The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected low-income communities. As lockdowns and other public health measures restrict people’s movements, they also cause many of the most vulnerable to lose their jobs and income. The poor, the elderly, women, and people with special needs became even more vulnerable to problems such as hunger and malnutrition, and health measures such as lockdowns and social distancing made it difficult for relief workers to be present on the ground. So far, NGOs and aid agencies have not been able to address the needs of all the vulnerable and underserved communities.
Towards a Solution
Crowdfunding has become a popular way for the community to help in the wake of disasters, with pages launched to help those affected directly. To support the poor and less fortunate people, Aspire to Innovate (a2i) has launched a crowdfunding app named ekDesh, along with a website through a2i’s Digital Financial platform. By fundraising for COVID-19 relief efforts, or donating to a coronavirus relief fund, people can do their part and provide much-needed support and aid.
The public health measures that are most effective for fighting COVID-19 involve restrictions to movement, social distancing and lockdowns. Such disruptions to daily life put vulnerable communities in an even more vulnerable situation, where they need vital medical help and day-to-day items to pull through this new threat. ekDesh, the first crowdfunding platform in Bangladesh, has brought together small contributions from people from all walks of life in order to play a major role in helping the underprivileged in Bangladesh.
The platform institutionalizes small contributions in order to fulfill people's dreams, solve problems and aid the disadvantaged. ekDesh has created a bridge between all parties, making it possible for a person to easily provide financial grants or funds to any person or organization from anywhere, at any time. Mobile banking, credit cards or internet banking - any means are available to get to your desired person or organization safely and securely. Donations from more than 640 donors and 09 partner organizations have amounted to a total of around 6 lakhs (over USD7,000)
Through this situational approach a strong and sustainable public service delivery model has been established which could be used and further expanded to help vulnerable communities in any emergency. The solution can easily be replicated to ensure emergency support in any country with telecommunication facilities, and it would serve in two different ways: as an instant complementing funding alternative for facing ongoing challenges, and helping achieve the visionary goal of Sustainable Development, specially SDG1 (No Poverty).