Most villages have completely closed themselves off to outsiders in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
Morung Express News
Kohima | April 2
The Prime Minister’s announcement on the nation-wide lockdown on March 24 midnight called “every state, every district, every lane, every village” to stay home for three weeks.
The depth and breadth of such a challenge soon made villagers in Nagaland to play key role in ensuring the 21 day’s lockdown by moving towards implementing no entry policies, ensuring self-sufficiency of food and preparing for quarantine and isolation facilities.
Restrictions on outsiders
Almost all the villages of Southern Angami region have declared a strict policy of ‘non permission for outsiders’, including village members dwelling in the town or persons not belonging to the village. As such, roads leading to khels are barricaded with bamboo poles and posters announcing restriction of vehicles/pedestrians from plying.
Reporters were quickly sent away after being identified as outsiders. Speaking from a distance, a villager said that “we are not even allowing other khels to come to our khel," asking the reporters to leave as soon as possible.” The village wore a deserted look.
In Kigwema village, farmers are not allowed to attend to their potato fields located in the Japfu peak foothills. However, villagers can work in their fields or forests which do not pass or cross the national highway, where terrace fields are mostly located.
A self-sufficient Kedima village has restricted house to house visitation. “No farmer is allowed to drive their vehicle to the fields,” a villager informed, while stating that working in the field is not barred. In Southern Angami area, with the presence of two military cantonments, any interaction or exchange is also banned. A notification from Jakhama Village Council stated: “Any person or individual, both local and non-local, having access in the army cantonment shall be banned.” For Sakhabama, no villager is allowed to go the army camp.
Several villages, where life is intrinsically connected to farming, are self-sufficient enough to deal with the lockdown period. It was informed that people in Kedima and Sakhabama have not been forced to go to town for groceries. “We cultivate all kinds of vegetable and practice livestock farming,” a village dweller from Kedima expressed.
Quarantine zones, facilities and awareness
Kigwema village has set up a quarantine centre for those who have arrived in the village recently. With support from village council, youth and student body and donation from individuals, the quarantine centre housed at the Government High School has 4 occupants each of whom is provided with separate rooms and toilets.
“Utmost care is taken to sanitize their rooms 3 times a day,” an attendant who is a student leader stated. Jakhama village has earmarked a jungle area with makeshift tents and other facilities as quarantine area and a prayer centre as isolation site for the time being.
It is not surprising that the region is also deprived of medical facilities and requisite infrastructure. As such, the attendants at the quarantine centre have requested medical workers at Primary Health Centre, Kigwema to disinfect and sanitize the area; however, no help has come so far.
Sharing close borders with the state of Manipur and many villages lying along the National Highway, no disinfecting or sanitation drive has reached the region till date. In a village, the constituency MLA had donated masks and hand sanitizers.
The villages are also using its public address system to spread awareness and sensitization.
The council members of Phesama village, which is closest to Kohima town, invited senior medical practitioner from the Health Department to provide awareness on the COVID-19 pandemic in all the khels. A committee has also been set up by the village council to make important announcements, especially in the evening when villagers have returned from the fields.