While the debate surrounding the security of WeChat app continues, the app proved very handy for the rural folks in Paro amid the nationwide lockdown. The app is making arrangements for reaching essential goods in rural communities easier.
Orders come in through WeChat groups created for different chiwogs administered by the respective local leaders. The groups were initially created for sharing information on meetings and other important notifications in the community. And today, when people refrain themselves from moving around abiding by the lockdown norms, such groups have come handy.
“We are using a WeChat group to communicate and help those in need of essential items. We communicate through the messengers we have for each village. For those people who do not use the app, we look for their contact numbers and personally call them to enquire about inconveniences,” said Sangay Dorji, the Mangmi of Sharpa Gewog in Paro.
The gewog administrations identified shops within its jurisdiction to supply essential items during the lockdown. In a rural setting, orders vary from a packet of matchboxes to basic edibles to mobile vouchers. No delivery charges are levied for the service.
“I requested our gewog official to get me flour and milk powder. We did not know about the lockdown. My neighbour informed me of it but by then, it was too late to go buy and stock up. However, we got the information to place orders for essential goods through our chiwog group chat and I used that,” said Namgay from Sharpa Gewog.
“We heard about how to prepare ourselves for lockdown through BBS, WeChat and Facebook. But we were not sure when it would happen and when it actually did, there was no time. We were relieved when we heard through BBS that all essentials will be delivered at our doorstep,” added Sonam Zangmo from the same gewog.
According to local government leaders, people were sensitized and asked to prepare for a possible lockdown through various channels. Yet, many were caught off guard when it actually happened.
“For a packet of milk powder or matchbox, we have to travel to places. The houses in our villages are scattered, which makes our task challenging. At the same time, it does not look appropriate for us moving around when the entire nation is under lockdown. However, we have no choice since we need to cater to our people’s needs,” said Chencho Gyeltshen, the Sharpa Gup.
Meanwhile, in the town areas of Paro, four grocery stores besides the Food Corporation of Bhutan manage the demands of residents for essential commodities. Similarly, three fair price vegetable vendors manage the supply of vegetables.