Disrupt & Innovate

COVID-19 Resources for Civil Society #5

30th April 2020 by Thomas Howie

This page is part of a series of COVID-19 resource pages that we are creating to help civil society actors.

Click here to view all available pages.

Click here for our latest events news.

On this page, you will find links to readings, podcasts and videos related to the latest COVID-19 news and analysis. If you have a recommendation or a suggestion, let us know. Many thanks to our volunteer researcher Ineke Stemmet.

The sections are:

Staying up-to-date: Links to sites that will keep you abreast of important developments related to our sector and the latest news.

Strategic: We look at the impact and responses to COVID-19 in a general and intersectional way (i.e. impacts on human rights, climate change, etc).

Policy: Civil society’s policies that respond to challenges posed by COVID-19.

Operational: A list of what your organisation can do now to navigate these unprecedented times.

    1. Staying up-to-Date

  • The impact of COVID-19 on global poverty: Why Sub-Saharan Africa might be the region hardest hit (World Bank)
    COVID-19 is taking its toll on the world, causing deaths, illnesses and economic despair. But how is the deadly virus impacting global poverty? Here we’ll argue that it is pushing about 40-60 million people into extreme poverty, with our best estimate being 49 million.
  • COVID-19 response hub (Witness)
    Civic media depicting the grassroots realities of COVID-19 is vital. This resource hub supports vulnerable communities worldwide using video and technology to expose the unseen impacts of the pandemic, as well as counter lies, mobilise action, and preserve vital evidence that will help advocate for justice in future. It supports a broad-based community, including frontline healthcare workers, community leaders and social justice activists.
  • Creative Public-Private Collaborations in Taiwan and South Korea Bolster the Fight Against Coronavirus (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
    Cooperation between the public and private sectors in Taiwan and South Korea are enabling prompt response to the challenge of distributing important health products during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Global Humanitarian Response Plan COVID-19 (UN OCHA)
    This COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan aims to fight the virus in the world’s poorest countries, and address the needs of the most vulnerable people, especially women and children, older people, and those with disabilities or chronic illness. Coordinated by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, it brings together appeals from the WHO and other UN humanitarian agencies.
  • In the Northern Triangle, rising food insecurity tests NGO adaptability (Devex)
    A heightened risk of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras has mobilised NGOs in the region — even those that don’t typically engage in humanitarian response — to ensure that people in both rural and urban areas will have access to food.
  • Multidimensional Poverty and COVID-19 Risk Factors: A Rapid Overview of Interlinked Deprivations across 5.7 Billion People (Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative)
    How can poverty data help with the crisis? This briefing uses the 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to identify where people are lacking in up to 3 key poverty indicators that provide timely and relevant information for the COVID-19 response.
  • Remote technologies find a role in COVID-19 response (Devex)
    On technologies (drones, video conferencing, mobile apps, etc.) in use to deliver services remotely in various countries to overcome the confinement.
  • Report: The Impact of COVID-19 Across Africa (Geopoll)
    This study examines the perceptions and impact of COVID-19, with data collected from more than 4,500 Africans across 12 nations. Results show high levels of fear surrounding the virus its effects on economic stability and food security: 72 % are very concerned about the virus, and 80 % worried about having enough to eat in the past week.
  • Social movements in and beyond the COVID-19 crisis (Oxfam From Poverty to Power)
    Summary of readings by/on social movements and how they are dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic, amplifying the voices of activists and people organising communities through the crisis.
  • The AfCFTA gets locked down for the year (Institute for Security Studies)
    The African Continental Free Trade Agreement was supposed to be implemented on 1 July 2020 which would have had positive impacts on Africa’s economic growth and cooperation. This date has been postponed, but the article argues that this could be used as an opportunity for Africa to become independent by using its regional value chains.
  • Voices from the Field: How NGOs Are Responding to COVID-19 (TechSoup NGO Source)
    This blog highlights some organisations taking extraordinary measures to act within the constraints of the pandemic and use this opportunity to make lasting change.
  • Voices from the Ground: Stories of Community Resilience & Entrepreneurship in the Pandemic (Oxfam From Poverty to Power)
    Stories of how local communities are coping with and responding to the global crisis on four key issues: production of face masks, awareness-raising, protection of the most vulnerable, and food systems.
  • Podcast: Women Leaders are Flattening the Curve (Foreign Policy )
    This podcast explores how the response to COVID-19 of countries such as New Zealand and others have been better than others. The countries who have responded better in relative terms all have one thing in common: female leaders.

