Understanding COVID-19’s impact on NGOs and IDOs

Guidance for government, NGOs and IDOs leaders

Within the rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19, governments of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) — supported by Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and International Development Organisations (IDOs) — are taking a central role and will continue to do so throughout the outbreak. This article describes what kinds of scenarios LMICs may face during this crisis and practical steps they need to take.

Government and public services organisations operate within a central mandate of protecting citizens and providing services to enhance daily life. As such, governments are a central responder, decision maker, and service provider within disease outbreaks and global public health emergencies.

Potential long-term impact for low - and middle - income countries

Organisations at all levels of government can expect a number of potential impacts including:

  • Increased demand for health services, testing the capacity of existing economic and health systems as well as rising citizen demand for crisis response and delivery of health services; existing infrastructure and systems may not be ready for significant delivery; 
  • Workforce planning and the need to test the resilience of working virtually (e.g., protection of citizen data, build out of digital infrastructure); longer-term potential as a forcing mechanism for digital infrastructure development; 
  • Disrupted sectors looking to government to provide adaptive and dynamic regulatory models; longer-term potential for business and economic systems collapse without targeted and sustained interventions.

Key questions NGOs, IDOs and LMIC governments should be asking.

  • What should finance ministries, central banks, NGOs and IDOs do to avoid economic collapse, support businesses and citizens, and ensure a rapid and sustainable recovery?
  • How do public health agencies effectively plan and respond to crises while bolstering the capacity of healthcare systems to promote resiliency over time?
  • How do we safeguard workers, including surge staffing (e.g., support across health and emergency response functions) and in virtual environments?
  • How do we provide critical services to citizens—especially those in vulnerable groups—in the current crisis as well as sustainably prepare for a longer-term period of continued high demand?

Here are a couple of practical steps governments can take, including use of data for real-time decision-making and developing programs that provide rapid benefits

  • Implementation of robust crisis management programs including scenario planning oversight of emergency funding, and health and social services program delivery;
  • Use of data and analytics to improve situational awareness for real-time decision-making;
  • Development of economic programs that provide benefits while preserving employment;
  • Foster common data standards and rapid data exchange between district, regional and central agencies operating in the health, emergency and social areas;
  • Build capacity for data analysis and interpretation at local level;
  • For additional steps that organisations should consider taking visit
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