India’s Policy Response to COVID-19 and the Gendered Impact on Urban Informal Workers in Delhi NCR: Thematic Brief 3: Policy Responses and the Impact on Food Security
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The lockdown and subsequent labour exodus disrupted the supply chain of essential commodities, with grain markets being closed and oil and rice mills operating at limited strength in many cities. This also impacted the transport of goods to wholesalers and retailers. In June 2020, the food supply situation was further complicated by a cyclone in eastern India. At this time, the Delhi government submitted in court that it had deposited money with the Food Corporation of India for release of grains, rice and other essentials, but noted that there was a “glitch in the supply chain” as ration had to be diverted by the FCI to meet the needs of states impacted by the cyclone. The impact was also seen in access to rations owing to loss of income, and curtailed supply chains leading to a spike in food inflation. Researchers have also commented on the relationship between food insecurity and poor mental health of women. A researcher, who was also helping with the Hunger Helpline Centre in Delhi NCT, mentioned during a KII. There was a palpable sense of increased mental stress noticed among women as they felt a larger sense of responsibility towards ensuring there is enough food for everyone in the household. Furthermore, various studies have also noted that gender norms often play a role in the distribution of food within a household, with women often eating the least, last and which gets significantly worse during times of economic hardships and other public crises. This also has a severe impact on their health and nutrition.