Activating Voices of the Community for COVID-19 Relief in Pune in Maharashtra, India

Pune is one of the cities most affected by COVID-19. Low-income communities are one of the most impacted segments during this time. In end-March, Pune City Connect conducted a large scale listening exercise with 200+ families across over 30 communities.

The top 3 concerns raised by communities were: Food (groceries, vegetables and LPG), Finances (lack of money) and Uncertainty (normalcy of life and livelihood).



PCC is working to identify and distribute essential goods to vulnerable families from slum communities in Pune to aid them in the current pandemic situation.

A single kit of essential goods include 5kg of rice, 5kg of wheat flour, 1 liter of cooking oil, and other dry goods such as lentils, tea, sugar, spices and bathing soap). One kit is able to support a family of 4 members for two weeks.

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Under the Digital Empowerment track, PMC and PCC have trained 48,000 people in the last 5 years. We believe this is the time to put a renewed thrust into the mission of 100% Digital Empowerment in Pune. The digital divide needs to be bridged in order to offer possibilities of inclusive citizenship and growth.

We would like support in scaling up of virtual and digital centres in the city to meet the goal of 200,000 citizens to be digitally empowered.

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The ‘Lighthouse’ program has been piloted in a new avatar with 30% of the program offered online. In the online mode, we are experimenting with a “flipped classroom” model to make it learner-centric, improving the employability skills for the participants.

We solicit support in refining the strategy and financially to scale the Lighthouses and enable 25,000 youth to actively contribute to the economy and lead a life of ‘dignity and opportunity’ by 2022.

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Pune is one of the cities severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, and citizens from low-communities have been experiencing multi-fold vulnerabilities and hardships. The pandemic has resulted in situations of uncertainty, fear, and overwhelm. The lockdown due to the pandemic has created a deeper emotional impact for marginalized communities, who were already fighting with critical structural challenges of inequality, deprivation, and poverty.

Pune City Connect (PCC) has responded to the situation quickly and has been working on relief initiatives over the last 5 weeks as well as reflecting on the strategy for relief to recovery and embracing the “new normal”. Watch a video of Pune City Connect’s CEO, Ruchi Mathur, sharing PCC’s story during COVID times.

Accordingly, PCC has undertaken the following two initiatives since 4th April 2020:

1) Helpline for Low Income Communities
Providing a helpline for awareness of COVID-19, reasons for lockdown, do’s and don’ts, addressing fake news and misinformation, dissemination of information on Government initiatives, understanding health-related and other concerns

The helpline is being run by PCC with support from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Connecting (a distress support NGO). PCC staff and student volunteers are managing the helpline. PMC has provided space, infrastructure and information support to run the helpline. We have received over 3000 calls till date where information on food distribution and medical services has been provided.

2) Distribution of Essential Groceries
Distribution of essential groceries in a single kit (5kg rice, 5kg wheat flour, 1 liter cooking oil, lentils, tea, sugar, spices and bathing soap) to most vulnerable families from slum communities in Pune. One kit will support a family of 4 members for two weeks.

This initiative is being implemented with support from PMC, which is providing logistical support and vendor suggestions. PCC has been responsible for the identification of and distribution to the most vulnerable and obtaining financial support from individual citizens and corporates.


Corporates, volunteers and student staff. Pune City Connect is currently seeking other partners to scale this initiative to reach more vulnerable families.


The recipients have been identified through:

  • Our database of Lighthouse students where we have focused on identifying vulnerable families. The Lighthouses of Pune is a sustainable livelihood program run for low-income communities, and 9000 students have been enrolled till date.
  • Details of other vulnerable families that come to light either through personal information or through the Helpline
  • PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation) requests that are being received for specific areas where they feel urgent help is required. In such cases, the Grocery kits are being handed over to a community coordinator identified by helpline volunteer/PMC official.

In all other cases i.e. where distribution to each individual is by Pune City Connect, a code is shared through WhatsApp which has to be checked before actual handing over of the kit. Contact details are taken, code verification is done and a picture taken as documentation of every kit distributed.

More information on this initiative: COVID relief report_PCC_April 2020

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