Uttarakhand Bio-toilet initiative

Uttarakhand Bio-toilet initiative

At a time when the entire country is raging over the oh-so-popular debate of toilets over temples, Outlook India (an English weekly news magazine), declared sanitation as India’s No. 2 problem (in more ways than one) (You can refer to the article here). 64% of Indians still do it in the open which is a global record in itself. In the background of such a situation, the CSR initiative of a major Indian logistics company in partnership with Samhita is one step towards solving one of the oldest and large-scale problems of India.

To address this problem in a sustained manner, the company adopted sanitation as one of the top causes as part of its CSR policy. In pursuance of its CSR policy, it gave a go ahead to set-up environment friendly bio-toilets in and around its areas of operations to eliminate open defecation practice. These bio-toilets differ from the conventional toilets as all of the human waste is processed and converted into harmless water thus promoting environmental sustainability.

Just as it was approving the budget to go ahead with the installation of bio toilets at their Mumbai Port facilities, unfortunately, in Uttarakhand, thousands of people were killed/displaced due to devastating floods and landslides in the region. Being a socially responsible business that it is, the company decided to prioritize helping flood victims and encouraged employees to come forward and commit one day’s salary, which the company will match.

The company decided to undertake a more structured and holistic approach in order to ensure that the collected money is brought to an effective use and delivers the much-needed impact in the affected communities. So, in partnership with Samhita, a needs assessment was conducted in the flood affected villages to identify the imminent problems. It was identified that the villagers in the flood affected regions were left with very little sanitation facility due to floods; most of them going out in open spaces to defecate. Thus, there loomed a big danger of an epidemic breakout in the region. Community being an integral part of their operations, the company wanted to go beyond donations and overtake the execution of the relief project till the final stage until the affected people are not forced anymore to indulge in open defecation practice.

A local NGO Yusuf Meherally Centre (YMC) was identified for looking after the installation and maintenance of these toilets in the long run. The work began with Samhita and YMC teams getting together and conducting days of groundwork which included surveys and some social engineering to ensure only the needy and those who are severely affected by the disaster are selected as beneficiaries for toilets. Moreover, to make best use of capacity of bio-toilets, the beneficiaries were grouped together to use common toilets. This also ensured a sense of responsibility amongst the people to first build the toilets, and then use and maintain them collectively.


–  An amount equal to Rs. 7,22,760 was raised through the matching scheme with the employees

–  18 toilets would be built, spread out over six flood affected villages namely Dugadda, Shirwa, Durgapul, Bhumia ki Chaloti, Thatyur and Thapla. 15 were built for households and 3 were built for schools

–  More than 200 villagers and 325 children have been benefitted by getting access to toilets

–  Construction of toilets have provided a livelihood opportunity to around 45 villagers who worked as daily labourers


Role of Samhita

–  Identified sanitation as the major problem in alignment with the mandate of the corporate from a ground-level needs assessment in the villages of Uttarakhand

–  Recognized the right kind of social enterprise with its area of operation in and around Uttarakhand and as sanitation as the focus area. After a series of personal calls, market research and due diligence process, StoneIndia was identified as the partner social enterprise.

–  Carried out a door-to-door research and identified potential locations for setting up of bio-toilets where sanitation facilities were largely deficient. Feasibility studies and access issues were also carried out at this stage.

–  Helped in the setting up of bio toilets and supervised the working and functioning of bio-toilets. The NGO Yusuf Meherally Centre was identified and handed over the responsibility of installation and maintenance of these toilets in the long-run

–  Provided villages with a reporting and impact assessment framework to record the progress and sustainability of the project.

The leading logistics company has assured their commitment towards community development work in the long run and promised to stay closely associated with the local people to ensure sustainability of these efforts. The seriousness and commitment shown by the higher management ensured the project execution in a very small duration and brought a huge difference to the life of flood affected communities.

Reckitt Benckiser | How to leverage core competencies to create impact

Reckitt Benckiser | How to leverage core competencies to create impact

Urbanisation and climate change have led to an increase in the need for improved water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).  While companies across India try to address the critical gaps in WASH through their CSR, RB decided to take a shared value approach and unlock advantages for both business and society. 

