CID Weekly: To merge or not to merge? Worst year for aid fatalities, & more

Posted on 25 August 2020

+ To merge or not to merge - that is the question

Our UK sister organisation, Bond looks at the pros and cons of mergers for aid charities struggling during COVID.

"Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are dirty words, conjuring up images of aggressive takeovers, reserved only for the corporate world and definitely not the NGO sector, unless you are really desperate," writes Sarah Priester.

"This negative perception is unfortunate because a merger or acquisition (for simplicity we will stick with the term “merger” to cover both) can facilitate many benefits."

Suspicion is understandable. INGOs that merge face loss of autonomy and identity. 

But the benefits can outweigh the downsides, she says. And "drastic times require drastic actions."

The potential benefits of a merger can be broken down into the five S’s:

  • Services – improved quality of services and possibility to create a one-stop-shop of complementary services, thus increasing the effectiveness of aid programmes
  • Scale – increasing the number of programme participants reached and often their geographical range, thereby increasing visibility and influence
  • Skills – gaining access to a larger skillset by obtaining high quality, specialised and diverse staff
  • Savings – improving efficiencies by reducing duplication resulting in lower costs, thus increasing value for money, impact and ultimately public trust
  • Sustainability – improving financial security as part of a bigger organisation and increasing attractiveness to funders.

Join Bond on 2 September for their webinar looking at the myths, risks and opportunities of INGO mergers.


+ Save the Date: CID Annual Dinner and AGM - 5 Nov

CID's Annual General Meeting (AGM) and dinner event with keynote speaker, entertainment, awards, photo competition, and debate is planned for 5 November 2020. 

Please save the date.

CID's AGM and dinner event will be face to face  - COVID permitting! A chance to get together as a sector after a challenging year.

This is the week following CID's annual conference (this year held online, in partnership with ACFID in Australia and PIANGO in the Pacific).

Save the date! Book your travel.

+ 'Enforced Localisation' during cyclone season

COVID border closures in the Pacific accelerated New Zealand's locally-led responses during cyclone season this year, finds a CID report published today.

The 2019/20 CID Pacific Cyclone Season Report -  'Localisation during Overlapping Responses: COVID-19 Pandemic & Tropical Cyclone Harold' - found that ‘enforced localisation’  increased opportunities for local ownership of responses, although barriers still remain.

The report provides not just a snapshot of the season, but also reviews the barriers, and identifies the opportunities to further the localisation agenda.

A synopsis of previous literature on regional localisation helps to provide a broader summary of recommendations. These are particularly relevant to INGO partners and CID members who will have to work around access restrictions for the foreseeable future, and genuinely support local response initiatives, including support via remote approaches.

The experience of the overlapping crisis of COVID and TC Harold present five opportunities for humanitarian NGOs to better support response activities:

  1. The strengthening of partnerships and the improvement of complementarity,
  2. Support funding that allows national actors to directly support locally led responses,
  3. Support human resourcing solutions locally, particularly recruitment and local surge,
  4. Adapt systems, policies and processes to accommodate new ways of working, and
  5. Support national coordination processes and mechanisms.

+ 2019 the worst year on record for aid worker fatalities

Recent surges in attacks against health personnel, from ‘double-tap’ strikes on medics in Syria to assaults and shootings of Ebola workers in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), helped make 2019 the worst year on record for aid worker casualties.

The Aid Worker Security Database remains the sole comprehensive global source of data on major incidents of violence against aid workers, and provides an evidence base for analysis of the changing security environment for civilian aid operations.

The 2020 report has finally been release after some delay 'Aid Worker Security Report 2020: Contending with threats to humanitarian health workers in the age of epidemics'.

This year's report focuses on humanitarians working in the health sector.

It examines the data on attacks against health workers and discuss how the humanitarian sector is dealing with the new risks and disruptions caused by major epidemics occurring in contexts of broader complex emergency.

The provision and protection of health care in conflicts is foundational to international humanitarian law (IHL), and in every humanitarian emergency, health workers represent a vital cadre of responders.

Flagrant violations of these protections and commitments continue in war zones, and health workers can face threats not just from armed actors, but from aid recipients and their communities acting out of fear, misperception, or grievance.


+ Aid under a Biden presidency 

The former vice president, Joe Biden would have a different approach to foreign aid — one that would prioritise development, and look to multilateral partnerships, writes Devex this week.

"We'd bring aid back to the center of our foreign policy — the emphasis would be on diplomacy, on democracy, and on development," Antony Blinken, a foreign policy adviser for the Biden campaign, said at a May online event hosted by Meridian. 

In a Biden administration, there would be a “significant shift in attitude towards development and foreign aid,” said George Ingram, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, describing it as a transition from negative to positive, from being transactional in nature to more strategic.

