Serving Communities during COVID

Rotary Community Economic Area of Focus and COVID-19Bonaventure Picture.jpg

COVID-19 is profoundly affecting the working class of the world especially in the developing countries. In addition to the threat to public health, the pandemic menaces the long-term livelihoods and wellbeing of millions. While the ultimate outcome is still uncertain, the pandemic will result in contractions across the vast majority of emerging market and developing economies.  

The latest International Labor Organization (ILO)data on the labor market impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the devastating effect on workers in the informal economy and on hundreds of millions of enterprises worldwide due to the partial or total lockdown and the disruption of the hospitality industry. 

In its article titled “Turning back the Poverty Clock”, Brookings Institute estimates the number of poor to rise from 420 million to 580 million.[1] “As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent,” said Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General. “For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing. They have no savings or access to credit. These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don’t help them now, these enterprises will simply perish”.

We suggest to Rotarians to find the means to get an overview situation, even though it will be difficult to assess communities during COVID-19,  and its impact on the most vulnerable before designing their project. The use of secondary data is great but primary data will give a more updated view of the community. Rotarians are advised to be cautious during the community assessment. They should be mindful of protecting people who are collecting data, the participants and the surrounding communities by emphasizing practices around harm reduction, including distancing, face masking usage, and good hygiene. We advise Rotarians to create a set of measures important for their data collection teams and partners:

Go digital where possible: Rotarians must prepare to work remotely to avoid face-to-face contact as much as possible. The use of phone, zoom, hangout, skype etc. is highly recommended.

Educate teams and communicate about preventive measures of COVID-19.

Pack sanitary supplies during the community assessment: It is advisable to stock up on soaps, hand sanitizer gels, facemasks, and screen-cleaning materials, especially in countries where these are still widely available. Sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol.

Adjust transportation and interview procedures: Rotarians must respect safety and social distancing during the process.

Since economic assets are a key factor in the resilience of individuals, households and communities, a massive reduction of those assets will make recovery from the COVID-19 crisis more challenging. Since the goal is to reduce the economic impact of COVID-19 on individuals, households and communities, it is critical for Rotarians to reduce vulnerability and to build resilience. For that reason, stabilizing people’s livelihoods through an emergency response (short-term solutions) with a plan to support an early recovery (long-term solutions) represents the most appropriate response.

During the short term - Provide a multipurpose assistance,  including but not limited to in-kind aid to the most vulnerable of the communities so they can meet their basic needs, prevent assets depletion and protect livelihoods activities. This could be through the provision of:

>  Vouchers for food

>  Seeds and equipment

>  Local public service delivery

>  Economic assets like goats, cows, fishing assets, etc.

The short-term component of a project should also have a clear exit plan and capacity building following the provision of those assets and a long-term solution.

The long-term solutions in a COVID-19 CED project should target an early recovery plan with the goal of coping with the new situation in that community.  It can be, for example:

>  Training people for new jobs 

>  Supporting access to new and more valuable markets

>  Organizing people of informal sectors to access micro-loans

>  Helping farmers diversify their crops

>  Supporting women groups to get more organized for new opportunities

>  Getting farmers into cooperatives, etc.

COVID-19 has changed people’s livelihoods around the world and the best approach to preserving communities’ economic assets is to reduce vulnerability and build resiliency using local and context-based solutions.

Bonaventure Fandohan, Rotary Theme 2020 - 2021.jpg
Rotary Area of Focus Manager,
Community Economic Development

Bonaventure.Fandohan@rotary.org
1 312-856-4323 • Mobile

 Reference:  Brookings Education Blog

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