Dear colleagues, collaborators, partner institutions and supporters,
This is a special message in times of big uncertainties. Today our nation and the world are facing an unimaginable threat that is challenging health and social care systems at the global level and is impacting our existence in so many directions. As the world comes together like never before to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, government, health workers, police and army forces, businesses and civil society are working together to safeguard the health and welfare of people.
Physical (rather than social) distancing is considered essential in stopping the spread of the virus and for this reason, it is vital for each of us to embrace and observe the government measures to this regard. Still, it cannot stop social solidarity, and we have seen it developed in so many innovative and inspiring forms. The new rules of living, have made us find new ways to interact, stay connected and support each other in these times of hardship.
The civil society sector has a big role to play during this period in its mission to assist its constituencies and communities it serves. In this pandemic people in need, vulnerable groups will feel even more vulnerable and we have to do our best, with the support of our generous donors, to mitigate this risk at our best efforts.
It will require civil society groups to make shifts in their strategies, reorient their programs and actions in addressing the needs and issues related to the COVID-19 situation. Continuation of activities, at a moment when the number one priority is ensuring the safety and welfare of our staff, will require adaptation and innovation.
It will require donors, either governmental donors (national and international) or private businesses and individuals to continue supporting the sector and show enough flexibility and adjustability conform the situation. This is an urgent situation, which requires an urgent response. The entire civil society infrastructure is under threat because of financial uncertainties, with projects being frozen, lack of financial liquidity or reserve funds to maintain staff and even minimum operations running.
Partners Albania as an organization that serves the civil society organizations in Albania, and support its development needs through National Resource Centre for Civil Society, joins the call of networks where it adheres and CIVICUS appeal to the donor community to:
- Listen to grantee partners and together explore how you can best help them face the crisis, trusting they know best what is needed in their own contexts.
- Encourage the re-design and re-scheduling of planned activities and deliverables and provide clear guidance on how to seek approval for these changes.
- Support new and creative ways of creating a culture of solidarity and interaction while adhering to the physical distancing and other precautionary measures.
- Offer greater flexibility by reconsidering payment installments based on actual needs, converting existing project grants into unrestricted funds, or adding extra funds to help build-up reserves or cover unexpected costs.
- Simplify reporting and application procedures and timeframes so that civil society groups can better focus their time, energy and resources in supporting the most vulnerable rather than on meeting heavy reporting and due diligence requirements.
In the meantime, we at Partners Albania and NRC continue with our programs and services, which are transferred totally online. We are very happy to see that during these last two weeks, despite the general distress and fear, the interest and engagement of our audiences remain high. We commend all the organizations and individuals, but also our trainers, consultants, service providers for their commitment and flexibility.
In addition to our already planned activities, Partners Albania is working to:
- Keeping close contacts with its sub-grantees to discuss the best way possible to adjust to the situation and support them.
- Swiftly assess the effect of the situation on the civil society organizations in the country. A questionnaire has been already sent out which can be accessed here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PSM9W95
- Provide relevant information to the sector with regard to COVID-19. For that you can visit the new window on our website, labeled COVID-19 where you may find information on government measures, measures and instructions affecting the NPOs, main links to websites reporting on the pandemic, inspiring stories and innovation taking place in Albania and globally.
- Provide free services for civil society groups. We are working to provide free access to online platforms to groups in order to support their activity.
- Provide training on the use of such platforms.
- Facilitate volunteer mobilizing and fundraising efforts.
Please, continue to write and call us! We are committed to doing our best to assist you in your noble efforts to address the situation.
We are all together in this! We are together not only in our fears and anxieties but also in our need for each other to create hopes for the future.