Dealing with climate change mitigation and adaptation would be back on the agenda, so too gender programmes.

"A Biden administration would have a “government-wide focus of uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by focusing on measures to address gender-based violence internationally,” according to campaign documents.


Threats to wildlife under COVID 

COVID has increased the risks of wildlife crime, which in turn create further risks to human 
human health, economies and biodiversity, reports the UNDP.

Generating up to US$23bn annually, wildlife transnational crime is the 4th most lucrative illegal trade after narcotics, human trafficking, and counterfeiting.

"COVID illuminates the potential risk to human health and economies from poorly regulated or illegal trade in wildlife."

"While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread global disruption, some central aspects of pandemic response - including lockdowns and travel restrictions - are also impacting wildlife poaching and trafficking supply chains."

"Alarmingly, some areas have reported an increase in wildlife poaching due to reduced law enforcement patrols and losses of rural jobs during lockdowns. Elsewhere, some reduction in poaching has been observed, and is attributed to travel restrictions and supply chain disruptions."

Chinese diplomat 'walks all over people' 

The dispute over a welcome ceremony in Kiribati has put concerns about Chinese diplomacy and colonialism front and center, writes Damien Cave in the New York Times.

But was it really culturally insensitive?

The photo of the ceremony shows the Chinese ambassador, Tang Songgen, walking over the backs of 30 people on a remote island in Kiribati soon after he had landed on a grassy airstrip.

The photo went viral and donor embassies across the Pacific expressed their outrage.

"To others, including people from Kiribati, the criticism was a sign of ignorance. The ambassador was simply taking part in a local welcome ceremony, typically reserved for weddings, that elders had chosen to adapt," says Damien Cave.

Dr. Teaiwa, Associate Professor in Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, welcomes the scrutiny of colonialism in aid that the photo brings. But that scrutiny should be broader, she says, to include how the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world work in the Pacific

“Islanders are infantilized by foreign governments, development experts, missionaries, tourists and researchers from all disciplines,” she said. “The China-U.S.-Australia tug of war is frustrating when it removes the voices and agencies of Pacific leaders and communities — especially communities.”

Australian COVID vaccine for the Pacific? 'But not from the aid budget please'

"Australia's development cooperation program has built the connections to help roll out this vaccine to the region. But we have reached the end of repurposing the aid budget," writes CEO of ACFID, Marc Purcell.

"In order to do this effectively, new resources are required. Otherwise, we risk running down other critical areas of development cooperation and compromising existing relationships."

Meanwhile China is testing its Covid vaccine in PNG.

"There will be intense vaccine diplomacy and it is in Australia’s national interest to supply vac­cines free to our neighbours in Southeast Asia and the Pacific," adds Marc Purcell.

+ Podcast: Is the international NGO system broken?

"Only 1% of official aid and humanitarian assistance goes directly to local organisations in developing countries or the “global south”.

"Despite a commitment to sustainable and locally-led development, international NGOs have still not redressed the imbalance of power, resources and funds that exists between northern NGOs and southern civil society organisations," writes Bond this week.

Click here to listen to their podcast.


+ World Humanitarian Day as NZ's 'Global Giving Day'

August 19 was World Humanitarian Day, and the day was marked by New Zealand aid charities coming together to ask our ‘team of five million’ to consider those who are not only fighting COVID, but also hunger and hardship. CID's full media release is available here.

“Look after your family and your neighbours, but today we also ask you to look out for those struggling to survive as they deal with COVID outbreaks on top of extreme poverty. An increase in poverty internationally is only going to decrease our own ability to manage challenges that don’t stop at the border – including COVID,” says CID Humanitarian Manager, Aaron Davy.

As a part of the campaign, CID created a list of members' appeals relating to the COVID pandemic and the Beirut Blast, which can be viewed on our website

World Vision, Christian World Service and Oxfam also hosted a webinar last week as part of the Big Hearts, Connected World campaign: Beiruit and Beyond: NZ Stories from Global Crises. You can watch it here

Oxfam New Zealand also launched its Collective Resilience report recently. If you missed it, you can read the report here and watch the presentation here

CID and aid charities are asking Kiwis to mark World Humanitarian Day each year as New Zealand’s ‘Global Giving Day’ when everyone can further support the important international work of NGOs. We will be looking to develop this further next year, so watch this space!

+ Aid sector in Australia unites for poorer nations during COVID

Meanwhile, more than 150 organisations and over 13,000 Australians have signed a pledge in solidarity with poorer nations for World Humanitarian Day.

Initiated by Micah Australia, with support from the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and Campaign for Australian Aid, the “End COVID for all” movement asserts that the pandemic won’t be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone.

The campaign began in June, and calls on the Australian government to contribute its fair share of global humanitarian funding and increase support to crisis areas.

