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Mazdoor Sathi (Helping hand for the workers)

A helping hand for informal and migrant workers to secure them their entitlements and the access to means of livelihoods in a safe manner

Photo of Rohan Katepallewar
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Where are you located (country)?


Where are you located (city or town)?

New Delhi

You are submitting as:

  • An organization

If part of an organization or group, what is the name?

Gram Vaani Community Media (OnionDev Technologies Pvt. Ltd)

What is your organization or group’s website? (If applicable)

How does your proposed solution support emerging middle-class families in urban areas in the Global South to adapt and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 crisis and nationwide lockdown in India led to more than 25 million formal and informal workers losing their means of livelihoods. 10 million of them, who had migrated to different urban areas for work, were forced to return to their native places (Official government records & CMIE report). All these workers encountered different problems at different stages of work disruptions, travel, settlement etc. We propose an automated - IVRS based information and engagement service for these workers, that can respond in customized ways based on their immediate needs. The platform will categorize workers based on their employment status and provide customized support by sending actionable information to them in the form of audio messages recorded in local language. It will also collect structured data on their problems in a longitudinal manner for advocacy petitions. This freely available service for informal and migrant workers will also engage them in collective action for grievance redressal campaigns through a large network of response partners.

What stage of development is your Idea in?

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

What tier are you applying to?

  • Global South Open Prize Tier: Open to submissions focused on any country in the Global South, at any stage of development.

Do you intend to implement your idea in Peru?

  • Not sure

In what countries do you expect to implement your idea initially (in the first 2 years)?


Feasibility: where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve accomplished to date, what barriers to implementation might exist, and what next steps you plan to take.

The Gram Vaani team has been working in several states of India since 2012, and has rich experience in supporting civil society institutions to leverage voice-based participatory media platforms. The platforms together support approximately 100,000 monthly unique users over the Mobile Vaani IVR and app. Amidst the COVID19 lockdown, the Gram Vaani team collaborated with diverse stakeholders to support migrant and informal workers stranded in the cities with providing food-kits and access to subsidized food schemes of the government, cash transfers, and registration for travel back home on special trains initiated for this purpose. As these workers reached back home, the Gram Vaani volunteers in rural areas helped ensure that quarantine centers established for returning migrant workers were clean and providing basic services. Following on, the team deployed a series of surveys and supported more than 400 workers in securing employment under several government schemes. Similarly, in urban areas, within a short time span of three weeks, a cohort of around 590 workers were conveyed about the job opportunities available in the construction sector. The team now wishes to build on this work and offer a dedicated service to workers by linking them with a customized support system for safe and secure livelihood. We are also expanding our network of response partners to reach out to new geographies and provide assistance on a wider variety of issues

Viability: what needs to be true for you to be able to implement your idea? What stakeholders, partnerships and resources might be required to implement this solution?

The accepted unit of analysis for assisting informal and migrant workers is to think in terms of migration corridors and the industrial sector. Currently with our presence in four North Indian states and urban industrial areas of Delhi NCR and Tiruppur (Tamil Nadu), we were able to mobilize support in two major migration corridors of India. Additionally, through partners we were able to provide support in the western Indian corridor and locally in several Tamil Nadu districts as well. We are currently building new partnerships with civil society organizations to deepen our impact in our current corridors of operation, and expand to new corridors. In addition, we are collaborating with multiple state governments. These collaborations will help us mobilize faster action on worker grievances, and also expand our reach to more workers through government led communication drives and field cadre. We specifically aim to work on three aspects to improve safety and security in livelihoods for migrant workers - a. Stronger social protection mechanisms, b. Stronger enforcement of better working conditions, c. Better living conditions at the destination. To work on the above aspects, we want to expand our team of community volunteers supporting migrant workers and their households, and to expand our partnerships with additional civil society organizations. We also want to engage with human rights lawyers who can take forward petitions through the legal system.

Adaptability: how does your idea adapt to frequent changes within the context you are implementing, due to COVID-19? Consider the rapidly shifting government policies, and healthcare economic realities that might influence end users.

Our work is centered entirely on responding in a quick and agile manner to changing government conditions. We were able to pivot successfully during the COVID-19 lockdown in India, and leverage our platforms for a. Awareness and best practices in health: We collaborated with national and international public health experts and constantly developed new audio modules in 10+ languages to inform the communities on the changing nature of pandemic as well as updated guidelines issued by WHO and national government. Within just four months, we reached 2 million unique users. b. Campaigns on access to relief measures: #notstatusquo We ran dedicated campaign on our various channels (including social media) based on the problems we heard that people faced with accessing social protection measures. c. Relief and coordination support for migrant workers - We also collaborated with trade union partners to facilitate unorganized workers to get registered under welfare boards, and avail cash assistance d. Special focus on child nutrition: Through multiple rounds of surveys, we tracked child nutrition schemes at the local level and escalated the issues to the district administration Thus, we aim to push forward our agile solution remotely, gather & convey demands in a collective voice, and advocate for stronger social protection while at the same time a careful opening up of work is resumed. Our offline presence through volunteers and field partners helps us remain agile & relevant.

Attachments (1)

mazdoor sathi v3.pdf

A deck summarizing the Mazdoor Sathi concept and various use cases


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