It’s been two years since India has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the new cases and death toll have dropped, India still has to totally recover from the unprecedented disruption caused by the pandemic. The country has reported over 43 million Covid cases and close to 517,000 deaths in the past two years. In the face of all this, civic society organisations have been stepping up to make a difference and help the underserved. In an extension of this, Oxfam India reaffirms its commitment in helping India recover by providing relief to communities in need through rations, life-saving equipment, strengthening of the public healthcare system, and measures to bridge the learning gap among children across 16 states in the country.
Amitabh Behar, CEO, of Oxfam India said, “As we enter the third year of pandemic, Oxfam India reaffirms its commitment to continue to provide relief and support the civil society, communities, frontline workers, and the government’s efforts in helping India to recover from the pandemic. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic years, Oxfam India has worked with respective state and district administrations and reached diverse communities in need. These include transgenders, sex workers, miners, rag pickers, cancer survivors, survivors of domestic violence, weavers, fisherfolk, construction workers, and those affected by floods and cyclones. The food ration kits alone have reached more than 6 lakh people and livelihoods interventions have helped 81 women’s Self-Help Groups.”
Even before the lockdown began in 2020, Oxfam India’s humanitarian team started planning ‘Mission Sanjeevani’ which is one of India’s largest non-governmental responses to COVID-19 spread across 16 states. Oxfam India has provided lifesaving medical and diagnostic equipment to 150 District Hospitals, 172 Primary Health Centres, and 166 Community Health Centres in 16 states. Seven oxygen plants have been set up and made operational across the country, the latest being at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.
Oxfam India has reached out to more than 64993 ASHA workers across 10 states by building their capacities and providing crucial equipment. This means the organisation has provided the thermal gun with batteries, pulse oximeter, 5 sets of nasal masks, 100 surgical masks, 2 sets of reusable gloves, and 20 sets of disposable gloves to almost 6% of ASHAs in the country.
Oxfam India has provided unconditional cash transfers to more than 12 thousand households amounting to more than INR 5.44 Cr. Through 15 other significant projects, Oxfam India has helped more than 1.5 million people comprising mainly Dalits, Adivasis, minorities, and women and girls in 9 states, 25 districts, and approximately 300 villages during this period.
“Oxfam India has been working with government and communities during the biggest crisis in the history of independent India. During these tough times, our teams have been helping to strengthen the government and civil society’s relief work and ensuring that no one is left behind,” said Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India.
Reaching the most vulnerable during tough times
The state and union governments in India started programs to help people during the pandemic through various schemes and initiatives. But many communities and underserved areas are left to fend for themselves in the middle of a pandemic due to gaps in the government effort to provide relief. Oxfam India’s efforts have helped to fill these gaps. This included the provision of relief material to migrant fisherfolk community (Gujarat), transpersons (Kolkata), homeless population (Delhi), sugarcane workers (Maharashtra), tea garden workers (Assam), Cyclone-affected families (Sunderbans in West Bengal and Odisha), artisans such as weavers (Assam) and dholak makers (UP), domestic workers (Delhi), Pak Hindu refugees (Delhi), Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (Chhattisgarh), Cancer patients (Delhi), migrant workers (Bihar) and daily wage workers.
“The members of the transgender community have no identity like Aadhar card or PAN card. Hence the loss of our family and friends is not being recorded. Nothing was being done for those who are dependent on sex work or begging. Our organisation Kolkata Rista along with Oxfam India started providing relief materials like dry rations to members of the transgender community during the second wave of COVID-19,” said Dr. Santosh, Secretary and Executive Director of Kolkata Rista.
Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India said, “Oxfam has been part of India’s growth story since 1951. The organisation has played a key role in assisting the country to recover from famines, earthquakes, cyclones, and tsunamis. Oxfam India continues to work on building people’s resilient livelihood, access to education and health and a gender just society. We remain firmly committed to doing as much as we can to accelerate India’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”