Duel crises in the Pacific, Managing volunteers, TC Harold update, and more

Posted on 21 April 2020

+ Update on TC Harold (Vanuatu, Fiji & Tonga)

Initial assessments have identified there are 81 health facilities in the areas severely impacted by TC Harold. There have also been a total of 10 medical evacuations to Vila Central Hospital as a result of injuries sustained from TC Harold.

The Education Cluster has reported that schools on Malo and Aore islands, off the coast of Luganville, have been completely destroyed. The Education Cluster is conducting an in-depth assessment of schools in the cyclone-affected area this week.

Vanuatu finds its response to one disaster (TC Harold) hampered by its efforts to prevent another (the Covid-19 pandemic).

To prevent the coronavirus from being brought to Vanuatu, officials have banned foreign personnel from entering the country, with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) stating; “This is an internally run response. We need to work together." While responses from Australia and New Zealand are flying in relief items, any supplies that enter are being quarantined for three days and disinfected to ensure there is no lingering coronavirus.

But while issues relating to COVID-19 are being managed during the response, potential for other outbreaks is also of great concern. Vanuatu health authorities state has reported one confirmed case of dengue in Luganville. Health messaging is being sent out to help prevent an outbreak.

In Fiji yesterday, Prime Minister Bainimarama addressed the country and reported that more than 180,000 Fijians have had their homes and livelihoods affected by TC Harold, more than 500 homes have been destroyed, and many hundreds have suffered damage. In Tonga, the Government is finalising its TC Harold Response Plan, and assessments are currently underway on damage to schools and crops. 

+ Duel crises will hit Pacific hard

"Of all the regions in the world, the twin health and economic crises caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have the potential to hit the Pacific the hardest," writes Pat Conroy at the Lowy Institute.

"At latest count there are 266 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pacific island countries and seven deaths from the disease. The governments of at least 10 Pacific island countries have imposed states of emergency. Health workers with only a handful of ventilators at their disposal are bracing against more severe outbreaks."

The Cook Islands, for example have 80 hospital beds and two respirators  for a population of just over 21,000 people. At the moment they have declared themselves COVID free. But can they keep the virus out long term?

For those already living with the effects of poverty in our region, the outlook is grim.

COVID-19 is revealing systemic weaknesses across the Pacific that we've known about for along time:

  •  Overburdened and weak local health systems
  • Lack of health resources, basic equipment and infrastructure 
  • Food insecurity
  • Inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene services in remote regions
  • An over dependence on tourism as a source of revenue.
  • Reduction in commercial fishing as a results of travel restrictions, and a reduction in fish exports
  • Delay in construction work because of lack of availability of labour and material 
  • Reduction in remittances
  • Decline in earnings from Sovereign Wealth Funds which provide government revenue for Kiribati and Timor-Leste

What's needed is a co-ordinated regional response, particularly from Australia and New Zealand:

  • Phase 1 - humanitarian response
  • Phase 2 - Economic rebuild
  • Phase 3 - Build resilience 
This is what a Pacific Reset needs to look like now.


+ Managing Volunteers during the Alert Levels 

Volunteering New Zealand has captured the status and the contribution of the volunteering sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their latest report summarises the key points extracted from volunteer-involving organisations’ weekly updates over the last month. It importantly identifies a number of opportunities during this challenging time:

  • Developing best practices for volunteering during pandemics and emergencies
  • Identifying those volunteer activities that have been continued with no or minimum disruption
  • Producing a knowledge base on volunteering and volunteer management during pandemics
  • Conducting surveys to capture valuable insights about the sector’s status, preparedness, initiatives, and etc
  • Critical opportunity to register and engage volunteers who are specifically interested in volunteering during emergencies.

On the 17th April, the NZ Government also updated their guidelines for volunteers undertaking essential services and working under the direction of an essential service provider. These should be used along with any volunteering operational guidelines provided by that service provider.

With the announcement yesterday that the country will move out of Emergency Level 4 at the end of Monday, 27th April, the attached Guidelines for Community Organisations Working with Volunteers during COVID-19 Alert Levels might seem dated. However, these note that similar requirements will also apply under Alert Level 3.


+ When the cure is worse than the disease?

Lockdowns across the developing world are having adverse effects in some places.

Nigerian security forces have killed 18 people in their enforcement of measures to curb coronavirus, a figure higher than the documented toll inflicted by the disease, the country's human rights body said.

India's lockdown has been extended amid concerns it hits the poorest communities the hardest, and fears that a major coronavirus outbreak in the country - one of the world's most densely populated - could result in a humanitarian catastrophe.

A one-size-fits-all approach to fighting the virus could lead to even more suffering in the developing world, writes Kelsey Piper at Vox.

"The litany of unrest and suffering is growing by the day. In Kenya, police beat people for defying a stay-at-home order and shot to death a 13-year-old boy who was standing on his balcony."

"In rich countries, lockdowns are rough. In poor ones, they haven’t stopped the virus — and can lead to greater suffering."

+ ODA up in 2019 but uncertain future

Official development assistance increased slightly last year, according to initial data from OECD. But with many donors in "domestic meltdown," next year looks uncertain.

"ODA from members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) totalled USD 152.8 billion in 2019, a rise of 1.4% in real terms from 2018, according to preliminary data collected from official development agencies. Bilateral ODA to Africa and least-developed countries rose by 1.3% and 2.6% respectively. Excluding aid spent on looking after refugees within donor countries – which was down 2% from 2018 – ODA rose by 1.7% in real terms."

