Cyclone responses, Greener Pacific, Kindness, and more

Posted on 28 April 2020

+ Multiple responses and press freedom in Vanuatu & Fiji 

Vanuatu's newly-appointed Prime Minister, Bob Loughman, has established a Recovery Operations Centre within his office to coordinate recovery planning while dealing with multiple disasters, such as the aftermath of Cyclone Harold which caused extensive devastation in the north, with about two thirds of Vanuatu's population affected, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e. keeping it out of Vanuatu, and mitigating the risks to a tourism-dependent economy. The Recovery Operations Centre will assist the National Disaster Management Office’s transition from the response phase to  recovery phase.

In Fiji, there are still approximately 1,000 evacuees in 85 open evacuation centres across Central and Eastern Divisions, with the majority of these in the Eastern Division. An increase in the numbers of evacuation centres open in Eastern Division reflects the restoration of communications with Southern Lau. The Fijian National Disaster Management Office reports that there is an ongoing need for shelter and construction supplies.

Meanwhile, there have also been concerns expressed about the curtailing of press freedoms in both Vanuatu and Fiji, particularly within the context of the COVID-19 response. In Vanuatu, the government declared it illegal for media outlets to publish reports on coronavirus without the approval of government authorities. In Fiji, press freedom advocates accuse the government of the “kind of behaviour [that] is the prerogative of authoritative military dictatorships.”

+ CID Webinar 'The aid sector post COVID-19', this week!

The aid sector in New Zealand will survive, but it will look different post COVID-19. 
To help us understand what the ’new normal’ might look like, Paul Ronalds, CEO of Australia’s Save the Children and author will give a short presentation followed by Q&As. Soft mergers, hard mergers, shared services, joint appeals, more collaboration, and other ideas. Come and explore what the aid sector might look like post COVID-19.

On Friday, 1 May at 12.30 pm
On Zoom:

+ Cooks keep out COVID-19, but need tourists

The island nation of around 18,000 people shut its border to all except flights from New Zealand on March 14. Then, on March 25, it introduced strict quarantine measures for people trying to arrive from New Zealand, writes Florence Kerr in Stuff.

The measures are extremely costly. Tourism makes up 70 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. A total of 171,550 people visited the island in 2019.

But with only one hospital with 80 beds and only 2 respirators, letting the virus take hold in the islands is unthinkable.

"We've known for a long time that the health infrastructure and the health systems are weak and under resourced (across the Pacific) and again COVID-19 has shone a light on that like never before. And so now we as New Zealanders, Australians and donors working with Pacific partners have got no excuse not to know exactly what the problem is and what needs to be done," says Josie Pagani, Director of CID.

+ How will developing countries pay back debt?

With all countries borrowing extra to cope with COVID-19 lockdowns, low-income countries, some with significant existing debts and facing collapsing oil prices and tourism, will be particularly hard hit.

Governments can agree to forgive existing debt, but the positions of emerging and low-income countries differ significantly.

"Some countries have substantial debt, but also substantial external reserves. Some countries have mostly borrowed in their own currency, while others have primarily borrowed in foreign currency. Some have borrowed from private creditors; others have borrowed from official ones (other governments) who may show more forbearance," writes Brad W. Setser in the Council on International Relations.

China could play a big role by forgiving debt.

"China should also disclose exactly how much its big state institutions—the China Development Bank; the Export-Import Bank of China; and its trade insurance agency, Sinosure—have already lent to the world’s low-income countries, and the terms of any payment deferment."

+ Greener Pacific economy, post COVID-19

Extreme climate events in the Pacific are becoming more and more common. Cyclones Pam, Winston and Harold were all Category 5 cyclones, the strongest there is. They each lifted roofs from houses and flattened crops, leaving thousands of people homeless and unsure where their next meal would come from. 

In the past people thought they would live through an event like that perhaps once in their lifetime. But now the situation is very different. Julia Marango, resilience manager for CARE International in Vanuatu, talks here about her recent visit to Ambrym Island, where houses have been destroyed and where some villagers shared with her their concerns over food supplies and lack of health care. 

Cyclone Harold is the 15th Category 5 cyclone in the South Pacific since 2000. This is an almost fourfold increase on the 20 years prior when there were only four such cyclones. 

'Countries with high per-capita emissions have the power - not to mention the responsibility - to mitigate these changes. Entire economies may need to be reshaped in order to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This is a rare opportunity to build back better - to make the post-COVID-19 world a post-carbon world', says Marango. 

+ Effective storytelling post COVID-19 - training

Engaging with the public and donors, and getting your messaging right is more important than ever post Covid-19.

We will be hosting two x2 hour training seminars next Tuesday and Wednesday on 'Effective Communications in Marketing' and 'Effective Communications in person'.

Date: Tuesday and Wednesday 
Time: 10.00 am to 12.00pm (both days)
Venue: Zoom
Please register here to take part.

$10 per person will cover both sessions, plus access to helpful tools and links.

The sessions will be followed a week later by a webinar with filmmaker Kevin Denholm and a panel discussion on effective storytelling.