The Reckitt Benckiser Story

Children spend a significant portion of their day at school where WASH services (including access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene) can impact student learning, health and dignity particularly for girls. Most water and sanitation related diseases can only be prevented by improving a number of hygiene infrastructure and behaviours.

With a view to harness the potential of India’s next generation to become sanitation change leaders, RB and Samhita designed an intervention which recognizes the role of children as key drivers of change and arms them with the right tools to drive change as well as collaborated with the government to scale the impact.

How did we impact 1 lakh students

Samhita designed a program with a focus on driving behavior change through community ownership and advocacy at the level of government and the school administration, in addition to imparting education on hygiene practices among children. Our approach to multiply the impact was two fold:

This project has adopted the proven route of community engagement to reach thousands of lives. The Behavioural Change Communication (BCC) plan covers not only hand washing but also the importance of personal and environmental hygiene practices. Wall paintings, celebration of important international and national events related to WASH were observed in large scale in the states. In addition, students and teachers engaged several community leaders and school management committees in their locations to spread awareness on best practices in the communities.



Development through community participation

Development through community participation

As part of its CSR services, Samhita Social Ventures undertakes community needs assessment for companies to align the expectations and intentions of the company with priorities identified by the community that it seeks to benefit as a key stakeholder. This is accomplished by conducting door-to-door surveys, interviews with key informants in the village (such as sarpanch, asha worker, aanganwadi workers) and focused group discussions with the residents.

Through our intense and in-depth interaction with communities across the country, we have realized that community participation and acceptance are critical in ensuring the success of CSR programs. While the theoretical discourse on development has always acknowledged the importance of participatory approach (you may have heard of Robert Chambers and Paulo Freier), this takes on a pragmatic connotation for companies beginning to think about CSR in India.

Our work has shown that the aim should be to address social implications of corporate activities by securing community participation in decision-making and consideration of local knowledge and the environment. The community should drive and own these initiatives. Any tendency to superimpose or force CSR or other development initiatives top-down on communities could be disastrous.

So for example, during one such assessment in two clusters of Vadodara District, Gujarat it was observed that 87% people defecate openly every day. While reducing open defecation is a national and international priority, it was most interesting to note that communities in one cluster did not perceive it to be an issue. The assessment found that these communities defecated in the open not only because of the unavailability of toilets but due to low awareness of the potential health hazards, internalized behavior, accustomed practice, perception of high costs of maintaining and constructing toilets, caste based differences in terms of maintenance and cleaning, etc. It was seen that these communities appeared resistant to using toilets because of all these reasons. In this context, CSR initiatives of companies to set-up toilets for such communities to eliminate open defecation, disregarding the voices of the community, would be futile and bound to fail. The company would have, in effect, spent its funds putting up concrete structures with its branding – not used by anyone and soon falling into a state of disrepair and neglect. In fact, this is a very common sight in many villages dotted across India. One of the ways to then incorporate the community’s views and mitigate the risk of failure would be to start a behavior change communication or campaign on a long term and sustained basis. Another example flows from the needs assessment conducted in northern India. The study revealed rampant usage of traditional fuel for cooking. About 83% of people relied on cow-dung and wood as the means of cooking.  It was obvious to our eyes that this was leading to many respiratory problems among women and also causing indoor pollution. Surprisingly, the women did not seem to be too bothered. When we suggested using smokeless chullahs or stoves, most of them thought it to be flippant. Conversations with these women revealed that they preferred these smoke generating stoves because they believed that it kept the house warm, drove away insects etc. They said that they were accustomed to cooking in this way.  It is anyone’s guess as to what the results of a CSR initiative distributing free smokeless stoves to a community like this would be. Promoting smokeless chulhas in such households becomes challenging unless their beliefs are changed.

A similar reaction was observed in another needs assessment study when a group of women said they did not want personal taps and that they preferred community pumps as it was the only activity that gave them a chance to come out of their houses and socialize with other women.

In conclusion, we opine that CSR initiatives by companies or social developmental activities by NGOs should be planned in a participatory manner, in consultation with the community, literally sitting with them, and gauging their basic needs. We must take recourse to “participatory rural appraisal” and other mapping tools to identify the community needs. This, in turn, results in greater outreach and smoother implementation. And thus, a project is born.

