Bhubaneswar: Taking the process of strengthening COVID Sachetak Committees and the young Peer Leaders further, who are working intensively at community-level to create awareness on COVID- 19, 120 Peer Leaders were provided kits comprising thermal scanners and pulse oximeter besides gloves, sanitizers and mask by the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) on Tuesday.
This will help the Peer Leaders or ‘Pragati Sathis’ to take active part in identifying people living in slums and non-slum areas with symptoms at community-level and bring it to the notice of the civic body.
BSCL Chief Executive Officer Prem Chandra Chaudhary gave away the kits in a token distribution ceremony at BMC office today amidst strict adherence to COVID protocol. Senior officials of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and BSCL were present maintaining social distancing. On this occasion, Additional District Urban Public Health Officer Dr. CVSN Rao gave an orientation on the use of the pulse oximeter to the COVID Sachetaks.
Identifying the potential of Peer Leaders to create awareness on COVID at community-level, 120 Peer Leaders were trained in a one-day program organised by BMC at Saheed Nagar Kalyan Mandap during June last week. They were then provided with identity cards and hygiene kit. Immediately after the programme the young boys and girls started door-to-door awareness creation on COVID-19. Besides creating awareness, they provided support to the COVID Sachetak Committee members in identifying vulnerable people, doing thermal scanning of suspects on a daily basis, helping people download Sachetak Application, sharing information of returnees with BMC officials etc.
Starting July, more than 6,000 household visits have been undertaken and around twenty thousand people have been interacted with the Peer Leaders to create awareness on the issue. Notably the Peer Leaders worked extensively in Ward No. 51, 52 covering OUAT Farm Gate Basti, Siripur Sabar Sahi Basti and Ganganagar Hostel Side Basti. Similarly non-slum areas like Prakruti Vihar, Soubhagya Nagar and Shatabdi Nagar were also covered by a team of five dedicated COVID Sachetak Peer Leaders.
While Pushpanjali Behera, Anand Pradhan, Subhajit Sahu and Ganesh Gauda are from OUAT Farm Gate Basti, Chittaranjan Mandal is from Ganganagar Basti. All the young Peer Leaders are in the age group of 19 to 20 years.
The people of Laxmi Bazar Basti were extremely vocal in speaking about the contribution of the five Peer Leaders during July last week when the area was declared containment zone and the young brigade took the risk and provided all essential commodities wearing safety gears like gloves and masks. Not only providing ration to people in slum areas, but in non-slum pockets the Peer Leaders were instrumental in locating the houses for isolation and pasting of the sticker by BMC under the active supervision of the ward officers. Within the two wards i.e. 51 and 52 they have covered 4,000 slum residents and 2,000 non-slum people.
Apart from the awareness and containment service, the Peer Leaders were also involved in a preliminary Vulnerability Survey for Farm Gate Basti and Siripur Sabar Sahi in which kids below five years, senior citizens and pregnant women were identified. In this preliminary assessment while 84 people were identified from Farm Gate Basti, 60 were traced inside the Siripur Sabar Sahi slum.
It can be noted here that apart from these two wards around OUAT, a five-member Peer Leaders team in Ward No. 30 and a nine-member team of Peer Leaders in Ward No 41 are also actively working for the awareness work as COVID Sachetaks. While the Telugu Basti in Saheed Nagar is actively covered by them, the slums near Sriya Talkies in Kharvel Nagar were also covered by the dedicated volunteers.
It is pertinent to point out that the Peer Leaders (Pragati Sathis) are part of the Socially Smart Project which is a collaborative initiative of BMC, Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and has been operational since 2017.
The project focuses on young people and has trained over 120 young boys and girls in three phases of life skill education. These youths work in close collaboration with different stakeholders to address issues and challenges primarily of slums with focus on issues of young and vulnerable people. The project is currently being implemented at the level of 100 slums of the Temple City.