Mumbai: IKEA India (part of Ingka Group), the world’s leading Swedish home furnishings retailer announced the collaborations with partners Collective Good Foundation, Railway Children India, LabourNet & SELCO Foundation and Habitat for Humanity under its social relief project called Emergency Community Support (ECS). The initiative is a part of IKEA’s Sustainability Strategy, People and Planet Positive approach. It aims to aid in the COVID-19 relief towards vulnerable people who have lost their livelihoods and homes, such as construction workers, daily wage earners, stranded children, slum dwellers and impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative is also in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. With a budget of €500,000 for these projects from the €26 million relief fund set up last year, IKEA aims to provide these vulnerable groups displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic with ‘APlace CalledHome’. Through this theme, the company has introduced four social welfare programs- two of which will be in Mumbai, and the other two in Hyderabad and Bengaluru respectively.
Mumbai’s first intervention is in collaboration with Collective Good Foundation and Shelter Associates and is aimed at providing access to safe sanitation to the many inhabitants of Turbhe slums (Indiranagar, Ganpatipada I and II and Hanuman Nagar), Navi Mumbai. The initiative hopes to not only provide safe sanitation to slum dwellers but also educate children on appropriate hygiene behaviour through interactive and educational sessions. The project will also undertake the renovation of nine community toilets, facilitate 150 household toilets in the Turbhe slum areas; and advocate with Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) with technical support from UNICEF to expedite drainage work impacting approximately 25750 slum inhabitants in these areas.
IKEA is also supporting Railway Children India to prevent displaced children impacted by the COVID-19 from succumbing to begging and homelessness. The initiative is being coordinated at Dadar Railway station, where at-risk children are being provided hygiene safety kits, psychological support by certified counsellors, and re-integrated into society through community-based child activity learning centres, imparting non-formal and supplementary education. The project aims to create a child-friendly environment at Dadar Railway station that protects 360 children arriving alone and at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and sustainably rehabilitate them and their families by March 2022.
Commenting on the initiative, Nirmala Singh, Sustainability Manager, IKEA India, says, “IKEA is always with the many people. A better home leads to a better everyday life. Housing is a fundamental human right and home is the most important place in the world. Now more than ever, many families are in crisis as the pandemic has worsened issues for families with lower-income, and already homeless populations. Everyone deserves a place called home, and this initiative aims to further IKEA’s COVID-19 relief efforts in local communities by supporting the many people across the country.”
The third project undertaken at Bellandur in Bengaluru aims to provide an accommodation facility for on-site construction workers. The real estate sector has seen construction workers commonly endure inadequate living conditions which additionally turned out to be dangerous when faced with the COVID-19 crisis. IKEA in collaboration with an NGO consortium of Sambhav Foundation (LabourNet) and SELCO Foundation is supporting the project for the provision of safe, respectful, and optimal facilities to construction workers at Indian construction sites. This project will provide a pilot worker accommodation facility for 100 construction workers and the goal is to scale up the solution across various construction sites following the pilot. The site will run on renewable energy produced through on-site solar panels and the facility has been designed to be easily dismantled and redeployed at other construction sites. Sambhav Foundation will also run an on-site primary care clinic, which will address the healthcare needs of the workers.
In Hyderabad, IKEA and Habitat for Humanity instituted project Basti to help eradicate extreme poverty, and make human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable for daily wage earners in Basti, Jagathgiri Gutta, Hyderabad. Under this project, 75 homes impacting over 350 individuals will be repaired over a period of six months. Basic sanitation facilities will be built and provided for the daily wage earners, who otherwise are not afforded this necessity, and are forced to live in unhygienic conditions.