Covid-19. NGO Transformations amid Uncertainty.
by Rene Wadlow.
World wide; the Covid-19 pandemic has caught both governments and non-governmental organizations (NGO); unprepared for the scope and complexity of the challenges.
The lockdowns have had strong economic consequences; as well as social consequences; including; the rapid rise of anxiety and violence in the home. Today; there is no pre-existing consensus regarding; who does what when disaster strikes.
There is a need to analyze the views of governments; the private sector; and civil society NGOS; as to their preparations. NGO leaders play a difficult role. They have to find a balance; between often times opposing forces – economic changes, shifts in governmental policy, demands for accountability, and upholding the basic values of their organization.
Armed Conflicts Countries.
There is a growing realization; that responses to emergency situations are strongly colored; by the political situation as well as ethic; and social class factors.
With weak and disorganized governments; there is a search for policies and institutional mechanisms; whereby “someone else” is encouraged to act. The relationships among poverty; marginalization and insecurity; are such that “getting back to normal”; is an ephemeral vision. One of the widely-held views; is that governments take the lead and NGOs provide; “auxiliary support”.
However; “auxiliary” implies governmental leadership; which is often lacking.
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Much of the value of NGO action, is the hope of developing; what is called “social capital” – The creation of local self-reliance; that people would pull together; to deal with their needs locally. Trust is the foundation of social capital.
However; local groups often; have to shoulder the burdens with even less stable; and diversified sources of funding; than international NGOs.
The legitimacy of NGOs as a unique force; is largely based on their vision of caring; about the most vulnerable members of the society. Yet in practice; there are accusations of graft; and politicization. These are issues; which must be confronted in the review of operations; during the Covid-19 crisis.
Networking and Global Coordinating.
A crucial aspect of the review of NGO action; should be on the reality of networking; and global coordinating mechanisms. There is a need to look at practice; at the national, multi-State region, and the world level.
We must reflect critically on how United Nations -NGO consultative status partnerships; are effective although the U.N. as such was largely absent from the Covid-19 responses; except for the specialized health agency: World Health Organization.
The more the world interconnects everything; both negative and positive, spreads farther and faster. NGOs have crucial roles to play; but there must also be transformations to meet new challenges.
A deep analysis should follow in the light of the Covid-19 crisis.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.