Our country has a huge population of migrant labourers who come into the bigger cities, with their entire families to find work. Most of these families are dependent on daily wage labour to make ends meet and now with this complete lockdown –they have no access to any income and are in complete despair. Children are obviously the most vulnerable in a situation where parents are not even able to afford basic food.
This area is characterized by congested slums and acute poverty. The communities living here are mainly Muslims and Dalits and most of them work as daily wage labourers. In most households – both parents work to make ends meet and therefore children are often left to their own means through the day. Unsupervised – many of them are vulnerable to abuse, addictions or even trafficking. The concept of education is very rare with many children dropping out of school to supplement their meager family incomes as child labour. Proper health and hygiene facilities are lacking and most people are not even aware of what is rightfully due to them.
Extreme water scarcity, increasing debts, repeated crop failures and farmer suicides – this is the chilling scenario that greets us in this part of the country. People live in scattered hamlets, struggling to get by with very little to fall back upon. Food grains are scarce as are any sort of green vegetables. Basic survival is a day to day challenge with children being the most vulnerable.
The project works with communities of waste pickers based in the slums of Bangalore. These are some of the most neglected and backward communities and their children are at a constant risk of ill health due to the lack of hygiene and unsanitary conditions. The parents work long hours and therefore children are often neglected and drop out of school. Substance abuse, early initiation into high risk sexual activities are also fairly common. Child marriage is the norm and children often have little or no access to proper health and education facilities which further compounds the challenges they face.
The city of Ahmedabad and the areas around it are often considered to be one of the most polluted cities in India. The quality of air, cleanliness, water pollution and solid waste management are major challenges, particularly the slum areas near the industrial sectors. Failure of environmental systems management and disposal of solid waste, lack of monitoring and enforcement of rules and regulations, vehicular and industrial pollution are often referred to as the causes for this acute state of affairs. Children living in this city are therefore at a high risk of ill health and disease.