The need for sustainable sanitation solutions

The need for sustainable sanitation solutions

The Prime Minister’s call for a Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014 has reactivated the demand to provide better health and hygiene to communities. The mission became one of the first big priorities of CSR, after the law came into force, with several companies, foundations and individuals pledging their support to the cause of sanitation. While providing infrastructure and other resources is critical, it is also equally important to practice a holistic approach to implementing such programs.

 Sanitation, or WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) issues are divided into two broad categories of supply and demand. Supply side issues include building toilets, drainage systems and the availability of water and electricity. Issues that affect demand are to do with caste, location, environment, security, social prejudices, religious beliefs etc.

The government continues to restrict support to supply issues without adequately addressing demand barriers. It has capped the spending on Information, Education and Communication (IEC), to 15% of the budget signalling that it is secondary to creating infrastructure.

India is suffering from a serious sanitation crisis: we have the largest number of people practising open-defecation in the world. The situation is so bad that open defecation is more common in India than in poorer countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya and Rwanda. To achieve the primary objective of Swachh Bharat and end open-defecation in India, it is critical that both aspects of WASH are addressed. In this context, it would be helpful to understand some of the ground level challenges, gaps and the scope for companies to provide sustainable and scalable support to the sanitation ecosystem.

Construction: The need for well-built toilets

Most companies have pledged to build toilets, which is desperately needed to combat the practice of open-defecation. India needs sanitation infrastructure for the more than 600 million people who do not have access to a toilet.

Construction is a cost-intensive activity and yet could be a half-baked solution if issues related to availability of water, electricity, land, manpower and appropriate toilet designs are not addressed upfront.

Companies need to rise to this challenge and focus on building good quality toilets. The one-size-fits-all approach cannot work because of vast differences between urban and rural spaces and variances in community practices and beliefs across geographies. Badly constructed toilets will also further discourage use.

What is needed is a concerted effort to build toilets that people will be encouraged to use, that keep in mind specific community needs, and also ear-mark resources for maintenance. There is also scope for funders to look at the renovation of existing toilets that have fallen into disrepair, reducing the need for cost-intensive construction projects.

To successfully tackle the problem of open-defecation we need to approach the issue holistically and encourage behaviour change rather than measuring our success by the number of toilets being built.

Critical WASH components that need support: maintenance, waste management and capacity building

A critical factor that is failing to receive adequate operational support is the maintenance of toilets. Hundreds of toilets lie unused due to the lack of proper maintenance systems – the total maintenance allocation for schools under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), including cleanliness, consumables, and small repairs is a paltry Rs. 5000 a year. Providing a reasonable percentage of the budget to ensure proper maintenance – at least for some period of time after installation – can be a critical input for WASH programs.

Attention also needs to be paid to supplementary components like waste management, drainage systems, waste-water treatment, fecal sludge management and capacity building.

Companies also fail to strategize their exit from communities. Very few CSR efforts have exit plans that build in takeover by the community, which is essential to ensure longer-term sustainability of the initiative and durability of the intended outcomes. Another way of ensuring the sustainability of programs is through collaborative interventions, which provide a wider donor base for communities to draw upon. It is necessary for companies to support the sanitation ecosystem in a way that programs can be sustained after their exit.

Changing behaviour

Behaviour change communication is critical to ensure the usage of toilets. Messages need to be professionally developed and context-specific to account for the widely different reasons for open-defecation in urban and rural spaces. For example, rural areas are governed by socio-cultural practices, whereas the issue in urban areas is related to space, time and maintenance.

For FMCG companies, behaviour change campaigns also present an opportunity to strategically address the imperatives around WASH through cause-marketing campaigns, rather than be seen as pure CSR initiatives.

The need for sustainable solutions

The CSR mandate has motivated companies to participate in the Swachh Bharat campaign but in order to meet the goals of the campaign, CSR efforts need to be channelled towards interventions that are sustainable in the long-term.

Samhita strongly believes that in order to effectively address the problem of open-defecation companies need to fund end-to-end solutions that support the sanitation ecosystem. Programs should include the construction and maintenance of toilets, behavioral change communication, monitoring impact and sustainability. The program life-cycle should be designed such that all aspects of WASH are adequately covered.

We are not, however, suggesting that companies take on the entire responsibility at an individual level; companies could pool funds or create/join coalitions with other key stakeholders like Foundations, research bodies, social organizations to support specific interventions and drive collective impact.

