Migrants essential workers, local responses, 'green stimulus',  and more.

Posted on 06 May 2020

+ Refugees and Migrants: Essential Workers on the COVID-19 Frontline

With many migrants on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, the Overseas Development Institute Humanitarian Policy Group has created a brilliant interactive website with data visualisation, providing stories from around the world of how they continue to contribute during the pandemic. 

Refugees and other migrants are part of the global workforce of essential workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: every day they save lives and contribute to economies and societies. Yet their contributions can be hidden, their skills undervalued and their rights denied. These examples of reforms, new initiatives and campaigns to recognise and better support migrant essential workers in the COVID-19 response, demonstrate the ongoing agency and engagement of migrants and refugees in creating regional and global solutions and illustrate that change is possible. 


+ No one safe until we are all safe

Fourteen leading New Zealand aid agencies have today called on the New Zealand government to step in with immediate humanitarian assistance to save millions of lives in the world’s worst crisis and emergency situations.

The organisations have published a joint statement calling for extra humanitarian funding for people in places less able to fight the coronavirus pandemic, to prevent a catastrophic human toll in conflict areas and developing countries.  

Ian McInnes, Council for International Development Chair and Tearfund CEO said: “New Zealand is in the extraordinary position of potentially beating Covid-19, but we can’t stop here. Opening our borders and resuming life as normal requires we now act to support communities far more vulnerable than our own, in countries with far weaker health systems and just as much to lose.”

“The severe challenges responding to the devastation of Cyclone Harold in places like Vanuatu show, right on our doorstep, the double-whammy of a crisis situation with coronavirus. In crises like this, people are living in makeshift shelters, crowded close together, sharing water sources with often hundreds of others, and very basic, or no, health services.” 

“Pandemics know no borders, and neither does compassion. We must not leave anyone behind as we fight this virus. The New Zealand government is rightly taking radical action to eradicate it from our nation and support people through these hard times, even as many of us worry about our health and our jobs. Across the world, the coronavirus is threatening to set the fight against poverty back by decades, but we can turn the tide by increasing funds for vital humanitarian work, especially through NGOs who know their local communities and have strong relationships with people in need.” 

Find the open letter here.

+ 5 ways to support local responses during COVID

The Humanitarian Advisory Group (HAG) have partnered with PIANGO (Pacific umbrella organisations for community organisations) in the Pacific, to come up with 5 ways to support localised responses in the Pacific during COVID-19.

  • Strengthen partnerships and complementarity 
  • Adapt policies, processes and systems to accomodate new ways of working
  • Fund local and national actors to support locally led responses 
  • Support national coordination mechanisms and processes
  • Support ethical local recruitment, local surge and human resourcing

+ A Pacific Pathway to Recovering from COVID-19

How can we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that maximises benefits for our Pacific neighbours as well? Development and aid relationships, and programmes and projects, will be necessary but will not be sufficient. Where needed, they have to play a supportive role for other more effective (and often local) initiatives. 

Two strategies, in particular, need to be considered and worked out in detail. One is for the Australian and New Zealand governments to allow seasonal workers from the Pacific to travel to Australia and New Zealand to meet the high demand from farmers to harvest fruit and vegetables. The other is for the Australian and New Zealand governments to promote tourism to both domestic locations and to Pacific destinations, such as Fiji and Vanuatu, with well-developed tourism facilities. Both of these strategies are already starting to be discussed (see here and here).

In this DevPolicyBlog (part of the #COVID-19inthePacific series) the first strategy of greater support for seasonal worker migration is examined. It identifies that a special pathway for seasonal workers would be dependent on partner country interest, but conceivably could embrace Australia, New Zealand and those Pacific Island countries that are interested, and pass eligibility requirements in terms of testing, infection rates, and transparency.

+ Kiwi aid worker prepares for COVID in Bangladesh

Director for the international NGO Medair, Carl Adams is helping to prepare Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar camp for the inevitable arrival of Covid-19 cases.

"The best-case scenario looks really bad and the worst-case scenario is just dire but really the next couple of weeks are going to be critical," he said in an RNZ story this week.

Adams said there have been coronavirus cases near the camp but not yet within, and preparation could make a lot of difference.

Medair is a partner with CID member Tearfund.

+ CID Webinar: Talanoa on COVID Public-Health Messaging in the Pacific (Monday, 11th May)

CID will host a webinar on COVID-19 Public-Health Messaging and coordination in the Pacific next Monday (11th May) at 2:00pm (the link for this will be on CID's 'Events' webpage from Thursday onwards).

Presented by Mrs. Debbie Sorensen (D.C.C.T, CMInstD, NZRPN), Chief Executive of Pasifika Medical Association, and Pasifika Futures. 

The Pasifika Medical Association is a network of Pacific health professionals, working collaboratively to strengthen Pacific health workforce capacity and meet the health needs of Pacific people across the region.

The impact of COVID-19 within the Pacific region could be devastating if regional community partners are not adequately supported, and public-health messaging is not coordinated or informed.

The Pasifika Medical Association will identify critical issues facing the Pacific region as they respond to the COVID crisis and the things NGOs in New Zealand need to consider to best support their Pacific partners.  

