Need: The outbreak of COVID-19 in late 2019 took the whole world by panic and fear as the disease. In less than three months, it had spread its legs in most of the countries of the world including India. Since detecting the disease was not so easy due to its mild symptoms, the only way to control its spread was social distancing. As a result, a lockdown was declared in the state of Jharkhand from the 23rd of March and in the whole country from the 25th of March 2020 for 21 days. Shops closed down and public movement was restricted, making it difficult for the people to purchase even their daily essentials. At the hour of greatest need, the people of West Singhbhum came together, helping each other out to survive the pandemic, COVID-19
Objective: Since, Aspirational District West Singhbhum has not any big players like Big Bazar, Zomato or Swiggy, etc. hence, West Singhbhum district administration started a home delivery service for all the essentials (Medicines, Ration, vegetables, fruits and groceries). For this a general call for self-motivated, young volunteers was made to serve the purpose.
Approach: Following steps have been taken, to run this cell and the whole process is being monitored and managed by Aspirational District Fellow in the guidance of Deputy Commissioner –
1st Phase: An orientation session was held on the 26th of March in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy Development Commissioner and the LRDC, ADFs, keeping social distancing in mind. The whole process was to be coordinated by Aspirational District Fellows with close monitoring by the Deputy Development Commissioner himself. In the session, each of the coordinators was teamed up with four to ten volunteers and an e-rickshaw driver depending upon the stretch of the areas. The volunteers have explained the mechanism of the process and given necessary safety guidelines, gloves, masks, sanitizers and t-shirts, Id cards for easy recognition. This initiative also employs E-rikshaw during the crises. The volunteers and E-rickshaw drivers will be paid based on the daily wage rate defined by district administration.
2nd Phase: A few shops in each cluster were identified to provide the essentials and the contact no. of shops been shared with each volunteer. Sadar Chaibasa and Chakardharpur subdivision chosen to initiate the project which was further divided into ten clusters and 23 wards respectively for ease of monitoring. Ten coordinators for Sadar Chaibasa subdivision and twelve coordinators for Chakardharpur subdivision assigned to facilitate the supply chain in the clusters and to closely monitor the process. Eleven local e-rickshaw drivers from each subdivision were identified for delivery in each cluster.
3rd Phase: A control room was set up in the collectorate where the coordinators would be receiving calls from people all over the subdivision. They would then assign a volunteer of their team to fulfill the requirement. Requirements from people from the whole of Chaibasa began to flood in from the very first day i.e. 28th of March.
The same set up was carried forward to the subdivision of Chakradharpur. The subdivision was divided into 23 clusters according to wards and a total of 30 volunteers were identified with 12 coordinators.
1. The first day was not so easy for us, because most of the people in Chaibasa do not have much exposure to the home delivery system. At the very first day we have received many calls having queries like, how we will distribute the products, how much do they need to pay for home delivery etc. but as we have prepared our team well in advance for these type of quires, we made them understand that the volunteers are the college students residing in Chaibasa only, so they do not need to worry about the safety or other things, we also assured that we will deliver the order based on MRP, they do not need to pay a single penny. We got success to encourage people to make orders and hence we flooded with the orders.
2. At 1st level we only started to deliver basic ration and groceries items, further as per the demand we decided to start to deliver fruits and vegetables and from here our 2nd challenge started. As we all know that it is not possible to come up with a centralized rate card for fruits and vegetables which may create chaos among people. Hence we came up with an idea that we will provide handwritten bills to the customer so that they got to know about the price of vegetables and fruits. After this exercise we got positive results and that’s how we resolve our 2nd challenge.
3. During the process we were ready for another challenge regarding the delivery of the wrong product or mismatch between order and delivery. To deal with this challenge we have prepared our volunteers in advance. We have instructed that if any product is not available or they have any doubt, they can directly call to customer for clarification. And this is how we maximize the rate of order and delivery mismatch issues. And fortunately, we haven’t received any complaint regarding this.
As we understand that it is not easy for people and administration to tackle this situation hence we took every measure to make it more people-friendly. Since our idea behind is to provide essential services to people so, we made every possible step to fulfill the essential need of people.
The success of the model was realized when requirements came in from the neediest people. Till now we have reached out to 300 customers approx. in last 15 days. Medicines, Ration and groceries were delivered to several people. The district administration of West Singhbhum identified the need of people and took the necessary steps in the direction which has turned out to be fruitful.