2019 may be the year when India has a 100 million more toilets but unless the government, companies and other key stakeholders adopt a more holistic approach to sanitation, those toilets will lie abandoned and unused while people use the fields they find so pleasureable and convenient.

– Mr. Vaidyanathan Krishnamurthy

What Will It Take For the Covid-19 Vaccine To Succeed?

What Will It Take For the Covid-19 Vaccine To Succeed?

We need adaptable and accessible communication strategies to address vaccine hesitancy and vaccine indifference in the most vulnerable sections of our society.

While the  COVID-19 virus has touched every corner of the globe, its impact on the ground has been far from uniform. In developing countries, where over 1 billion people live in slums, factors such as population density and poverty prohibit pandemic-safe behaviours like physical distancing and work-from-home.

In developing countries, the socio-economic effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting, as it has reversed decades of progress in poverty eradication and food security. In India, this is reflected by the 230 million people who have been pushed into extreme poverty since the onset of the pandemic. 

While several pandemic-related challenges, like flattening the curve, have been more difficult in developing nations due to factors like weaker, less resilient infrastructure and healthcare systems, there is one issue that developing and developed nations alike are struggling to overcome: crossing the threshold to achieve complete immunisation against the virus.

While each country faces its own unique set of challenges in procuring and administering COVID-19 vaccines, an overarching hurdle is the need to combat vaccine hesitancy.

The coronavirus has triggered two parallel pandemics: a virus spreading across the globe and an info-demic, spreading across mass media. From innocently misleading to intentionally deceiving, misinformation and disinformation about vaccines are rampant.

India is no exception to this phenomenon. Even though India has seen great successes in the past with nationwide vaccination campaigns to eradicate polio and measles, the rapid spread of unchecked information due to the advent of digital media, has increasingly propagated false information, threatening public health. 

At the root of vaccine-related misinformation lies not only mistrust and fear, but also legitimate questions and doubts. Vaccines are efficient public health tools to reduce disease burden, yet people continue to be  “vaccine hesitant”. Another barrier to vaccine uptake is “vaccine indifference” — where people, dealing with the compounded effects of the pandemic on their livelihood, education, and quality of life, don’t rank getting vaccinated high in their list of priorities. 

Crafting Communication

We need tailored communication strategies to address the different barriers to vaccine uptake in India. Studies have shown that simply correcting myths about vaccines not only fails to improve intention to vaccinate, but also may backfire and decrease intention to vaccinate. 

By understanding the motivation behind the hesitancy, we can create communication approaches that speak to that motivation, match the reality of the receiver and do more than simply replacing rumors with ‘facts’. We need to ensure that there are accessible and adaptable communication channels which allow communities to ask questions and receive information about the vaccine and the vaccination process. The effectiveness of this process requires patience, resources and people. 

Samhita’s response to the vaccine uptake challenges has been to focus on information communication in tandem with increased accessibility. Evidence-based educational and training materials from field practitioners, medical and public health agencies, and  clinicians are made available to NGOs and organizations working on the ground. For example, in the district of Satara, Samhita has helped build awareness and conduct surveillance surveys to understand and record changes in COVID appropriate behaviour, vaccine hesitancy, and information gaps about home-based COVID care, among frontline health workers, ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers, etc.

Leaving No One Behind

Immunisation is one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but a large portion of the world’s population are still not benefiting from it because they cannot easily access and avail the vaccines. Ensuring public health is the first step to building just and sustainable societies and economies — in a pandemic, vaccines are a highly cost-effective way to do that.

To help vaccinate daily wage workers and marginalised communities who are likely to get left out of the current vaccination program, Samhita has designed the following interventions to navigate their COVID related challenges and doubts:

  • Facilitation and administration of the vaccine in large proportions. With the  collaborative support of private organisations, large cohorts could be covered in a short span of time.
  • Identification, registration and mobilisation of beneficiaries at scale.
  • Inoculation process, post inoculation monitoring; providing a robust technology platform to manage the programme and monitor the vaccinations.
  • Community-wide immunisation drives to inoculate at-risk vulnerable communities who have either very little or no awareness about the vaccination programme.
  • Mobile vaccination through mobile vans for reaching out to communities in rural and tribal areas. 

