How to deal with Covid-19, Aid fraud warning, dependency, and more

Posted on 03 March 2020

+ What we know about Coronavirus (Covid-19) today

Together we're powerful - containment starts with you. Our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself - it's fear, rumors & stigma. And our greatest assets are facts, reason and solidarity.

- Dr Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation

What we know so far (according to the Economist Magazine this week):

  • A broad guess is that 25-70% of the population of any infected country may catch the disease.
  • China’s experience suggests that, of the cases that are detected, roughly 80% will be mild, 15% will need treatment in hospital and 5% will require intensive care.
  • Experts say that the virus may be five to ten times as lethal as seasonal flu, which, with a fatality rate of 0.1%, kills 60,000 Americans in a bad year.
  • Models point to global economic growth being two percentage points lower over 12 months, at around 1%
But the good news is that a lot depends on how governments and communities respond:
  • Hubei province, the origin of the epidemic, has a population of 59m. It has seen more than 65,000 cases and a fatality rate of 2.9%.
  • By contrast, the rest of China, which contains 1.3bn people, has suffered fewer than 13,000 cases with a fatality rate of just 0.4%
  • 3 lessons from China:  talk to the public, slow the transmission of the disease and  prepare health systems for a spike in demand.
  • One message is that fatality is correlated with age. If you are over 80 or you have an underlying condition you are at high risk; if you are under 50 you are not.
  • The future 80% of mild cases (most of you) should stay at home and not rush to a hospital.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
  • NGOs and organisations need continuity plans, and let staff work from home (see below)

+ Covid-19 Impact so far

UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock (who presented to CID membership in Wellington last week) this week released US$15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to help fund global efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. 

In the last 24 hours an additional four countries have reported Covid-19 cases; Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tunisia and Indonesia. At the time of writing there are now 90,305 reported cases (including 3,087 fatalities), across 75 countries. However, the most significant risk to limiting a potential pandemic is the role of misinformation and the fueling of global panic, particularly via social media. This panic has been felt locally in New Zealand too.

Pacific Island countries have not yet seen a case of Covid-19, but the vulnerability of the region was highlighted recently with the measles outbreak. Samoan authorities have introduced  medical certification for all passengers entering the country. Tutuila (American Samoa) has announced it will not host the Polynesian Leaders Group meeting as scheduled this year. The NZ Pacific Mission trip in the latter part of March has also been cancelled. 

As well as the impact on the tourism sector, Covid-19 is having broader global economic impacts. The Australian stock market opened 2.2% down on Monday morning, marking the seventh straight trading day of losses as Covid-19 spreads. Financial markets around the world have suffered their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, as the economic impact becomes clearer. Around $5 trillion has been wiped off share markets globally this week already,


+ What your NGO needs to do now

Here is a useful list, from Pattrick Smellie at Business Desk for all employers to understand their obligations during the Covid-19 outbreak, and to prepare for all scenarios.

As a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) you have certain legal obligations under the Health and Safety At Work Act:

  • “Minimising the spread of coronavirus is important to keep employees safe and well at work,” says the website for WorkSafe, the government agency that administers health and safety law. “This should be done before thinking about the interests of the business or organisation”;
  • Consult your staff, plan your response together and record your agreements and policies in writing (you can use this again in the future, so it’s not time wasted);
  • Make preparations while you can;
  • If you get this wrong, as an employer, the fines are not trivial and range from hundreds of thousands of dollars through to jail time;
Employees need to understand their rights (and responsibilities; WASH YOUR HANDS!):
  • Employees have a right to refuse to come to work if they fear they will catch the virus, as long as that fear is reasonable and not “remote”. 

Here are some practical steps you can take today:

  • Implement rigorous hand-washing – 20 seconds at least – and make sure there’s soap and drying facilities. In our office, the paper towels in the loos keep running out. Talk to the cleaners and sort that out;
  • Make sure there is plenty of hand sanitiser, soap and towels available wherever they are needed;
  • Ensure staff who are unwell stay home;
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing;
  • Offer free flu jabs to your crew. Covid-19 is most serious when it accompanies another respiratory condition;
  • If you don’t have a regular cleaning schedule in your small business, it’s time there was one;
  • Use disposable rather than reusable towels and cloths;
  • Make sure your air-conditioning units are clean – check with your landlord if in a commercial building with multiple tenants;
  • Monitor your workers’ health and be ready to discuss working from home or other measures for potentially vulnerable employees. The virus is deadlier among older people than the young;
  • Postpone travel to mainland China and ensure anyone who’s just been there self-isolates for 14 days;
  • Depending on government advisories, consider limiting staff involvement in events involving large numbers of people.

+ Beware the spread of panic!

"Spreading just as fast, it seems, are conspiracy theories that claim powerful actors are plotting something sinister to do with the virus," write  and  in the Conversation.

"Our research into medical conspiracy theories shows that this has the potential to be just as dangerous for societies as the outbreak itself."


+ A MIRAB analysis

In the early 1980s Geoff Bertram and Ray Watters from the University of Victoria in New Zealand coined the acronym MIRAB to describe a preferred model for growth in the Pacific island countries (PICs). The elements of MIRAB are migration, remittances, aid and bureaucracy. Some evidence suggests – at least at first glance – that the MIRAB structure of PIC economies has served PICs reasonably well.  

