition and urban governance.
In the area of nutrition, they work very closely with integrated child development services of central government focusing on strengthening the last mile service delivery. In the area of urban governance, they work on empowering city governments and urban local bodies as they provide best quality of living to its residents.
The above is done by initiating reforms in the areas of finance, revenue generation citizen’s engagement, human resource management, technology etc. The Foundation is currently working in states of Maharashtra, Goa, Jharkhand
Effect of COVID-19
COVID-19 has affected a lot of the strategies that were planned. For example, the capacity building activities which was an important component in all the nutrition projects had to be halted. The programme primarily built the capacities of the Asha workers and members of the Anganwadis. This was done since the government wanted these frontal workers to focus on the prevention of COVID-19, it was a difficult decision we had to make on prioritising their activities.
Use of phone and technology was increased so that front line workers could be reached in case they required support/help and also engagement with Gram Panchayats also was intensified. This was also done in the urban areas where interactions with the governments increased. So a lot of activities in the urban areas had to be changed to allow the governments to focus on COVID-10. The Foundation focussed on creating awareness messages on prevention of COVID-19.
There were both positives and negatives. The key takeaways and learnings included:
Be ready for such an event, god forbid if it occurs, especially NGOs. The other changes we have made include:
Change home-work policy and put in place the use of IT related infrastructure to facilitate working conditions
Incorporated an element of technology in all projects accepting the fact that technology is an enabler. It also provides end-to-end solutions, this includes introducing a mobile-based platform to enhance training and capacity building activities
Include a contingency item in all the budget so that such emergencies can be dealt with effectively. This contingency will provide a cushion to deal with major issues and will not disrupt the programmes.
It is very important that that all team members and the management should not be impacted and one should strive to motivate teams and allay their fears.
Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander
Public Affairs Foundation