There are also many lessons to be shared from the Samoa measles crisis, as well as many assumptions to be challenged. It will also be an opportunity to discuss what the pandemic might mean for the localisations of public-health programming, and the Pacific Reset agenda.

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+ More than $470 million owed to World Health Organisation

Two countries account for over half the unpaid membership dues at the World Health Organisation; the United States owed $196 million, while China’s outstanding bill stands at $57 million. They’re not alone: 151 members collectively owed $473 million in unpaid dues – about 20 per cent of the World Health Organisations’s annual budget – and a quarter of this debt is more than a year late. But the size of the US and Chinese debts highlight the World Health Organisation’s reliance on its largest members.

Finland and Ireland have stepped up immediately to increase their contributions by several million dollars. But hundreds of millions will be needed. While shouts of "just pay your bills!" are legitimate, some are arguing that other governments, philanthropies, and citizens urgently need to also step in to fill the gaps and fund the World Health Organisation.

+ Collaborative MERL for better COVID-19 response

EvalNet team at OECD-DAC reflects here on the effects of the pandemic in terms of a humanitarian disaster, in the short term, and a structural economic crisis that will jeopardise recent progress on attaining the sustainable development goals, in the medium term.

Acknowledging how many OECD countries, multilateral institutions and international organisations have committed funds to support the global preparedness, response and recovery phases, they highlight the importance of making informed decisions based on the lessons learnt with past pandemics, and of accompanying any action with high-quality results monitoring, evaluation and research.

Evaluations of the Ebola response in West Africa, for example, found that too often assistance was ended abruptly and in an uncoordinated manner, undermining short term gains and the broader health system, therefore proper exit strategies should be designed this time.

OECD EvalNet is working with members and partners in the UN and multilateral evaluation units, to launch a COVID-19 evaluation coalition to provide an independent, credible assessment of progress and results and coordinate efforts.

Coordinate efforts efficiently is key, as 'In our interconnected world, global public health is as strong as its weakest (national) link'.

+ Oxfam Australia struggles, cuts staff

Oxfam Australia is preparing to cut close to half of its workforce, citing financial difficulties stemming from years of reduced fundraising income and a “persistent decline in overseas aid budget” well before the coronavirus pandemic hit," writes Josh Taylor in the UK Guardian.

Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain said it was an “exceptionally challenging financial environment”, with the charity having a reduction in donations during the summer bushfires in Australia, leading into the coronavirus pandemic.

“Oxfam’s life-saving work is needed now more than ever to respond to the coronavirus and multiple other crises that threaten to increase the number of people living in poverty and exacerbate inequality.

“Incredibly tough decisions are being made and there will be job losses. We know this is an extremely difficult time for our dedicated and passionate staff – and these decisions in no way reflect their performance.”

+ What about 'green stimulus packages'?

Frank Rijsberman, director-general at the Global Green Growth Institute, spoke to Devex about the current situation and the opportunity of creating  'green stimulus packages'.

Rijsberman and other Climate action activists see the global pandemic as 'a double-edged sword'. The principal worry now is the health crisis, then there’s going to be a big element to do with short-term income for people that have been laid off or are unemployed, and that might be combined with not just giving short-term income support, but creating new green jobs.

His institute is collaborating with other organisations, under the Green Growth Knowledge Platform, on a paper policy brief on recommendations to green the stimulus packages.

There is a risk, in the Global North, of seeing all these big stimulus packages taking the money away from development aid, and possibly even from climate action, but "if we come up with strong programs that help retrain people and provide green jobs in the green economy, then that is where climate action and COVID-19 align very well", says Rijsberman.

"For example, the tourism industry in the Pacific Islands is in deep trouble, so...Let's use that freed-up labour for simple things like beach cleaning or other green infrastructure that can be developed. If we need to provide support for businesses that are in trouble, let's then use that not as a simple grant, but as money used to green the sector through [for example] more rapid installation of renewable energy", he continues.

Rijsberman's message for both governments and aid organisations is to use the money that was already in the pipeline 'with an environment or climate label and help it become a COVID-19 relevant or responsive program'.

+ Recording of CID Webinar 'The aid sector post COVID-19'

CID hosted a webinar with Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children Australia last Friday on the future scenarios for the aid sector.

Paul provided us with great insights on the trends that were already characterising the sector in the last 10-15 years, a few 'predictions' on new challenges posed by the global pandemic, and a few pathways for a post Covid-19 aid sector.

Watch the recording of the webinar here.

+ 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:

+ COVID-19 Resources 

 Events During Lockdown
+ CID Activities
  • Humanitarian Network TC Harold Fiji DRP meetings
  • Humanitarian Network COVID-19 (& DRP) coordination meetings
  • CEOs catch up
  • Public Event online - Paul Ronolds: ‘Is this the end of the golden weather for NGOs?’
  • Preparation for online 'Governance' workshop
  • Preparation for online 'Communicating Development' workshops
  • Membership engagement: 1 on 1 calls with CEOs commenced
  • Preparation to develop CID Member Program and Fundraising Network groups
  • COVID-19 CID updates compiled and shared on our website
  • Continued Webinar development, including 'COVID-19 & Public-Health in the Pacific'
  • ACFID/PIANGO/CID meetings and actions