ICMIF 5-5-5 DHAN Foundation project reaches over 530,000 people in fight against COVID-19 pandemic in India

5 August 2020


Just over 530,000 households from low-income communities are now covered with mutual microinsurance thanks to ICMIF’s 5-5-5 DHAN Foundation (DHAN) project in India. This equates to 2.65 million people being protected when averaging five people per household.

This milestone has been achieved amid the COVID-19 pandemic with DHAN battling to help mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the low-income communities that they serve.  The DHAN project is currently supported by 20 ICMIF member organisations either through financial or technical assistance and the cost of insuring each person through the project stands at USD 0.62.

DHAN’s fight against COVID-19

DHAN’s quick and strong COVID-19 response actions have been at community level across 14 Indian states. DHAN has its values rooted in grassroots action at the community level and its COVID-19 response to help the low-income communities it serves was immediate and includes advancing relief measures, education initiatives and facilitating people’s entitlement to state and national government financial inclusion programmes.

DHAN’s support efforts are largely focused on four key areas: urban, rural, coastal areas and tribal communities.

Urban areas

India has a population of 1.3 billion and Indian cities are fast-paced, densely packed places making them a hotspot for the spread of COVID-19.  DHAN has identified that the suffering of migrant workers in urban areas is particularly severe during this pandemic. These migrant workers are vulnerable groups who depend on a daily wage for their income such domestic servants and construction labourers and they often live in the city slums. DHAN is acting as a safety net for many migrant families by providing groceries, PPE, teleservices and medical supplies in collaboration with its partners.

Rural areas

The spread of COVID-19 to villages in India is low, mainly due to villagers often not travelling much further than the village itself. However, the impact of the lockdown which was imposed to try and curb the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country is devasting the livelihoods of these communities. The farmers are dependent on the crop harvest and with no transportation links their produce cannot be sold, and agricultural labourers rely on day to day work which is currently non-existent as farmers cannot sell their produce. On top of this, there is the psychological impact of a lack of sustenance and not knowing what future employment opportunities will be. DHAN’s efforts to facilitate people’s entitlement to state and national government financial inclusion programmes in these areas is paramount.

Coastal areas

Like in rural areas, low-income people in costal communities have seen their livelihoods diminish rapidly with the introduction of lockdown – fishing is prohibited and the lack of transport to take any produce to markets. A family’s sustenance is now completely dependent on the state and national government financial inclusion programmes and DHAN is supporting its members in these areas to access their entitlements.

Tribal communities

It is common for people from tribal communities in the hills of India to move to another part of the country for work for 4-6 months of the year. With the introduction of lockdown, such tribal people are now trapped as the majority of employers want them off their land, but the people will have no food or shelter if they leave. DHAN, with the support of the community leaders, have been in regular touch with migrant families locked in the other states to understand their well-being and providing any information they can which is related to transportation arrangements.

DHAN has several resources it uses to support its education initiatives for members. For example:

  • COVID-19 awareness songs – these that have been circulated online and through social media platforms and played at community radio centres.
  • Behavioural Change Communication Posters on COVID 19 – The SUHAM team along with Centre for Development Communication (CDC) have released an initial 13 posters in the Tamil language.
  • Talk on Development video seriesa collection of videos available on YouTube through which senior DHAN colleagues, the community and well-wishers deliver their messages and coping mechanisms to combat COVID-19.

DHAN has also produced two reports so far which provide an assessment of the COVID-19 outbreak across the regions and the institutions approach to the outbreak. Please click here to view these reports.

ICMIF launched the 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy (the “5-5-5”) in June 2016 to scale up mutual microinsurance in five countries where its members are already operating. The ultimate objective is to build resilience in communities and developing insurable populations by providing financial education, risk reduction and affordable need-based insurance products.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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