During the first wave of the pandemic, the impact of the lockdown was more severe in urban than in rural areas, said a Unicef study here on Wednesday.

Unicef India in partnership with the Indian Institute of Human Development (IHD) launched the study titled: ‘Assessing Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Socioeconomic Situation of Vulnerable Populations – through Community Based Monitoring’.

The study underlined further that the urban infrastructure for delivery of social services needs strengthening, adding that, marginalised families in rural India show better resilience to withstand impact of pandemic than those in urban India during first wave.

The Unicef study finds that due to poorer quality of jobs available post pandemic which not only pay less but are also not in commensuration with the skill possessed by the worker, most families experienced a decline in wages and persistence of lower incomes, especially in rural India.

In December 2020, around 68 per cent of the main earning members confirmed that their children who are engaged in domestic chores usually spend more than an hour daily on these chores, the study says.

The study assessed the immediate social and economic costs of the pandemic, lockdown and post-lockdown challenges faced by vulnerable communities such as urban slum dwellers, rural communities and children in the country.

The joblessness among the families in the cohort was 26 per cent in urban and 20 per cent in rural areas in June-July. However, it declined to pre-pandemic levels of 8-9 per cent by December 2020, the study has revealed.

While detailing about MGNREGS workers during lockdown, the study said that 62 per cent of those working under MGNREGS got timely wage payment in December, an improvement from 41 per cent in October-November 2020.

Access to treatment for Covid-19 in August-September improved in urban areas vis-a-vis that in rural areas.

“The pandemic exposed the precarious situation that many marginalised groups, including the urban poor, face during humanitarian crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative, Unicef India.

Deirdre Boyd, the UN Resident Coordinator in India said, “Using Community Based Monitoring, this study provides an excellent overview on how the pandemic affected the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations, including rural communities and urban slum dwellers.”

IHD Director Professor Alakh N. Sharma said that the pandemic containment measures exposed the livelihood-centric vulnerabilities of the urban poor in particular.

The Community Based Monitoring mechanism covered seven states — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

On an average, each round of data collection covered around 6,000 families.

Rural districts were selected based on the presence of a large number of home returnees and vulnerable population. Selection of urban districts were based on the existence of large slum habitations and Covid infection level.

–IANS

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