The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is providing official development assistance (ODA) funds to a humanitarian assistance project being carried out by Japanese nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in two states in northern India, where many Tibetan asylum seekers live, sources revealed on Feb. 4. The aid project aims to improve public health in rural India. The project area includes hamlets of Tibetan refugees who fled to India from the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The ODA, therefore, in effect supports Tibetan exiles.
The project assists rural areas in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Himachal Pradesh is home to Dharamshala, where His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama lives and the Tibetan Government in Exile is headquartered.
The rural areas assisted by the ODA reportedly suffer from a constant water shortage, and the project plans to lay waterworks systems and to construct public toilets. The project is expected to assist a total of about 9,200 people, and the area is said to be home to both Indian and Tibetan hamlets.
MOFA decided to subsidize this project under the ODA framework known as “Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects,” and it concluded a contract last year for about 29.6 million yen (maximum). This reportedly is the first time that ODA has been furnished to these areas under the framework of Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects.
According to those involved, the project was originally scheduled to start in February 2020, but the spread of COVID-19 made it difficult for ODA representatives to enter the area, and construction has hardly moved forward at all.
The ODA is supporting a development cooperation project being carried out by Japanese NGOs in India, but a high-ranking official of the supra-partisan “Japan-Tibet parliamentarians league” says, “It is revolutionary for Japanese ODA to reach Tibetan refugees.” MOFA explains, “This project helps improve the living environment for people in rural India. It is not support for the Tibetan Government in Exile or Tibetan refugees.”