We were already intending to create a program to help this sector communicate more powerfully. However as the public and government alike turns its full attention to urgent national and personal priorities, the ability to engage the public and government on often complex and distant international issues and causes has never been more critical.

More details to follow: 

Part 1 – Effective Communication in Marketing
Daniel Barnes is Founder and Partner of Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu. Based in Auckland, BC&F Dentsu was #1 most effective independent advertising agency in Asia-Pacific for multiple consecutive years and also Top 5 worldwide. He has worked in both strategy and creative for commercial, institutional, government and not-for-profit clients, including for the OECD Development Assistance Committee to support the communication of the aid effectiveness agenda. He will outline some essential principles for communicating complex issues using examples from his own experience (including highly effective campaigns for the NZ Heart Foundation, Meridian Energy and the OECD DAC) as well some other key case studies. He will also discuss the latest evidence-based learnings about how consumers make decisions. There will be also be an interactive session within the limitations of remote conferencing.

Part 2 – Effective Communication in Person
Russell Pickering is Founder and Managing Director of The Pickering Group and is one of New Zealand’s leading specialists in spoken business communication, business storytelling and presentation training. Prior to founding The Pickering Group, Russell ran Auckland based communication skills consultancy SpeakEasy and established himself as an expert trainer, facilitator and coach in the field of business communication skills development. He has helped thousands of people, in some of New Zealand and Australia’s most visible organisations, become more confident and compelling communicators. In this session Russell will unlock some of the secrets and science behind great spoken communication. He will help you hone your ideas, sell your ideas and inspire action and confidence in your audience – be they virtual or in-person. Topics covered will include: Managing anxiety – science-based techniques that work, structuring persuasive narratives, spoken storytelling for NGOs, developing your leadership presence, and embracing your authenticity for great connection.

Emergency Care in Pacific - important competency in fighting COVID-19

In Pacific Island communities the focus on mitigation of COVID-19 has been predominantly on public health and social distancing. However, the importance of effective clinical preparedness and emergency care, i.e. the long-term foundation that enables effective emergency responses, should not be overlooked. Where the capacity for emergency care is in question, a major risk is presented for Pacific communities in COVID-19. This is a situation which has been exacerbated by the diminishing foreign aid for health to the Pacific over the past few years. Full article is available here.

Please keep an eye out for a CID Webinar with the Pasifika Medical Association, date to be confirmed but tentatively scheduled for Monday 11th May at 2:00pm. This webinar is an opportunity to hear about the critical issues facing the Pacific region as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and the things NGOs need to consider to best support their Pacific partners. It will also be an opportunity to discuss what the pandemic might mean for the localisation of public-health programming, and for the Pacific Reset agenda.   

+ How is COVID-19 affecting global Civil Society?

Government responses to the new COVID-19 pandemic are disrupting civil society globally, write Saskia Brechenmacher and Thomas Carothers from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

They were writing for Oxfam's Duncan Green in his blog, From Poverty to Power.

"Many civil society organizations have been forced to put planned activities on hold; others are scrambling to shift their work online.

"More worryingly, illiberal leaders in a number of countries are taking advantage of the crisis to tighten their political grip by weakening checks and balances, imposing censorship, and expanding state surveillance - all at a time when civil society groups are less able to fight back."

But some are using the crisis as a catalyst for new ways of working.

"They are filling in gaps left by governments to provide essential services, spread information about the virus, and protect marginalized groups. In some places they are partnering with businesses and public authorities to support local communities strapped for economic relief. They are also forging new coalitions to hold stumbling or recalcitrant governments to account."

"Most of the emerging civic dynamism in the pandemic context is local as communities come together to cope with the immediate crisis. This pattern reinforces a shift from professionalized civil society organizations toward localized, informal civic activism, a trend that was already underway in many places."

+ What's next?

'New Zealand and Australia might soon be part of the very small group of countries that seem to have vanquished COVID-19, including South Korea and, barring a fresh wave of infections from a recent outbreak on a naval vessel, Taiwan', writes The Economist.

So, what is next for New Zealand? Strict border control and tracking apps?

Whereas many countries risk a debilitating cycle of lockdowns, gradual reopenings and then fresh restrictions as the outbreak waxes and wanes, New Zealand’s government believes it may soon be able to send Kiwis young and old back to work without fear that the number of cases might start to surge again. 

“The worst thing we can do for our country is yo-yo between levels [of lockdown],” said Jacinda Ardern, recently.

A full elimination strategy is pretty hard and will entail the strictest border controls. At present, arrivals have slowed to a trickle: on April 22nd not a single person entered the country. The government’s economic models assume New Zealand will have to stay closed to foreigners for a year. But some doubt it is feasible, or worthwhile, to keep the borders sealed. Steven Joyce, a former finance minister, says eliminating the virus is “pie in the sky”. A halt to international tourism will knock about 5% off GDP and it will hit farmers, too.

Others are managing borders differently. South Korea still admits foreigners, provided they remain in quarantine for 14 days. A few can even evade quarantine: they are tested on arrival and, if negative, can travel widely on the condition that they answer when called by health workers and diligently record any symptoms in an app.

The deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, has raised the prospect of a “trans-Tasman bubble” once both Australia and New Zealand have the virus tightly under control. That could also include some Pacific countries - provided it does not burst. 

+ The race to feed Africa in COVID-19

COVID-19 cases in Africa continue to increase, with a 43% jump in reported  cases in the last week, highlighting a warning from the World Health Organisation that the continent of 1.3 billion could become the next epicenter of the global outbreak, 

There's plenty of food, but getting it to people is a challenge, according  to the Economist this week.

"COVID-19 is hitting people’s pockets. In African cities the average household allocates half its expenditure to food. That budget has shrunk as economies nosedive and lockdowns close the informal businesses in which most workers hustle."

The International Food Policy Research Institute (a think tank in Washington) estimates that 80m more Africans, mostly in cities, could see their incomes drop below the equivalent of $1.90 a day.

"Several governments have tried to help by handing out food or regulating prices. But there have been problems. In Uganda four officials overseeing distribution were arrested on suspicion of fraudulently inflating prices. In Kibera, a slum in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, women were trampled and police fired tear-gas as thousands of people jostled for a giveaway from well-wishers. It would be simpler just to give cash, which can be sent to people on their mobile phones."

+ Trade Aid - BE KIND Campaign

In response to some of the challenges we are facing as a community during the lockdown, CID's member Trade Aid has developed a Be Kind campaign.

Connection can be tricky during lockdown so they’ve put together a series of downloadable messages to make it easier to stay connected. Send surprise messages of kindness and appreciation to brighten someone’s day. You can read more and download the messages via:

+ VIC Uni - COVID-19 and International Law

On Thursday 23 April 2020, Victoria University's Law Faculty academics sat down to discuss the legal issues surrounding COVID-19 and how they relate to international law:

  • UN and WHO by Professor Alberto Costi
  • Trade law by Dr Michelle Zang
  • Intellectual property by Professor Susy Frankel
  • Environmental law by Dr Bjørn-Oliver Magsig 
  • Law of the sea by Associate Professor Joanna Mossop
Access Part One and Part Two.
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+ Kindness beats number of COVID-19 cases in NZ

An attempt to show the sheer magnitude of kindness in New Zealand has surpassed expectations. Since Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand launched The Big Kindness Count almost a month ago, people have recorded more than 16,000 acts of kindness, overtaking the number of COVID-19 cases within just the first few days.
From conversations between neighbouring teddy bears in house windows to Kiwis providing food boxes to businesses chipping in and NGOs helping communities in need, New Zealand has turned a daunting threat into acts of solidarity and hope.
Amnesty International Executive Director Meg de Ronde says people have connected like never before.

"We acknowledge these are trying times for many. But the past month has also been an inspiring display of humanity. New Zealanders have truly shown their capacity to care for one another. These 16,000-odd acts are a testament to the will of Kiwis to reach out and share aroha.

De Ronde says there was a huge range of acts of kindness logged on the site."What does it look like when humanity stays ahead of the COVID-19 curve during lockdown? It looks like people figuring out how Nana can get her weekly family fix, thousands of bouquets of flowers being given to workers in hospitals and retirement homes, advocates writing letters to free prisoners of conscience trapped in jails where they risk getting the disease, loving support for family members who are still going out to do essential service jobs, and anonymous angels making sidewalk-chalk adventures for bored neighbourhood kids."

De Ronde says she hopes the positives coming through now will continue. "Compassion is the foundation for human rights. The Big Kindness Count has brought to the fore many of the ways people and organisations are showing it, and in the process, helping to create the kind of world we all want to live in - one where communities are being nurtured and where everyone's rights are equally important."

+ Careers in aid post COVID-19

Devex are running a video series looking at careers in the era of COVID-19.

Listen to conversations with HR leaders, career experts, and more, on how the coronavirus is changing careers and the workplace.

► UNHCR's Catty Bennet Sattler explains how the agency is innovating and how the health crisis is affecting recruitment. 

► RTI International's Bucky Fairfax gives his advice for repackaging expertise in the COVID-19 era. 

Follow Devex Careers during COVID-19 series for more insights.

+ Free advise on digital marketing and online presence

Australian not-for-profit digital experts are offering a free 30 Minute Consultation Call to charities to explore the organisations' website and online presence, to be conducted via Zoom.

+ In case you have missed it: CID Webinars

CID recently hosted a couple of webinars to support organisations through this weird phase: legal implications of COVID-19 for NGOs, and financial implication of COVID-19 for NGOs.

You can access the recordings of the webinar through our website.

+ COVID-19 Resources 

 Events During Lockdown
+ CID Activities
  • Humanitarian Network TC Harold coordination meetings
  • Humanitarian Network COVID-19 coordination meetings
  • Charities Services, and UN/ ICVA Working Group meetings relating to Covid-19
  • CID Humanitarian Network COVID-19 weekly catch up
  • CEO-MFAT catch up
  • Preparation for online 'Governance' workshop
  • Preparation for online 'Communicating Development' workshop
  • Membership engagement: 1 on 1 calls with CEOs commenced
  • Preparation has commenced to develop network groups
  • COVID-19 CID updates compiled and shared on our website
  • Continued Webinar development


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