By Arturo CORTES BARBABOSA, Advocacy Team 

The Forus COVID-19 taskforce was launched in May 2020 with the aim of giving members a chance to hear what other platforms are doing as part of their overall response in their countries to COVID-19 pandemic and to share their own experiences. Its purpose is to facilitate the exchange between members on their national and regional COVID-19 related priorities. Furthermore, the Covid-19 Task Force allows members to share their national COVID-19 priorities with Forus, and for Forus to share this information with international donors and institutions as part of its global level advocacy work. 

The first meeting of the Task Force took place on May 14th and it was chaired by Shannon Kindornay, Director, Research, Policy and Practice at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC-CCCI). During this first meeting, several platforms’ representatives from VANI (India), ASONOG (Honduras), InterAction (USA), ZCSD (Zambia), NFN (Nepal), Bond (UK), PIANGO (Pacific Islands), ADA (Asia), Concord (Europe) and NNGO (Nigeria) had a chance to exchange their national experiences and initiatives linked to the current pandemic with other platforms and regional coalitions.  

Additionally, Forus launched a network-wide survey to identify the main impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of Forus national platforms and regional coalitions, and their members. This information will allow the Forus network to plan how it can support its members during this time of great change and uncertainty and inform forward planning. 

Key findings of the survey on members’ impacts and support needs, particularly on (i) communication activities, (ii) funding, (iii) civic space, (iv) national and regional SDG implementation and (v) activities and projects were presented to members during the 2nd COVID-19 Task Force meeting, which took place on Thursday, June 11th from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm (GMT+2). This second meeting was chaired by Kit Dorey (Bond, UK) and included the participation of Jean-Luc Galbrun (Coordination Sud, France), Jaeeun Shin (KCOC, South Korea), and Arturo Cortés Barbabosa (Forus).  

The following are some of the key findings from this survey:  

1. Impacts on Communication with members  
  • 86% of respondents have experienced impacts on their communication with their members;  
  • Face-to-face activities and meetings have been cancelled or rescheduled;  
  • Organization of online activities with members, such as webinars, workshops and meetings have significantly increased.  

2. Financial impacts  
  • 95% of respondent members claimed to have had significant impacts on funding;  
  • These impacts are mainly related to: (i) threats to future funding (95%), (ii) cuts in funding (45%), (iii) inability to meet funding or reporting deadlines (35%), and others (35%), such as planning and difficulties in collecting membership fees;  
  • 67% of respondent members are aware of new sources of funding linked to COVID-19, and 71% of them have applied to these funding opportunities, which are mainly public funds related to health and humanitarian-related activities and projects. 

3. Civic space & Governments and CS relations 
  • One third of respondent members rate the measures implemented by their governments with respect to their impact on the effective functioning of civil society as non-restrictive, while 24% rate these measures as restrictive and 14% as very restrictive;  
  • The freedom most affected or limited by these government measures has been the freedom of assembly (79%), followed by the freedom of association (42%), access to information (47%), and, to a lesser extent, the freedom of expression (10%); 
  • 57% affirm that they are being consulted by their governments in relation to the general responses to the pandemic. 

4. Impacts on national and regional SDG implementation 
  • 43% of respondent members informed us that their governments continue with SDG implementation mechanisms at the national and regional level despite the pandemic. 
5. Impacts on projects and activities:
  • 38% of respondents have experienced an impact degree on their activities and project from 76% to 100%;  
  • 38% of respondents have experienced an impact degree on their activities and project from 51% to 75%;  
  • 19% of respondents have experienced an impact degree on their activities and project from 26% to 50%; and only 5% of respondent members claimed having an impact on their activities and projects of less than 25%. 

Finally, Forus members are also encouraged to participate in joint activities, such as the COVID-19 Short Video Initiative. This initiative aims at promoting short videos from our members to show the effects of the pandemic on their work and the related demands that they may have as platforms and coalitions. In order to facilitate the creation and sharing of these short videos, Forus developed and shared with its members a set of guidelines in four languages: [English] [Français] - [Español] - [Português]

If you have any questions or comments about the Forus COVID-19 Task Force please contact Deirdre de Burca at deirdre@forus-international.org or Arturo Cortés Barbabosa at programme.support@forus-international.org.