Rural Women Technology Park (RWTP) under CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology in Jorhat, Assam, have roped in rural women to prepare various products such as hand sanitisers, home-made face masks and liquid disinfectants, which will be distributed for free among family members and poor people in nearby villages to help combat Covid-19 infection in the area.

“Meeting a challenge such as Covid-19 needs strong community participation and support. Self-help groups and dedicated NGOs are perfect vehicles in the current scenario for awareness creation, introducing relevant solutions, making and distributing the low-tech items such as masks and disinfectants,” said Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The Department’s Science for Equity, Empowerment and Development (SEED) division which has supported the initiative.

Rural women from the region were trained to produce home-made mask from traditional ‘Gamocha’ (a traditional Assamese cotton towel) by RWTP. The design of the homemade mask has been finalised, around 150 Gamochas purchased and two sewing machines were arranged (6 home-made masks can be made from one Gamocha).

It has been proposed that the women be paid at the rate of ₹15 per mask. Apart from this, 200 liters of liquid disinfectant was being produced. The raw materials required for liquid disinfectant like Dettol, ethanol, glycerine, and essential oils have been acquired.

RWTP trained women before the lockdown came into force on March 25. The participating women prepared about 50 litres of hand sanitiser and 160 litres of liquid disinfectant which have been distributed among the 60 women participants and their family members.

RWTP also prepared posters and leaflets on ‘Covid-19 : Do’s and Don’ts’ in Assamese to create awareness about the coronavirus, and precautionary measures that need to be taken during the pandemic.