Through these interventions, one of the most prominent transformations observed was significantly higher confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. The programme has seen entire communities go from `the vaccine shot will kill us’ and `women who get vaccinated become infertile’ to ‘the vaccine has helped us re-gain our livelihoods’. Such was the case in the village of Rangaon in Madhya Pradesh, where in the initial phases, only 10% of the population had been inoculated. After continuous efforts, the village has managed to reach 98% vaccination rates.  Samhita is working to replicate this success rate in underserved communities across the country. 

Samhita aims to administer 20,00,000 vaccines across India with 4,50,000 already administered within 6 months. This is made possible through the support of our funding partners: Global India Fund, Bank of America, Tata Motor Finance, Angel One, Petrofac, Ivanti, Legrand, Wipro, General Electric, and Larsen & Toubro Infotech. Samhita also acknowledges the efforts of our implementing partners who are on the ground serving at-risk communities: VaccineOnWheels, SEWA, Transform Rural India Foundation, Ambuja Cement Foundation, LabourNet, Edustan Pvt Ltd, Nimbus Consulting Pvt Ltd, Birangana Mahila producer company Ltd, B. Barefoot Enterprises Pvt Ltd, and Doctors for you.

Samhita’s Collection of Stories of Change

Samhita’s Collection of Stories of Change

Imagine a day when women in our country will have absolute agency to take decisions in their personal life and to flourish professionally. Imagine a day when access to quality medical-facilities will not be a luxury reserved for the elite. Imagine a day when India’s populace will be so educated and skilled that it will not need to worry about rotikapdamakaan: Instead it will be able to climb to the higher rungs of Maslow’s pyramid. We, at Samhita, work to see that day.

Gandhiji said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In that spirit, we strive for the day to arrive sooner. We agree that the above scenario constitutes a remarkable change. It’s more like a metamorphosis reflected on the cover of this book. Nevertheless, we are committed to help solve wicked socio-economic problems in our little ways.

Often, change is not fully grasped through numbers given the colossal issues we face. Here, stories of change serve as a beacon which spotlight the real lives impacted.

This is a collection of stories of change representative of the year gone by. These stories are divided into four segments:

  1. Change in People: These accounts of transformation in our beneficiaries’ lives, is what keeps us going.
  2. Change in Places: A corollary to the above segment, these stories give a sense of varied geographies reached.
  3. Change in Partners: This section chronicles the symbiotic relationship we share with our partners.
  4. Change in Processes: This part documents our efforts to bring about systemic shift to impact the entire ecosystem such that change sustains for a period beyond our intervention.

We hope that in the following pages, you meet someone whose perseverance inspires you, you travel to a place which is unlike any place you’ve travelled to, you partner with someone to support a cause area close to your heart, and you recognize the beauty in the interconnectedness of an ecosystem.

Oxygen for India: SBI Foundation and Samhita-CGF provide oxygen concentrators in critical districts

Oxygen for India: SBI Foundation and Samhita-CGF provide oxygen concentrators in critical districts

Samhita and CGF collaborate with SBI Foundation’s Project Breath Free to provide oxygen concentrators and other equipment to hospitals in Maharashtra, Nagaland and Manipur.

During the second wave of COVID-19, Maharashtra contributed to almost 24% of the cases in India. Other states such as Nagaland and Manipur, with weak healthcare systems, also saw a large number of cases. During this time, states across India faced a severe shortage of oxygen, one of the critical provisions that is needed to support treatment and recovery of affected patients. 

In response to this crisis, SBI Foundation launched Project Breathe India – an initiative to deploy medical equipment including oxygen concentrators and help government run and charitable hospitals meet their oxygen requirements. 

Through Project Breathe India, SBI Foundation, collaborated with Samhita and Collective Good Foundation (CGF) to deploy the equipment in districts of Maharashtra, Nagaland and Manipur. 

Samhita and CGF collaborate with companies, foundations, bilaterals and multilaterals, and social organisations to design and implement impactful social sector initiatives specialise in designing and implementing large-scale development sector projects. This partnership with SBI Foundation contributed to Samhita and CGF’s consistent and multi-stakeholder response to the COVID-19 healthcare crisis. 

