With no income during lockdown, people in slums forced to borrow money for water: Survey
A recent survey conducted in one of the city’s slum areas has revealed a grim effect of the nationwide lockdown imposed in March to curb the spread of Covid-19. The lockdown, which drew most industry to a standstill, has left many jobless, with no income to sustain themselves. In some instances, residents have been forced to take loans even to buy essentials.
The survey of 619 people in the slums of Shivaji Nagar in M-East ward, conducted by NGO Apnalaya, reveals that 46.7% of the respondents had no income during the lockdown period. Of this, 70% had to take loans from family and friends to buy basic items like water and rations. Owing to the lockdown, the employment rate among the group has gone down by 33.3%.
“Around 12% of the respondents said that they had to borrow money to buy water, and 42% said that they needed a loan to buy rations,” said Raghunandan Hegde, director-impact, Apnalaya.
Shivaji Nagar is a patch of slums near the 132-hectare Deonar dumping yard in central Mumbai. It has a population of approximately six lakh people who live in poor hygienic conditions, with no access to healthcare, clean water, and toilets.
The report, which was released on Tuesday, reveals that though 51.4% of the respondents were engaged in some kind of paid work before the lockdown, only 34.5% continue to do the work. In June, the NGO undertook surveys of people engaged as casual labourers, domestic help, conservancy workers, or owners of small businesses.
Around 29% of the respondents said they are not sure of their future income, and many do not know if they will be able to resume work.
“Though Covid-19 is a health crisis, the lockdown and the lack of response have made it into a humanitarian crisis. The informal nature of jobs keeps people in slums not only poor but also away from welfare schemes. Lack of resources has made slum-dwellers vulnerable during the crisis,” said Arun Kumar, CEO, Apnayala. He added that the data could be extrapolated to represent the situation of all slums, which constitute 42% of Mumbai’s population.
The survey results reveal that the average income of Shivaji Nagar residents is also very low. While 17% earned less than Rs4,000 before lockdown, the number has now declined to 23%.
Though 27.5% earned anywhere between Rs8,000 and Rs10,000 before the lockdown period, the job losses have reduced the number to a mere 4.8% earning the same amount.