While the Initiative concluded in the first half of 2014, the impact realised as a result of the Initiative has not. Thanks to the combined efforts of 27 partner organisations, over 9,500 people have been freed and over 500,000 people in vulnerable communities are now more resilient, being better equipped and more engaged in the fight against slavery and trafficking.
In addition to the lives directly impacted, the program realised several other goals. Recognising that the need far exceeded the capacity of local organisations, there was an intentional effort to increase the capacity of organisations already combating trafficking and to bring more NGOs into the space. Both goals were realised, as the program impact reflects: in 2011, over 130,000 people benefitted, including rescue and/or rehabilitation of over 2,000 people. By 2013, the final full year of the program, those numbers had more than doubled, with over 271,000 beneficiaries, including more than 4,200 survivors rescued and/or benefitting from rehabilitation. Six organisations funded through INHLI had not previously addressed trafficking. Their combined efforts benefitted over 114,000 people.
We also sought to build a community of practice among the implementing partners. Numerous convenings were held, bringing together organisations targeting the same issue (such as commercial sex work or child labour), or working in nearby geographies, or for common capacity building needs. We brought together all program partners from India and Nepal, and the partners together formalised a cross-border anti-trafficking network. Resources were shared, models were adopted, joint advocacy efforts were undertaken, and rescue and rehabilitation across geographies were coordinated.
We were excited to see how the advocacy efforts of partners working together were able to activate and/or revitalise anti-trafficking government bodies, such as District Committees to Combat Trafficking (Nepal) or Child Welfare Committees (India). Joint partner efforts were able to get government resources for shelter homes in trafficking-prone districts, and to enable regular meetings between Indian and Nepal border forces, which were mandated by the governments but not taking place. The combined impact of these efforts significantly strengthened the locally-owned systems required to reduce risk and ensure better services for survivors and their families.
Advocacy efforts have also resulted in raising partners’ profiles with local and state governments and with other anti-human trafficking organizations. This increased profile has had many positive outcomes, such as invitations for staff from partner organizations to sit on district, state, and even national level committees, and to advise on refining state-level anti-trafficking policies. At the same time, the higher profile resulted in an increased workload for partners, as many have become ‘go-to’ organizations when local government or NGOs from other areas seek assistance with rescues or with repatriation of survivors from the partners’ geographic areas. These increased demands are not always accompanied by increases in funding, resulting in financial and workload pressure for existing staff to manage unplanned and unfunded activities. Additionally, raised profiles and increased legal action—the program provided legal services benefitting more than 1,500 survivors—makes partners a greater target for threats from the criminal trafficking and slavery nexus.