In Maharashtra, SBI Foundation, Samhita and Collective Good Foundation supported two districts – Buldhana and Chandrapur. In Buldhana, in collaboration with Hunger Collective, Mahapeconet, and Rise Infinity Foundation, Samhita and CGF facilitated the supply of 35 Oxygen Concentrators to five hospitals. 15 Oxygen Concentrators were provided in Chandrapur.

Samhita and CGF also collaborated with Safe Pro Fire Services to distribute 100 oxygen cylinders and 100 flow meter devices to hospitals in Nagaland and Manipur.

Future of Pharmacies: Creating a Better Normal for Community Health

Future of Pharmacies: Creating a Better Normal for Community Health

Pharmacies lie at the intersection of the healthcare ecosystem and the small enterprise community, both of which have come under unimaginable strain since March 2020.

Samhita, Cipla and NIIF have collaborated to tap into the enormous potential of pharmacists as a key driver of community healthcare in the country.
As a first step, Samhita and Cipla surveyed 1,141 pharmacies, spanning towns and cities across all tiers of India to understand the challenges and underlying needs of pharmacists, and the support they require to facilitate better community health. The study was shaped by the insights of Nachiket Mor, PhD.

Based on insights from the report, Samhita has partnered with National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and DigiHealth to undertake a pilot project with 220 pharmacies in Mumbai and Pune regions.

As part of this pilot:

  1. A BP Monitor and weighing scale would be provided to pharmacists to carry out a screening of walk-in customers and spread awareness on hypertension, including symptoms, treatment and required lifestyle changes 
  2. Customers would be provided access to teleconsultation at the pharmacy (or through the digihealth app to be accessed via the customer’s smartphone) with doctors
  3. Digihealth, through its mobile app and pharmacy network, would nudge communities and individuals to avail testing and follow-up on their conditions

To know more about the report and project or to partner with us, please connect with us at marcom@dev.samhita.org

Collaborating against COVID-19: Rallying global support to vaccinate India

Collaborating against COVID-19: Rallying global support to vaccinate India

Through strategic partnerships, Global India Fund, Samhita, and Collective Good Foundation fight to ensure equity in the world’s largest vaccination drive

When India’s COVID-19 case count surged in April 2021, the devastation horrified the world — healthcare systems collapsed, cremation sites were overcrowded and morgues worked around the clock. The crisis was unprecedented. 

The second surge put the spotlight on the need for collective action. Immediate critical healthcare requirements such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators and hospital beds were in extremely short supply. With the fear of subsequent waves already washing through the population, it was necessary to increase long-term efforts to end the pandemic — i.e: Vaccinations.

Yet, only 3.5% of India’s 1.4 billion population was fully vaccinated at the start of the second wave in April 2021. Burdened by wastage, supply constraints, and accessibility barriers, India’s vaccination drive has been slow and staggered. To create long-term solutions to end the pandemic and supplement government efforts, Global India Fund (GIF), in collaboration with Samhita and Collective Good Foundation (CGF), launched the Together for India | #VaccinateIndia Campaign, an international fundraising initiative to support vaccination of the second-most populous country in the world.

The Together for India fundraising campaign, launched in April 2021 in response to the COVID-19 crisis in India, has rallied Indians, international humanitarians, and the Indian diaspora who want to support the equitable distribution of vaccines in India. For those most weighed down by the economic fallout of the pandemic, the toll on health becomes inescapable. They are also at an increased disadvantage at all stages of access, such as the inability to access the CoWIN portal to register for vaccination, burden on health systems to deliver at scale during vaccinations, and lack of information and healthcare support post vaccination. “We need to take a comprehensive approach to not just recovery, but also resilience and growth. As part of a holistic approach to solving India’s livelihood crisis created by the pandemic, we are focused on efforts to ramp up vaccinations for vulnerable communities. It is important to address problems in vaccine access, to ensure that no one is left behind. That’s the only way India can take a decisive step forward in this time of crisis to truly create a ‘better normal’,” says Priya Naik, CEO and Founder, Samhita.

The fundraiser focuses on marginalised and vulnerable communities and those with poor access to healthcare to tackle vaccine hesitancy; it ensures availability of vaccination material like syringes, needles, etc.; and addresses vaccine barriers like tech illiteracy and information asymmetry. “As people around the world watched the crisis unfold in India, they were eager to help in any way possible. People wanted to help their friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers. Amidst the devastation, we knew that vaccinations would offer hope and a way out of this pandemic, but that also hinged on ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines. We know that vaccinations can fight COVID-19, but we also know that everyone needs to be vaccinated — not just those who are educated or have the means. And we know that in some communities, we also have to combat vaccine hesitancy. It is only when a vast majority of India is vaccinated that we’ll know we have won the fight against COVID-19,” says Amita Vyas, Founder, Global India Fund. 