+ Looking after staff in COVID 19

BOND has some useful tips on keeping staff safe as lockdown continues and we adjust to new ways of working:

Questions to consider:

  • What is going well and what may need more attention?
  • How much are you listening to your clients and their changing needs, as well as keeping them informed about what’s happening? 
And some tips on running staff meetings online:
  • Team leaders could be available once a week at the same time to talk to staff via an “open-door” video conference or team stand up
  • Make sure virtual meetings are run inclusively 
  • Beware of information overload: use short sentences, include only what everyone needs to know, and use links for detail.
  • Add the personal stories and positive progress stories. 
  • Encourage non-work-related networking, e.g. virtual coffees.

+ Who will get access to a COVID vaccine?

 "Will a vaccine be accessible to all? The U.K. government has spent over £300 million ($373 million) on treatment and vaccine research for COVID-19 but has not said how it will ensure access for lower-income countries," writes DEVEX this week.

"U.K. civil society has called on the government to ensure that any COVID-19 vaccines or treatments developed with aid funding are patent-free to prevent pharmaceutical companies from “profiteering” from sales and to ensure they are accessible to lower-income countries."

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+ UNDP webinars available online

Experts from Southern and Northern think tanks have discussed how COVID-19 can create the momentum for more and better international cooperation in a 3-part webinar series by UNDP. 

Here are the recordings of 'Post-COVID19: Implications for International Cooperation' Part I, Part II, and Part III. Also, some of the presentations are available here.

COVID-19: The worst is yet ahead of us

Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation, has warned that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, reviving the alarm just as many countries ease restrictive measures aimed at reducing its spread.

He has stated that COVID-19 could get worse, especially given the likely spread through Africa, where health systems are less developed.

The full article is available here.

+ Reminder - Manaaki Round Two

In light of the uncertainty around the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the Partnerships team at MFAT would be grateful if NGO partners could include brief responses to the following two additional questions in any Manaaki round two applications, due on 29 May 2020:

  1. Please describe how the design and implementation of your proposed activity could be completed if COVID-19 conditions and restrictions still exist during those stages. 
  2. Please describe how the proposed activity remains relevant and/or could add value in the wake of COVID-19 (for example, will the activity help strengthen vulnerable and marginalised communities in some way, or respond to a current or anticipated need?).

The application form has been updated accordingly. You are also welcome, however, to send the extra information requested in a covering email or additional attachment when submitting your application, if either of those options is easier.
Please feel free to reach out if you’ve any questions about this additional requirement (

+ 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.

+ A recovery plan within planetary boundaries

'As early as 2007, the World Health Organization warned that expanding urbanisation, anti-microbial resistance and climate change were creating a perfect storm that would drive up the threat from emerging infectious diseases', writes Fazlun Khalid on SciDevNet.

How to get out of the Covid-19 crisis?

Societies require a resilient energy base that can sustain jobs, therefore an urgent shift of the fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy is needed.

Rethinking agriculture would be a second much-needed step, according to Khalid: satisfy nutrition needs, generate jobs, respect biodiversity, and build resilience to climate change-induced natural disasters, need to drive an agriculture production that cuts the use of pesticides and fertiliser, and plastic packaging, among other things.

Stopping deforestation for serving monoculture crops, is the third urgent action.

'This is a historic opportunity to ensure that ‘helicopter money’ is tied to real assets'. The post-Covid-19 world might look like one where local sustainable production and consumption are a reality of shared wellbeing.

+ IDYP announcements

IDYP is expanding to Wellington!

Over the last two years, IDYP have had YPs from Wellington ask us when we'll start planning events there. Well, the stars aligned, and we're ready to expand!
Right now, we are looking for 3-4 volunteers to join an event-planning committee, based in Wellington. If this sounds interesting to YOU, please reach out with a short description of relevant experience & your interest, as well as a resume.
Email to:

Now accepting “IDYPx” short talk proposals!

Once again, IDYP is hosting fun TEDx style talks alongside our annual AGM, August 27 TBC, and we want YOU to have the opportunity to a submit an idea.
Overall theme: International Development
Topic:  Up to you! Have something you've been itching to say to the sector? Choose a topic within the development sphere that you're interested to talk about.
Speech duration: 10 minutes or less
Format: Up to you! You can make it a speech, PowerPoint, video, etc. Bring out your creative side! 
Other requirements: Speech practice required, including attending two pre-event (online or in-person) sessions with other speakers. Must be an IDYP member.
How do I submit an idea?: Send us a 30-second video pitching your idea:
The IDYP team is really looking forward to hearing your ideas!

2020 Election of the IDYP board:

We will be welcoming our 2020/21 Team at our AGM, August 27 TBC! Many of us have been on the board from the very start, and we are ready to hand IDYP over to the next group of passionate individuals. Email us at if you’d like to learn more about a specific role and what it is like to be on the board. You can stand for election from anywhere in New Zealand.

+ COVID-19 Resources 

 Events During Lockdown
+ CID Activities
  • CID Webinar 'Financial advice during Covid-19' held
  • TC Harold Humanitarian Network coordination daily meetings
  • CID board meeting held
  • Charities Services, and UN/ ICVA Working Group meetings relating to Covid-19
  • CID Humanitarian Network COVID-19 weekly catch up
  • CEO-MFAT catch up
  • CID attended Oxfam led WPS workshop
  • COVID-19 CID updates compiled and shared on our website
  • Webinars/podcasts/online events in planning