NGOs become helpless due to COVID-19

Covid-19 Pandemic

The pandemic, subsequent lockdowns and lack of access to funds have hit NGOs in Hyderabad and Warangal. 

Warangal: Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) are struggling to get the funding they need to help people. They are not getting enough donations during the pandemic and even the government schemes have not helped.

Narsing Rao, who has been with Sahara Supporting Poor and Need, an NGO in Hyderabad for eight years, said, “We got some funding last year, but these days we are not receiving any funds from donors and contributors. Due to the second wave of Covid-19, around 50 to 60 percent of NGOs across India are unable to help people.”

The other way of getting funds is through foreign contributions. Under the  Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), these NGOs can get funds from foreign companies and donors.

But, explained  Narsing Rao, since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power FCRA and old accounts from various banks were closed and the NGOs were told to open accounts only at the main branch of State Bank of India (SBI), Delhi. So, they were not able to access the donations.

He said, “It was a big task for small NGOs to get funding through the FCRA as they could not open their accounts at the main branch in Delhi.” 

Along with FCRA, schemes like the National Environment Awareness Campaign, and Council for Advancement of Rural Technology and the Child Labour Project Society were also stopped.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a press release on May 19, 2021, stating that the MHA had given permission to current (FCRA) customers to open their account at the New Delhi Main Branch (NDMB) of SBI. But, a recent article shows that due to the pandemic only 16 percent of registered NGOs have active bank accounts with SBI’s main Delhi branch.

Bala Janaki Ram, an economist based in Bangalore said that NGOs are not receiving funds from government schemes because they are not able to register under those schemes.

Radhakrishnan from Chennai, a journalist, tweeted that New Delhi’s Main SBI branch was unable to process the requests. That is why the NGOs have requested the Union Home Ministry to allow the existing arrangements to continue. 

Just like Narsing Rao’s NGO, other NGOs are also facing a similar fate.

Dr. Anita of Sahara NGO, who has been helping people In Hyderabad for 10 years, can’t help people in this situation now. “Before Coronavirus, we helped many people from Sahara donations and I have been distributing water to a lot of people, but now when people are asking me to help again, I have no donors to help them because of Covid-19,” Anita said.

“During the time of the pandemic, health sector NGOs are busy helping people but when it comes to non-health sectors NGOs, including small NGOs they are badly impacted by Covid-19,” said Swapna, Warangal District Programme Manager in Telangana.

Vanaja Konga who runs Pratistha Seva Samithi organizations in Warangal, said that as compared to before the lockdown, the NGOs are facing the hardest time to get funds now in the time of pandemic. “During the second wave of Covid-19, we have stopped helping people because there are no resources now. In this situation we can’t assemble our people either. We are only distributing rations to a few needy people.”