AID Responds to the COVID Tsunami Engulfing India



Press release:

The Association for India’s Development (AID) is a volunteer-driven US-based charity focused on sustainable, equitable and just development of some of the most marginalized communities in India. We partner with over 100 community-based grassroots groups across India to effect impactful change in diverse areas of social development including education, LGBTQ and transgender rights, environmental justice and healthcare access.

The first wave of COVID-19 that hit India in Feb 2020 prompted a sudden, stringent and  poorly planned lockdown across the country that resulted in widespread internal migration and the loss of millions of jobs. To address this disaster, AID organized a massive COVID-19 relief and rehabilitation effort targeted towards those marginalized communities severely affected by the disease. We raised over $1 million and partnered with 30 community organizations across 18 states in India to provide over 200,000 people with emergency supplies of cooked food and food rations, personal protective equipment (PPE) to thousands of doctors, healthcare workers and other essential workers, 3000 street vendors and village entrepreneurs with livelihood rehabilitation and/or new livelihoods.

In the past year, AID has been helping communities in the Sunderbans recover from the dual disasters of COVID-19 and Cyclone Amphan. This picture is from AID’s partner Chetana Sangha (April 2020).

India is in the midst of a deadly second COVID wave that has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare systems and government administrations at state and central levels. The country is reporting an unprecedented 350,000 daily infections and over 2500 daily deaths due to the virus. However, even these numbers are thought to be a significant underestimate of the actual number of cases and deaths, which as per some epidemiological experts and media reports, is 5-10 times higher.

To understand the true extent of the problem in rural and underprivileged communities that often get left out and to identify critical areas of support, we have been reaching out to our network of grassroots groups across India. Our partners are reporting a number of worrying trends in the current COVID surge. First, small and large hospitals are running at capacity and facing severe shortage of beds, oxygen and vaccines. Second, there is an increased number of COVID cases from remote, rural and tribal districts of India indicative of fast spread in areas with poor public health infrastructure. Third, there is a significant dearth of screening and testing facilities in most villages and small towns, which likely contribute to the gross underestimates of the number of COVID cases in the country. And finally, rampant misinformation, social stigma and vaccine fears are fueling the exponential spread of the disease.

Based on this understanding, AID has launched a multi-pronged approach to respond effectively to this crisis.

  • Helpdesks in rural district hospitals: Our health partners are running help-desks in district hospitals to triage, counsel and advise patients with accurate information about appropriate home-care and when to seek hospital support.
  • Helplines for serious cases: We are supporting more serious cases with helplines to connect with hospitals and available beds.

    Ghodegaon rural hospital helpdesk activist gives woman information about vaccination. Image – courtesy SATHI, Pune, 2021

  • Equipment to low-resourced hospitals: This targeted program aims to ensure the delivery of oxygen concentrators and used ventilators to underserved urban or small town hospitals. The first shipment of 10 used ventilators just reached Mumbai.
  • Increasing vaccine deliveries: We are working with our partners to reduce vaccine hesitancy and improve access to vaccines for rural communities.
  • Telehealth counseling: We are exploring setting up telehealth counseling to provide advice and training to village health workers who are responding to COVID in remote villages.
  • Food and cash support: We are helping families of extremely poor people whose main breadwinners have died because of COVID or are in the hospital for an extended period. We are also getting prepared to run soup kitchens in case extended lockdowns again come into effect.
  • Advocacy for access to government support: We are working on getting the state to recognize the rights of the unregistered workers for COVID support.
  • Livelihood support: We are helping poor families who face economic distress due to COVID lockdowns and closing of workplaces. This is a continuation of our efforts in the last year providing livelihood and food support to thousands of people.

Our team of volunteers from across the United States is in continuous touch with partners on the ground, evaluating the situation and responding accordingly, in addition to engaging in the large fundraising effort needed to meet the needs.

To make a tax-deductible donation in the US:


Media Contact:

Shrinaath Chidambaram

Director, Association for India’s Development

Phone: 508-561-8937

Email: [email protected]


AID is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with federal tax-ID 04-3652609


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