With strategic partnerships forged by Samhita and CGF, the first phase of the Together for India | #VaccinateIndia campaign is kicking off simultaneously in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Support from corporates, philanthropy, civil society, and influencers remain an essential and immediate requirement to accelerate access to vaccines at multiple locations, which will result in an increased adoption of immunisation drives and ensure compliance to COVID-19 appropriate behaviours post vaccination. 

In partnership with the Rotary Club of Pune Central and Jivika Healthcare (VaccineOnWheels), the vaccination drive in Maharashtra will be supported by the Municipal Corporation of Satara City to set up vaccination centres at the community level. The program will accelerate vaccinations in socio-economically challenged communities and free daily doses will also be made available to beneficiaries identified by the government. The vaccination project in Madhya Pradesh, executed in partnership with Transforming Rural India Foundation (TRIF), is expected to have a reach of 1,00,000 people across five blocks to increase awareness and encourage individuals to get vaccinated in nearby government-run vaccination centres. 

These strategic partnerships have gone beyond vaccines — the partnership with GIF has resulted in the donation of 400 5L Oxygen Concentrators to the Government of Punjab and 380 Oxygen Concentrators to the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department.  

In the next phase of partnerships, Samhita envisions rolling out vaccination programs across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and other parts of the country in partnership with other strategic partners. The objective is to achieve 1million vaccination doses given to those from the most vulnerable communities across the country. 

As the pandemic reached an incomprehensible scale in India, donors and diaspora from around the world have come forward to fundraise and help alleviate the situation. From corporate donations and celebrities rallying their followers, to individuals hosting fundraising events through yoga and dance classes, the pandemic has fostered collaboration from all over the world to support India. In the same vein, GIF, Samhita and CGF are inviting and nurturing new tactical partnerships to ensure vaccine equity in India — vaccines are our only hope in defeating this pandemic.

This article is written purely for the purpose of gratitude and public recognition of GIF and CGF’s philanthropy

How can CSR and philanthropy respond to the second COVID-19 wave?

How can CSR and philanthropy respond to the second COVID-19 wave?

The COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted all aspects of the economy and our lives.  For the first time ever, the focus shifted to the state of public health infrastructure, resources and quality of delivery.  It also clearly brought home the direct impact of health of a community on the nation’s economic recovery. The India Protectors’ Alliance (IPA) was a quick and agile response to the situation at hand – it quickly focussed on the needs and skills of frontline health workers (the protectors) and infrastructure needs of the healthcare systems as outlined by local administrations. The IPA today is a collaborative of 30 companies and has already crossed the milestone of impacting 500K lives.

The second wave of the pandemic is already upon us and seems to have settled in for the long haul.  By most estimates, the country shall continue to witness multiple waves till such time that the vaccination drive covers a critical mass of the population.  At IPA, we have redoubled our efforts and expanded the scope as our understanding of the needs on the ground evolves. 

IPA remains committed to responding to the immediate needs as well as strengthen the health ecosystem to better manage future health emergencies. Based on our experience of working with communities, state governments and public health experts, we have put together a list of interventions that need immediate funding and will also see long term benefits.  Some of them are detailed below:


Oxygenation has been a critical need for managing complications of COVID19 since the virus primarily attacks the lungs and upper respiratory tract of the patients. Also, as the body of knowledge about disease management grew, it was understood that oxygen support can be provided with a combination of low-flow, hi-flow oxygen concentrators and ventilators depending on the severity of the disease.

IPA has curated the a program to provide oxygen concentrators, ventilators and other equipment to small private / government hospitals. IPA is also working with over 100 implementation partners from all over the country to be able to deploy them quickly even into the rural areas.

Oxygenation equipment supports not only the COVID19 patients but also helps build future capacity of hospitals to ensure safe delivery of children, treat cardiovascular diseases, treat accidents and trauma patients and other emergencies.  


