Oxfam India’s humanitarian work will be severely impacted
In reaction to the Government of India’s decision to refuse renewal of Oxfam India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration, Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India said:
“The restriction will severely affect our ongoing crucial humanitarian and social work in 16 states across the country. This includes setting up oxygen plants, providing lifesaving medical and diagnostic equipment such as oxygen cylinders and ventilators, and delivering lifesaving food to the most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Oxfam India has been working in public interest with the government, communities, and frontline workers in the country for decades now. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxfam India joined hands with health departments, district administrations, and ASHA workers across the nation to provide life-saving equipment and support.
“We are also working with various state governments to ensure bridging of the learning gap in school education due to COVID-19. We have worked to enhance women’s livelihood and worked with forest dwellers to ensure that they are not denied their rights. We have worked in some of the most flood-prone districts to make communities resilient and provide a lasting solution. The Ministry of Home Affairs decision to deny renewal of FCRA registration will severely hamper these collaborations which were providing relief to those who needed it the most during times of crisis,
“Over the years, our work has always been in the public interest and guided by the principle of creating lasting solutions to address the injustice of poverty, to leave no one behind, and to end discrimination and create a free and just society. The MHA’s refusal to renew Oxfam India’s FCRA registration will not reduce Oxfam India’s commitment to serve the vulnerable communities in-country and uphold values enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Oxfam India will reach out to the MHA and will urge them to lift the funding restrictions to ensure vulnerable communities keep receiving the support they need at this critical time of the pandemic.”
As per the list released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 01 January 2022, Oxfam India’s FCRA registration renewal request has been denied which means that Oxfam India will not be able to receive foreign funds for any of its work in India from 01 January 2022.
COVID-19 Response by Oxfam India
This development severely hampers Oxfam India’s COVID-19 response ‘Mission Sanjeevani’ which is one of the largest among NGOs in India. Under the initiative, Oxfam India provided 6 Oxygen generating plants and distributed over 13,388 lifesaving medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders, BiPAP Machines, concentrators, and ventilators, over 116,957 safety and PPE kits, over 9929 diagnostic equipment such as thermometers and oximeters, and 20,000 testing kits in 16 states. We reached over 141 district-level hospitals, 171 Primary Health Centres, and 167 Community Health Centres.
We trained and provided safety kits to over 48,000 ASHA workers in 9 states, who are the backbone of the primary healthcare system. We have delivered food ration to over 5.76 lakh people. And made cash transfers to over 10,000 people to the tune of INR 3.53 Crores to help them with their immediate needs during the pandemic. These include helping the most vulnerable communities including transgenders, sex workers, miners, rag pickers, cancer survivors, survivors of domestic violence, weavers, fisherfolk, construction workers, and those affected by floods and cyclones. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. As India stares at a possible third wave due to the Omicron variant, the restrictions on accessing funds will hamper our efforts to provide support in strengthening the public healthcare system.
Since March 2020, Oxfam India was at the forefront whenever Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon NGOs and civil society to join the fight against COVID-19 by helping the government to strengthen health services and accelerate the pace of vaccination. The Supreme Court also acknowledged the contribution of NGOs in providing relief during the pandemic.
Rapid Response to Natural Disasters and Crisis
Oxfam India’s humanitarian team has been one of the first to respond to cyclones, floods, landslides, and earthquakes. This year we reached out to over 8000 people in Assam, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and West Bengal. Since 2008, Oxfam India has provided relief to lakhs of people through its disaster relief response. This includes crucial food aid, water, hygiene kits, shelter kits and lifesaving equipment.
Development Work for Nation Building
Oxfam India’s programmes and interventions are aimed at achieving overall development of the poorest states in India. Our work has presence in 109 districts of 6 states of India – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Jharkhand. Apart from humanitarian work, Oxfam India has worked with some of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities to ensure education to all, especially girl child and to provide multi-lingual education to tribal children. Our education programmes have helped more than 90,000 children to receive quality education in the last five years, and it continues to work towards bridging learning losses due to the pandemic and lockdowns.
We have worked with over 11,000 women to strengthen their livelihood; these include women farmers, fisherfolk and artisans many of whom have also set up producer companies. In the last five years alone, we have set up 11 Women Support Centres and reached out to 3.48 lakh women and girls through our campaign and programmes to address Violence Against Women. To improve public health, Oxfam India’s programmes are pushing for free medicines, patients’ rights and improving quality of healthcare for all. These programmes serve crucial public interests and serve communities which lag behind in development.
Oxfam India has worked for the forest rights of the tribal communities as well as other traditional forest dwellers. In the last 5 years, we have worked with over 40,000 tribes and forest dwellers in Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and our work has borne fruit — 2975 Individual Forest Rights, 27 Community Forest Rights and 20 Community Rights titles were received. We have worked closely with the National and State Disaster Management Authorities to contribute to risk-informed development planning as well as draw up DRR Road Maps for states like Assam and Bihar.
Oxfam India has worked to bridge inequalities and end discrimination not just through its work on the ground but also through research and knowledge building. Our Inequality Reports over the years have covered a gamut of topics from the unpaid care work of women to the state of employment. Our latest Inequality Report this year, ‘India’s Unequal Healthcare Story’, took a deep dive into how access to healthcare and the health parameters varied for different sections of the society.
Legacy of Oxfam in India
While Oxfam India became a fully Indian organisation in 2008 with prominent citizens of India as its board members, Oxfam had been working in India since 1951. Throughout these seven decades, the organisation has always upheld Indian laws, propagated the country’s constitutional values and worked tirelessly for the people of India.
Oxfam came to India to provide famine relief in Bihar in 1951. Since then, we have been participating in India’s nation-building process in different ways and we are proud of it. Oxfam’s support to Amul, the dairy cooperative society based in Anand, Gujarat in the 1960s helped it to become the largest milk brand in India and one of the largest food products in the world. In 1971, it recruited doctors and medical students to provide medical assistance to refugees coming in India from East Pakistan.
During the Kargil war, Oxfam provided crucial relief material to communities on the Indian side of the border. Oxfam was at the forefront of the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts after Tsunami hit the Tamil Nadu coast in 2005. Oxfam India has in the last 70 years saved millions of people affected due to floods, cyclones, and earthquakes. And when the pandemic struck, we were on the ground with hot cooked meals for the migrant workers within days of the announcement of the lockdown in March 2020. We haven’t looked back since.
Oxfam India’s international affiliates have always joined hands whenever call for help has been sent out by the people of India. As recently as in May 2021, all Oxfam affiliates in 21 countries mobilised significant resources to combat the devastating second wave and mitigate the suffering of the people in India.