In the remote villages of India, suffering from hunger is as great a fear as catching the coronavirus

Rajasthan's lockdown has cut these villagers off from food
Before India imposed a nationwide blockade of the coronavirus, Singh was employed in a local quarry, filling trucks for 9000 rupees, about $ 119 a month.

Now the work has stopped and he has no money to feed his family of six, giving the Singh family another option than to rely on charity.

About 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the closest city of Jodhpur, Dechu looks like a village fallen through the crevices.

Dechu, like many isolated communities, found himself virtually excluded. The closest shop is 7 kilometers (4 miles) away, too far for many to walk in the village, especially in the summer heat.

Govind Rathore, the founder of Sambhali Trust, a non-governmental organization that works to empower women, knows the problems presented by the isolation of Dechu: it is his ancestral home.

“We always came here in a very sheltered way – my parents or relatives took care of us. I lived here and had access to Jodhpur. But now we are completely excluded,” said Rathore.

Last month, he decided he had to do something to help, and mobilized a team of 14 people to provide the basic essentials to the villagers in desperate search for food and other supplies.

Every day, he and his team get together at 11:30 am and work through a list of people who are struggling during the pandemic. They add more names as the block runs out.

Rathore and his team visit the local grocer and begin preparing food packages. Each package costs around $ 11 and contains items like flour, legumes, sugar, oil and spices – enough to feed a family of four for 10 days.

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The state government admits that the vast area of ​​Rajasthan poses a challenge when it comes to distributing aid.

“We are the largest state in the country when it comes to the geographic area. So even in normal times, the provision of services is a great challenge, especially in western Rajasthan,” said Rohit Singh, chief secretary of the government of the state of Rajasthan. .

There are some areas in the state where you need to extend government services to get them. It’s a challenge. But in these pandemic times, the challenge continues further, he added.

Under a national regime, the Indian government is providing discounted flour and rice through local suppliers, but it does not include other essential elements, such as oil or salt, said Rathore.

“What can people only do with flour or rice? They need more staples,” he added.

The government has also initiated a basic salary for people who are below the poverty line and who can withdraw money from their banks.

But the closest bank from Dechu is also 7 kilometers (4 miles) away and the lines are long, Rathore said.

Rathore’s journey into social work began 14 years ago, when he decided to hold elementary lessons for some women who had never received an education. The following year he opened his NGO.

Dechu’s isolation during the pandemic led Rathore to realize that nothing has really changed for his village for decades.

“During the crisis, there was nothing here – nobody was here to help people. I don’t know how they lived here. I never saw anything like that,” he said.

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