$250 million loan to support Myanmar's COVID-19 response

Due to its limited public health system, a mobile population, crowded living conditions in urban centres, and limited water and sanitation infrastructure, Myanmar is vulnerable to COVID-19, despite its limited number of confirmed cases.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has now approved a $250 million loan to help the Government of Myanmar respond to COVID-19, through mitigating the impacts on health, livelihoods and the economy, while also extending cash support to 5.5 million vulnerable families and providing tax relief, tax credits, and other measures to businesses and workers.

“ADB is committed to supporting Myanmar as it responds to the pandemic, improves its health services, and prepares for recovery from the damaging economic impacts,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.

“ADB’s quick-disbursing budget support will help the government provide social assistance to the poor, disadvantaged, and vulnerable groups, including those in conflict-affected areas; strengthen its health care system to better prevent and control the virus; and support workers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, 30% of which are owned by women.”

Original source available here 

Catastrophic flooding in Yemen

An estimated 300,000 people in Yemen have lost their homes, crops, livestock, and personal belongings in the last three months due to torrential rains and severe flash floods.

Amongst the newly displaced are people who were previously forced to flee their homes by the conflict. They are once again having to rebuild their lives and communities.

Many of the internally displaced people (IDPs) displaced by the floods were already living in abject poverty, often in overcrowded, makeshift shelters made from plastic sheeting or mud which have been washed away or sustained significant damage.

People are now being forced to shelter in mosques, schools, or with relatives or live out in the open, in abandoned buildings, some of which are at risk of collapsing, or in whatever is left of their damaged homes. Levels of desperation and despair are rising as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis plummets to new depths.

The rainy season is expected to continue and the capacities of many dams, some of which are in poor condition due to neglect in recent years because of the conflict, are becoming increasingly overwhelmed.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is concerned that the displaced communities are extremely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many unable to practice social or physical distancing, access clean water for handwashing, or enact other measures to prevent transmission of the virus.

UNHCR is rushing to provide emergency shelter support and core relief items. However, stocks of shelter and emergency relief items will run out in a matter of weeks, leaving with some of their most basic needs unmet.

After more than five years of conflict, more than 80 percent of Yemen’s total population requires humanitarian assistance. Close to 4 four million IDPs, returnees, refugees, and asylum-seekers are now reliant on regular humanitarian aid to survive.

Original source available here

The CID Weekly is Proudly Sponsored By
Direct Impact Group supports organisations to maximise their social impact, because changing the world isn't easy, and in dynamic times this work is more important than ever.

+ Save the Date: Health of the Sector Panel Event - 24 Sept 

There will be an early evening panel event (around 5pm) at The Backbencher Gastropub in Wellington to discuss the results of CID's Health of the Sector Study on 24 September. 

This event will reveal the health of the sector post COVID-19 and recommendations to weather the storm. 

Save this date!

+ Global Misinformation Trends around COVID-19

UNDP Sudan's Head of Communications recently published an article regarding global misinformation trends around COVID-19, arguing that the COVID-19 'infodemic' is spreading more rapidly than the virus.

The article identifies seven misinformation trends spreading alongside COVID-19, such as the correlation of social media with misinformation, public health communications struggling to compete on digital platforms as well as public authorities' trust being exploited. 

The full article can be viewed here.

+ CID Strategy Consultation - 1, 3, 17, & 18 Sept

CID's strategy is being revised to ensure direction is clear, purpose is relevant and the organisation can optimise effectiveness throughout the next 3 years, i.e. 2020 - 2023.

We are keen to hear your views!

To facilitate this, we will be hosting four 1-hour zoom sessions for members, the purpose of which is to collate further input and feedback to assist in the revision of CID's strategy.  Each session will be run as an online focus group.

The sessions will be held on 1, 3, 17 and 18 September. If you wish to get involved, please sign up here  - please only register for one of the sessions.

Save The Date:
  • Health of the Sector Panel Event - The Backbencher Gastropub, 24 September 2020
  • CID AGM and Annual Dinner Event - 5 November 2020
+ CID Activities 
  • Annual conference preparations in progress - Oceania Connect with ACFID and PIANGO
  • Preparations for Code of Conduct Committee meeting - 1st Sept
  • Preparations for 2020 Photo Competition & Collaboration Awards
  • Revision of Unsolicited Bilateral Donation campaign requirements
  • Code and compliance self-assessment support for CID Members
  • Finalisation of draft CID Strategy
  • Annual Report
  • Commencement of the 2019/2020 Membership Survey 
  • ACFID/PIANGO/CID meetings and actions
  • Preparations for Gender Workshop
  • Preparations for Health of the Sector panel event on 24 September


Health Aid Localisation