The COVID-19 Effect Series: Part 2.

By April 3, 2020 May 18th, 2020 Learning, Publications, Regional

Community-Based Organisations in times of the pandemic

Temporary fix to operations, service delivery and community engagements

To address the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have placed their respective countries under states of emergencies, subjected its nationals, citizens, residents and inhabitants into quarantine, and limited social mobility by imposing public curfews. Public places are closed down, public events are cancelled and prohibited, and public transportations are limited. The countries are in a heightened state of awareness in this global battle against the new virus. 

As the bigger community are isolating themselves to prevent the spread of the virus, operations of several institutions and organisations are affected. This includes the operations of the community-based organisations delivering HIV services, HIV advocacy, and LGBTQI organisations working on human rights.

APCOM has implemented its COVID-19 Preventive Protocol to protect and safeguard its staff against the virus, while allowing continuity of the work. Our country-based partners have also taken action to safeguard their staff, following the directives of their local or national governments. 

A number of our partners have limited or reduced their work days and work hours. The staff also have the full option to work from home depending on their role in the organisation. Most of our partners have staff who are required to be in the office to continue the daily operations of the organisation. In this case, there is an ongoing support providing information and ensure staff are following WHO-endorsed guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Community-based organisations have invited all staff to carry out self-assessments and consult with respective human resources or management in carrying out personal measures. Staff are also allowed to explore flexible or alternative working arrangements. For group activities that are implemented, social distancing is observed.

Only in cases deemed necessary are clients or patients to come to the organization to get treated. Counselling and medical advice are being given online. The official directives have forced community organisations to observe social distancing and coordinate remotely through mobile messaging applications.  A few of our partners in Nepal and Sri Lanka have closed down their central and district offices as they could not deliver their services properly. The most impacted is tackling delivery of treatment considering the curfew that is imposed. In Indonesia, remote coordination is impossible in some cases where a community-based organisation need to handle human rights cases personally.

The main strategy of the community-based organisations is to sustain operations and programmes to the extent possible, which is determined by assessing risks of the pandemic to all activities, and provide critical resolutions for the long term.

Programmatic and operational concerns

For our partners, especially those who are implementing large grants like the Global Fund and PEPFAR grants, the main worry is about not reaching the program indicators, and thus reducing project results. The Global Fund and PEPFAR have not issued any directives towards grant implementers about the targets and indicators. The online outreach and online work is not considered as official indicators. COVID-19 is impacting the countries’ economy, hence, will affect every worker in the long term. Due to COVID-19, mobile outreach and testing are halted.

In addition, the organisations are also worried how the uncertainty of length of interruptions is significantly affecting activities. All other activities are either postponed to a later date, or postponed indefinitely, or cancelled. The activities such as organising and providing trainings, community outreach, and mobile testing, are impossible to implement during the period of quarantine. In the long term, community-based organisations are concerned how the funding mechanisms and allocations to HIV and LGBTQI work are affected by this context. From the collective inputs of our partners, this will result to funding crises, slow down of activism, livelihood crisis, and individual mental health.


The COVID-19 Effect Series: Part 1
COVID-19 and its effects on diverse SOGIESC communities, HIV services and Key Populations

The COVID-19 Effect Series: Part 2
Community-Based Organisations in times of the pandemic

The COVID-19 Effect Series: Part 3
Possible effects on human rights of key populations and LGBTQI Community

The COVID-19 Effect Series: Part 4
A collective call for immediate response amid COVID-19 outbreak and government lockdowns

The COVID-19 Effect Series:
Community clinics in Thailand strives to provide HIV services amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 Effect Series:
A collective call for immediate response amid COVID-19 outbreak and government lockdowns