    2. Strategic

    Climate Change and Biodiversity

    • The Effect of Coronavirus on Pollution in the UK (The Eco Experts)
      The analysis looks at how much COVID-19 social distancing measures for 12 weeks (from Boris Johnson’s 19th March announcement) will reduce emissions in 5 main areas: public transport, road vehicles, air travel, energy usage, London pollution.

    Civic Space and Human Rights

    Data and Digital

    • Artificial Intelligence against COVID-19: An Early Review (IZA Institute of Labor Economics)
      This article provides an early, and necessarily selective review, discussing the contribution of AI to the fight against COVID-19, as well as the current constraints on these contributions.
    • As content moderators go home, the content could go down (Witness)
      The sudden shift to broaden algorithmic content moderation during COVID-19 has significant potential human rights implications: from hate speech staying on platforms in vulnerable societies, to the removal of critical war crimes evidence at scale from YouTube.
    • COVID-19: arming Africa with debt, aid and open digital delivery partnership (The Africa Report)
      Africa has led the world in leapfrogging through mobile and Fintech. As a result, we can now spread accurate health messages, collect data on symptoms from citizens, trace outbreaks, track financial flows through open budgets and contracts, map geospatial data with ground-truthed data collected by local ‘factivists’ and all this information can be analysed by collaborations of data scientists and AI to help predict, prevent and invest.

    Food security


    • How Will Covid-19 Affect the Role of NGOs? (Dianova)
      Lidiya Grigoreva, from the Office of the UN Director-General in Geneva, reflects on how the future of NGOs could look like after the pandemic.
    • A better society can emerge from the lockdowns (Financial Times)
      Amartya Sen on how history shows some crises lead to improved equality and access to food and healthcare.
    • After the Immediate Coronavirus Crisis: 3 Scenarios for Global Development (Global Policy)
      Three scenarios for how the world might look after the immediate COVID-19 crisis has passed: (i) an ugly scenario of a global meltdown, (ii) a bad scenario of a return to the pre-COVID-19 state of climate breakdown and considerable inequality, and (iii) a good scenario of a transition towards global sustainable development (a considerable challenge).
    • Click Here: New Normals During and After COVID-19 (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
      Links from SSIR’s editors to interesting news, essays, tweets, research, videos, podcasts, and more.
    • Coronavirus is accelerating eight challenging megatrends (Sydney Morning Herald/The Telegraph)
      The forces that will shape all our futures – the global tensions, the economic policies, the political ideas, the new technologies – are being sped up. We are about to experience the next 20 years in 12 months, and we need to get ready for it.
    • COVID-19 as a Critical Juncture and the Implications for Advocacy (Global Policy)
      Duncan Green’s essay on the possible longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on political, economic and social systems, the potential impact on the aid sector, and the implications for progressive advocacy, whether by CSOs or others, in defending past gains, building on new opportunities or heading off new threats.
    • Not back to normal (Elephant in the Lab)
      The bureaucrats lost control. When leaders take away uncertainty, many people feel comforted. More pessimistic and sceptic people may develop dystopian ideas, and conspiracy theories find a fertile ground to flourish. Optimistic and naïve people dream of the COVID-19 crisis supporting a revolution towards a better and more sustainable world. But uncertainty is a fundamental characteristic of complex systems, and a crisis confronts us with many alternative scenarios for the future. Plan for the unplannable.
    • Podcast: At a Distance (The Slowdown)
      A new documentary podcast series on the bigger picture and the interconnectedness of things, calling leading minds to get a whole-earth long-view perspective. Includes: the power of long-term thinking, finding a ‘whole society’ consensus, COVID-19’s impact and the climate crisis, and many more fascinating topics.
    • This is the best time to plan for urban Africa’s next health emergency (Quartz Africa)
      COVID-19 should trigger an extraordinary convening of coordinated emergency foresight teams across sectors and geographical boundaries to develop and effect strategies and action plans for a long-term change to reduce vulnerability to, and the risk of future emergencies.

