The Hari Welfare Association (HWA) has raised alarm over the worsening financial condition of daily-wage workers and other needy persons, especially those hailing from Sindh's rural areas, during the ongoing lockdown.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the association warned that if the lockdown persisted for long without apt measures being taken to ensure the provision of food and financial assistance to the needy and daily-wagers, it was likely that the situation in most areas would turn out to be like that in Tharparkar, where, on average, two children die of poverty every day.
"The situation has worsened due to economic activity coming to a halt over the past two weeks," the association lamented.
It maintained that at present, ration disbursement among the needy was being carried out "inadequately," stating that the ration provided to them wouldn't suffice to support a family for a week.
The HWA also pointed out that though it appreciated some of the Sindh government's efforts during the lockdown, in some cases, relief committee members at district, taluka and union council levels were chosen on the basis of political influence.
"These committees have completely ignored those who are genuinely in need [of ration and help] and provide support to individuals based on political motives," the HWA claimed in the statement. "Among the needy, not more than five per cent are receiving ration and financial support."
According to the association, Sindh government's labour policy has set minimum wage at Rs17,500 per month but the provincial government has promised a meagre amount of Rs2,000 as relief to the daily-wagers during the lockdown, which is likely to extend over a month. The HWA has demanded of the government that daily-wage workers be given an amount equal to that of the minimum wage.
The association has also called to attention that sanitary workers assigned the task to clean quarantine centres have not been provided any safety gear, especially in rural areas. It has further highlighted that the cost of threshing wheat has doubled because of the non-availability of tractors and threshers and rural farmers are now looking towards the government for help.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2020.