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A small Malay community with no permanent housing lives by the railtracks, drawn by the proximity of Slave Island. They are joined by recent evictees from Java Lane and other areas awaiting homes. Credit: Abdul Halik Azeez.

South Asia Collective Covid-19 Support Grants

9 April 2020

Note: we are no longer accepting applications for this call.

While the Covid-19 pandemic affects wider society across South Asia, those who face existing structural discrimination and social and economic exclusion, including minority communities, are particularly vulnerable to its most devastating impacts in the short and longer term. In recent weeks, concerns surrounding the epidemic have been mobilised to scapegoat already marginalised and stigmatised communities in South Asia. Media coverage and wider public discourse on and offline has blamed the spread of Covid-19 on minority groups, in some cases escalating to hate speech against and targeting of already marginalised  groups. There have also been reports of disinformation campaigns addressed at minorities, sharing advice which contradicts official guidance regarding Covid-19 in a deliberate attempt to exacerbate confusion. Meanwhile, government and other responses to Covid-19 appear to have been designed without adequate consideration of the specific issues that minorities, indigenous peoples, and other marginalised populations face, which risks further exacerbating existing social and economic inequalities. There have also been reports of emergency relief not reaching those most marginalised, including those who lack adequate documentation.

In response to these developments, the South Asia Collective is launching a sub-grant programme to support short-term projects which examine and address the specific issues that minorities are facing within the sub-region in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, this grant programme aims to support initiatives in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and/or Sri Lanka which align with the activities stipulated below. Please note that unfortunately this grant cannot be used to cover short-term humanitarian needs (e.g. delivery of food or medical supplies, housing needs, cash or income replacement).

Possible activities and approaches:

Below is a list of the types of initiatives this grant programme could support.

This list is not complete, but if you are unsure if your idea fits the grant call please send us an email at the address listed below with a short description before completing a full application.

  • Documentation of, and advocacy on, the specific issues minorities face as a consequence of Covid-19, as well as the policy and social responses to it (e.g. gaps in access to emergency measures where they exist due to range of factors such as absence of documentation, geographic location, or wider discrimination; online and offline hate speech; discrimination in the design or implementation of Covid-19 containment or response mechanisms.
  • Public campaigns to spread awareness about Covid-19, mitigation strategies, and access to support amongst minority communities (e.g. engagement with religious or other minority leaders where appropriate; translation of information into minority languages; public radio or other community campaigns).
  • Engagement with media (traditional and/or social) to address and combat misinformation, or highlight minority dynamics of the Covid-19 pandemic (e.g. public information or counter-narrative campaigns through radio programmes or social media; sensitization of journalists; release and targeted distribution of press statements to raise awareness of the issues affecting minorities)
  • Development of tracking mechanisms to monitor the spread of Covid-19 amongst remote, highly excluded, or hard to reach groups and to document effects of both of the virus and containment measures on minority communities. This can include the provision of basic mobile phones and data/credit in contexts where a whole community would have no other means of communication with the authorities and human rights defenders during a lock down.


Please note that this grant can also be used to support pre-existing initiatives that align with its focus.

Initiatives which focus on the short-term provision of humanitarian support unfortunately cannot be funded by this grant.


  • Timeframe: Projects may run for a maximum of 3-months from the time they are issued (early May 2020)
  • Grant size: The amount available for each project will be between 750 EUR to 1,000 EUR
  • Please note that all projects should respect existing official guidance to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
  • Geographic scope: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka

Your proposal is eligible for consideration only if it complies with the following criteria.

  • Projects in the following countries are eligible under this call: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
  • All applicants should be registered as legal entities or be part of a registered entity/network in the respective country where they operate.
  • All applicants must have the ability to receive funding.

We particularly encourage minority-led initiatives to apply.


How to apply  

Complete the SAC Covid-19 Support Grant Application form in English, and draft budget (please find the appropriate one to download below), and return by email to [email protected]. Please include “Application: Covid Subgrants” in your email subject.

The deadline for applications is Thursday 23 April at 17.00 IST. 

If you have any questions about the application process should be sent to the same email. Please include “Inquiry” as your email subject.

Please send proposal and all supporting documents in ONE email.

 width=This call is part of the project “Supporting Religious Pluralism across South Asia“, which is funded by the European Union. This content is the sole responsibility of Minority Rights Group and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.