Adapting to the COVID-19 situation

News - 2020-04-20
Forum Syd is working on assessing the requests for project changes we have received. We greatly appreciate your ability to act and rapidly address the current situation. To make your current and future responses as effective as possible while able for Forum Syd to approve, we want to clarify a few things.

Please consider the following points when planning changes and communicating with your partner:

  • Changes should consider a rights-based approach to development. During crisis situations a rights-based perspective contribute and complement humanitarian efforts in various ways, not least in highlighting political aspects of crises and crises responses. Activities can for example address human rights abuses, discrimination and stigmatization related to the situation; and engage duty-bearers and humanitarian actors in activities. In a humanitarian situation -which we are probably likely to see in many countries- the government has always the responsibility to protect its citizens. Projects can therefore be redirected for activities that will assure that authorities act to protect vulnerable people, it might e.g. be to ensure food, to supply hygiene kits, to work against domestic violence or to refrain authorities to use the situation to clamp down on individuals or minorities;
  • Different initiatives require different expertise, approaches, knowledge etc. Ensure that your partner have the necessary capacity (thematic, managerial, human resources, communication, etc.) to implement the suggested change. Otherwise good intentions can turn out to have negative consequences. Please also be careful with suggesting changes in your projects. Even if you have a good partnership it is always good to keep in mind there is an unequal power relation, meaning if you suggest changes it might be difficult for your partner to say no. A right-based perspective very much entails the solutions should stem from the people affected; it is important that your partner organisations and the people they work with have the initiative in identifying and solving problems;
  • Some organisations anticipate that all funding will not be used this year, meaning own contribution will be reduced (we still do not know if the Foreign Ministry will remove the demand for own contribution in 2020), and intended it to be used for humanitarian support. If so, this must be kept outside the project and not included in the reporting to Forum Syd. Forum Syd urges everyone to be cautious with such support, and not only look at the benefits for the target group, but also if it might have negative consequences for other groups (e.g. if scarce resources are being directed to the target group at the expense of other groups) or if it might fuel conflicts;
  • Informing about COVID-19 or its consequences is not seen as a humanitarian activity and can therefore be allowed in a project. However, in order to secure the information is correct, updated and relevant for the target group it should be coordinated with relevant authorities or agencies/organisations, such as WHO or a Red Cross/Crescent association. Coordination with an established actor is also important in order to prevent the virus spreading at the same time as the information; in many places information is usually spread through physical meetings;
  • Once again, changed activities in projects related to the current circumstances do not have to contribute to project/programme objectives. Their main purpose should be to address situations caused by COVID-19. Forum Syd want to reassure that we have utmost understanding if projects/programmes do not reach their goals or are implemented as planned given the extra-ordinary circumstances.

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