But is a dependence on aid, remittances and rents a healthy, sustainable and preferable model for long-term economic growth and development in the islands, or any society? This is what David Abbott and Steve Pollard seek to address on a two-part blog series on DevPolicy.

Part one examines migration and remittances and finds that temporary and permanent migration from PIC countries to NZ and Australia, increased significantly in the last 15-20 years, provoking a shortage of prime-age labour for PIC subsistence farming and fishing. On the other hand, remittances often represent a key way to sustain families or provide them with some livelihood resilience. 

However, a part of this 'trap' is the use of remittance income to prepare young people to emigrate rather than to invest in businesses at home, resulting in a vicious circle of emigration, economic stagnation, rising cost of living, and more emigration.

Part two looks at aid (international assistance) and bureaucracy. Over the ten-year period from 2007 through to 2016, development assistance accounted for an average of 28.8% of total government revenues and grants across PICs, but the benefits of aid may not increase as aid increases. 

According to the authors, the rents from MIRAB have helped undermine the development of an alternative growth model based on a more substantive and committed effort to boost domestic economic activity and to build a sound domestic foundation for long-term sustainable development.

+ New report unveils cases of potential aid fraud

new working paper explores “aid capture” — aid making it to a country’s elites instead of its people. The aid diversion studied in the report comes from aid disbursements from the World Bank (WB) and foreign deposits from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

The three authors of the paper, Jørgen Juel Andersen, Niels Johannesen, and Bob Rijkers, found that "in our main sample comprising the 22 most aid-dependent countries in the world (in terms of WB aid), we document that disbursements of aid coincide, in the same quarter, with significant increases in the value of bank deposits in havens".

'How bad is the problem? On average, the authors write, the “implied leakage rate is around 7.5 percent,” and it’s higher when aid is a bigger percentage of GDP.

Notably, there’s really not much evidence of any leakage when the aid represents 1 percent of GDP or less. When the aid represents 3 percent of GDP or more, though, average leakage is 15 percent', reports Kelsey Piper on Vox.

"The results are consistent with aid capture by ruling elites: diversion to secret accounts, either directly or through kickbacks from private sector cronies, can explain the sharp increase in money held in foreign banking centers specializing in concealment and laundering. If the transfers to havens were caused by confounding shocks correlating with aid disbursements, we should expect to see similar transfers to other foreign banking centers; however, there is no evidence of such responses", says the report.

+ Idlib  - Humanitarian crisis gets worse

The Syrian government’s assault on a rebel-held province has created one of the worst humanitarian emergencies of a brutal nine-year war, writes Vivian Yee and Hwaida Saad from the NY Times.

Many in Idlib are living in tents or sleeping out in the open in the freezing cold. Children are freezing to death.

"Already the effective winner of Syria’s civil war, President Bashar al-Assad is closer than ever to retaking Syria’s last rebel-held territory, Idlib Province in northwest Syria, a milestone that will clinch his victory even as it deepens his people’s suffering. Over the past three months, his forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have intensified their assault on the province, driving nearly a million residents toward the border with Turkey."

+ * Don't forget  - The Localisation Survey *

The new year starts with a call to combine our passion for global development with a solid evidence-based approach and an open attitude to learn from each other and from our own mistakes.

Assessing the current status of NZ INGOs' understanding of localisation is crucial to identify the obstacles, what good practice looks like, and what could be the catalysts for change.

The survey link was sent to all CID members' CEOs. Please, complete the survey by Friday 28th February 2020.

+ 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.

+ United Nations Association NZ - Public Speaking Award

The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) has launched the 2020 Public Speaking Award for secondary school students. UNA NZ has held regional secondary school speech awards for over 30 years. 

Regional events will be held in late March/April and branch winners will be funded to attend the National Conference on 8th May 2020 in Wellington to compete on a national level.

The 2020 competition topic is “Are the reasons for establishing the United Nations in 1945 still relevant today?”, and speeches are to be 6 to 8 minutes. Students must make a particular reference to the aims, work and aspirations of the United Nations.

Register directly at  

For more information contact

+ Video of the CIDTalk on Civil-Military coordination 

Johanna Brown, a former trainer in civil-military component to Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Response (HADR) with NATO forces and partners, shared her personal experience training with and educating armed forces to respond to HADR activities in a non-hostile environment.

Relevant to New Zealand and the Pacific region on the infamous Ring of Fire, Johanna talked about the “on the ground” partnering that takes place in a training environment to bolster relationships and skills for when the call comes in.

Her presentation is a very inspiring contribution to mutual understanding and cooperation.

Click here to see the video of the Talk.

+ CID Events

+ Other Events Coming Up
+ CID Activities
  • Preparation and facilitation of CID Humanitarian Network meeting
  • Consultation with World Food Programme and Pacific community
  • CID Board meeting
  • Meetings with potential CID Members
  • Scoping CID Talks events
  • Advocacy research started
  • CID Safeguarding Tool concept note drafted
  • CID Strategy and Constitutional Review process started
  • Storytelling workshop design started
  • Business contingency plan & briefing in response to Covid-19 created