The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it unprecedented crises on social, economic, and humanitarian levels. NGOs that were extensively working on various causes over the years stepped up to the forefront as both, responders and mobilisers during the pandemic. They have been directly supplementing the Government’s efforts to bring relief to the most susceptible communities and mobilising resources to aid relief work across the country during these difficult times.
Importance of NGOs during the pandemic
NGOs and community-based organisations that operate at the grassroots level have played a pivotal role in filling gaps as the nation began tackling the pandemic’s extraordinary consequences. The importance of NGOs cannot be underestimated. Having on-ground reach, especially in remote areas, nonprofits have been crucial in reaching all kinds of assistance to those most in need – women, children, daily wage earners, migrant workers, slum dwellers, the homeless, and the elderly. Their presence in the target areas, their established local network, knowledge, and experience are significant in reaching affected populations during the pandemic.
Core projects took a backseat
Due to the magnitude of the pandemic and the corresponding measures to counter its adverse effects, NGOs channelised their resources and efforts towards COVID-related initiatives. The implication of this was that their core work which revolved around critical socio-economic causes such as education, hunger, nutrition, poverty, water security, sanitation, women empowerment, non-COVID healthcare, etc., had taken a backseat.
Additionally, the pandemic has set back the progress made over the recent years on several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).
Importance of NGOs in future
As the nation attempts to recuperate from the pandemic’s dire socio-economic effects, NGOs will play a critical role yet again. Continuing to use their capabilities for mobilisation and community engagement in the post-COVID world, NGOs’ social projects and multi-sectoral initiatives of concerned actors will need to be revived to ensure the welfare of the underserved sections of society. Long-term, sustainable social enterprises will be crucial in vitalising socio-economic indicators and, consequently, bringing India back on track in its contribution towards attaining the global SDGs.
Reorienting attention towards causes beyond the immediate COVID-19 pandemic is an important starting point for NGOs to resume or implement their core programmes for the welfare of the beneficiaries who rely on them. It is essential for all involved stakeholders – NGOs, civil society organisations, the Government, and the corporate sector – to keep long-term social projects in focus, to bring about a sustainable multiplier effect on social, economic, and humanitarian impact.
NGOs in India have been the drivers of far-reaching welfare initiatives and key players in assisting the Government’s social programmes. While they stepped up and continue to provide their resources and services to address issues aggravated by the pandemic, they will be crucial in ensuring people’s welfare and the nation’s development in the post-COVID world.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
The author has over 25 years of work experience and has been associated with leading multinationals like Philips, ABB, Webex Communications (now CISCO), etc. He is an Eisenhower Fellow for Innovation and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program from Wharton Business School. He has been inducted in the hall of distinguished alumni leaders by NMIMS.