Last year was extremely challenging all over the world and the effects of COVID-19 have also been present in Valmet’s social responsibility work. In 2020 we started to support Save the Children’s Child Sensitive Social Protection project in Dungarpur, the state of Rajasthan in India, as a part of our long-term social responsibility program. While reducing poverty and strengthening the resilience of poor and vulnerable families through improving access to relevant social protection programmes, the project increases children’s school attendance and retention and improves the care for and protection of orphans and other vulnerable children.
Needless to say, the first year of supporting the project turned out to be quite different than we imagined. However, in these exceptional times social protection and children’s rights have been even more significant to children and their families.
To mention a few key achievements, 1,700 children were directly reached by the project’s activities and 229 children were removed from child labour and re-enrolled in school. A total of 474 individuals have gained access to various government social protection schemes, and as a result, these families will receive regular financial support to look after their children.
India has currently one of the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. Save the Children’s project area, Dungapur, has not been as severely affected as some other parts of the country, but the COVID-19 cases are rising in Dungarpur area too.
As the economic situation has weakened, many families have been pushed deeper into poverty. The government schools are closed, which has meant that children are not learning and are missing out school meals and daily routines at school. Harmful child labour has notably increased as families have been forced to look for other income earning opportunities, and children are not attending school.
Save the Children’s project activities have been adjusted to meet the current needs and restrictions. In 2020, the project team for example created a digital Child Labour campaign and shared information on COVID-19 within the community. The team has also focused to organize more trainings for schoolteachers as the schools have been closed. As there is a risk of many children not returning to school after the lock down, school closures and other restrictions are lifted, Save the Children has provided school readiness kits to children and supported their studying with other measures as well.
Even though our first year of supporting Save the Children’s project in India was affected by unexpected events, we are extremely proud of the project, that has been able to proceed without any major delays.
We look forward to continue the collaboration with Save the Children in 2021 and wish to experience first-hand the project work and impact in Dungarpur at some point. But for now, we will keep on reporting the achievements and sharing these inspiring stories from the field.