With the arrival of vaccines, we now have a real fighting chance against the virus. To get back to a semblance of normalcy, it is imperative that masses get vaccinated at the earliest possible. Currently, the vaccines are facing some supply issues but that is temporary in nature. 

With the recent announcements by the MoHFW, the vaccination program has got a big shot in the arm. 

  • More vaccine manufacturers have been given permission,
  • Age group of vaccination has been expanded to include 18years and above,
  • State governments have been given permission to procure vaccines as per local needs and
  • Vaccines are allowed to be sold on open markets. 

IPA has curated following programs to help you:

  • Vaccinate vulnerable communities in your catchment areas 
  • Workplace vaccination for corporates or stakeholder communities
  • Create awareness and educate communities about the benefits of vaccines and overcome vaccine hesitancy
  • Work with private providers to ensure everyone has vaccine access in the near future

The following programs are already underway :

  • Mass immunization COVID vaccine drive: We have already started our program in some districts of Maharashtra & AP for mobilizing marginalized communities to private hospitals & getting them registered & vaccinated. Program can be expanded to other critical cities depending on the on-ground requirement and client’s preference.
  • Mobile vaccination: Mobile unit across India with capability to roll out such unique initiatives across geographies. Our implementation partner team has already received an approval from Hon. commissioner Rajesh Patil of Pune’s PCMC. Rolling out this in Pune, expanding to tribal areas in Maharashtra and eventually Pan India.
  • IEC content and awareness program: With misinformation or no information for people living in media dark areas, our team is creating content with experts and will mobilize our on-ground teams to provide right information and support it with IVR consultation.
  • Modules for healthcare practitioners: Creation of FAQ documents, training manual for HCP to support the MoHFW and disseminating this to relevant stakeholders.

Masks & Masking

Vaccines are here but masks are more important than ever.  In fact, most experts now recommend double masking. There is an ongoing need to continuously reinforce messaging around the need to #PehnoSahi or masking right. 

IPA has curated programs focusing on:

  • Continuing to support programs such as the Billion Masks Initiative (a MIT, Standford, Deshpande Foundation, Tata Power supported program) to ramp up mask manufacturing through SHGs and connecting them to PharmEasy, Amazon and Flipkart
  • Large scale mask donations bundled with vaccines 
  • Mask + vaccine campaign with CEOs and leaders exhorting their employees and stakeholders through personal pledges / declarations, eg. “I have taken the vaccine and will continue to wear the mask because I care for you.”


Healthcare expenditure drags millions of Indians into poverty every year. The impulsive lockdowns have had a similar effect on many communities who are staggering under the double impact of loss of wages and threat of infection. More than ever, there is a need to bring in more frontline workers (sanitation workers, rag pickers, retailers, suppliers etc) under the ambit of health insurance.  IPA is working on curating an insurance product that will help communities take control of their own health and proactively seek healthcare services in the future as well.  A community which has assured access to healthcare participates in economic activity more enthusiastically and contributes to nation building.


The second wave of COVID has started affecting the villages and smaller towns, which were earlier spared the onslaught.  Access to medical help is sketchy at best especially in the rural areas.  Tele-Consultation is the fastest way to enable vulnerable and far-flung communities to access medical advice for management of mild COVID cases.  This stops the overcrowding and pressure on District Hospitals and Tertiary care hospitals in bigger cities and Metros.  With our solution partners, IPA can set this service up really quickly and this is a viable, measurable, low cost yet impactful way to make a difference in the war against COVID.

Strengthening healthcare and sanitation infrastructure

It is essential to ensure that communities have access to hygienic sanitation facilities and fully equipped healthcare facilities, even more so during these trying times.

With Samhita’s significant experience in WASH, IPA can help facilitate upgradation of infrastructure to best serve the communities that are important to you.

The India Protectors’ Alliance continues to work in mission mode to respond to strengthen the country’s fight against the coronavirus.

It would be great if we can get on a quick call to understand your priorities so that we can help you maximize your impact on the ground.  We would also like to hear if there are any specific or customized interventions that you would like us to co-create under the IPA. To know how you can help or to partner with the IPA, reach us at meera.b@dev.samhita.org or fill in the form shared below.

[hubspot type=form portal=9191947 id=3d6e8c3b-36b7-4b69-8e70-c248a021fee1]