    Gender Equality

    Global China

    • China, the coronavirus, and the liberal international order (Open Global Rights)
      China’s apparent success in tackling COVID-19 will bolster its authoritarian political system—and its restrictive approach to human rights.
    • Coronavirus: Will China come out on top? (BBC World Service) Podcast
      This podcasts brings together different experts and explores and debates China’s global future with regards to economics and security. China was hit first and will probably emerge out of the crisis first, however it still faces various economic, demographic and global challenges.

    Leave No One Behind – Inclusion

    • COVID-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch (Africa Portal)
      The global outbreak has the potential to wreak havoc in fragile states, trigger widespread unrest and severely test international crisis management systems. Its implications are especially serious for those caught in the midst of conflict if the disease disrupts humanitarian aid flows, limits peace operations and postpones diplomacy efforts at diplomacy.
    • Inclusive, empathetic communication will be a game changer in the Covid-19 emergency (Masimanyane Women’s Rights International)
      A South African perspective which argues that the language used around the COVID-19 pandemic can have an exclusionary effect on those living in poverty, migrants and the most vulnerable in the community.
    • Redefining vulnerability in the Era of COVID-19 (Lancet)
      Article focusses on vulnerable people who carry more of a risk regarding COVID-19. It argues that people who are not necessarily deemed vulnerable at the outset of the pandemic could become so as a result of policy responses.

      Multilateralism and international cooperation


      • The coming battle for the COVID-19 narrative (Vox)
        COVID-19 (along with climate change) will alter how we think about the economy and public policy, but also the ways in which people talk about their livelihoods and futures. It will likely prompt a leftward shift on the government-versus-markets axis. But more important, it may draw on social values going beyond compliance and material gain to include ethical motivations of solidarity and duty that underpin community.

      Pandemic Specific Consequences and Responses (economic, health & social impacts)

      Populism and Authoritarianism

            3. Policy

        • Policy brief: Environmental health and strengthening resilience to pandemics (OECD)
          COVID-19 highlights the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach to human health. Enhancing environmental health through better air quality, water and sanitation, waste management, along with efforts to safeguard biodiversity, will reduce the vulnerability of communities to pandemics and thus improve overall societal well-being and resilience.
        • Statement on the COVID-19 response from civil society members of OGP Steering Committee (Open Government Partnership)
          The civil society members of OGP’s Steering Committee has released this statement on COVID-19 and its risks to open government. Focused on the need to sustain democratic values, the statement is a call to action to governments, donors and international organisations.
        • The time to act is now (Africa Is a Country)
          A letter from more than 90 African intellectuals to African leaders about the continent’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

            4. Operational

        • The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Learning Pathway – Open Access (Humanitarian Leadership Academy)
          The COVID-19 Learning Pathway aims to enable humanitarians, including local responders, to be best equipped to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic. More than 5,000 learners have already signed up.
        • Urban Considerations for World Vision’s COVID-19 Response (World Vision)
          What puts cities at higher risk of COVID-19 transmission? Poverty and marginalisation of specific groups and spaces creating hotspots of the pandemic in urban areas. This document serves to provide specific recommendations to the four strategic objectives of WV’s global response to COVID-19 in urban contexts, and considers needs beyond prevention and response.

        Thomas Howie

        Communications Manager

        International Civil Society Centre

        Thomas joined the Centre in June 2017 as the Communications Coordinator. He is responsible for developing and implementing the Centre’s global communication strategy, as well as the Disrupt & Innovate platform – a place for civil society professionals and activists to discuss current innovations and future trends in the civil society sector. Prior to the Centre, Thomas worked for 5 years in the European Parliament firstly as the Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and then, after the 2014 European elections, for Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen as Head of Communications, where he worked on issues such as the EU-US trade deal, issues around Brexit and as a specialist on the Petitions Committee. Thomas graduated from Bristol University with BSci in Geographical Sciences and holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, where he completed research into the role of civil society in the post war peace settlement in northern Uganda.