[Opinion] COVID-19 Blues: How are CSOs in Northern Ghana coping?

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A lot has changed in the last few months. The outbreak of COVID-19 is not something anyone bargained for, but here it is, with all its consequent effects in all aspects of life. The pandemic has exposed the world to collective anxiety, tragedy and inspiration.

The business community has laid a strong claim of being the hard-hit sector by COVID-19 pandemic, as the sector records a drastic decline in production and revenue levels, pushing many into bankruptcy and near collapse situations. It is equally worth noting that some companies have turned this misfortune to their advantage, stretching their inventive acumen for sustenance and growth.

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The non-profit sector players, particularly the civil society, are not spared either. A quick check on some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Northern Ghana, through a survey, revealed that the impact of COVID-19 has manifested in diverse ways in their operations.

It is more challenging for nonprofits who are into capacity building and advocacy rather than those into direct service delivery. The pandemic is affecting activity implementation, timelines, deliverables, finances and the psyche of staff. The fate of the staff of some CSOs hangs in the balance. The fear of losing their jobs exacerbates day by day, since their inability to implement certain projects, may cause laying off staff, given the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end.

Some CSOs, according to the survey, have cancelled some activities, adjusted mode of implementation of many of them to conform with the preventive etiquette of COVID-19 and tweaked other activities considerably to counter the spread and effects of the outbreak. But not without the consent of their funding agencies.

For instance, the GDCA and YEFL-Ghana under their Empowerment for Life Program, are collaborating with health professionals and the Municipal and District Assemblies (local authorities) within their catchment area to provide comprehensive education on COVID-19 using the dominant local languages on five partner radio stations. This has increased awareness and consciousness of rural communities, even the hard-to-reach communities.

COVID-19 undoubtedly has also triggered innovation in the operations of CSOs. Restrictions in movement increased the use of online platforms for meetings, conferences, webinars, pieces of training and staff working remotely from their homes.

The uncertainty clouding the pandemic makes it much easier to predict rain in the dry season than to tell when COVID-19 pandemic will end.

Most of the CSOs have reaffirmed their commitment to continue to sensitise their constituents and encourage them to adjust to the ‘new normal’ way of living with others and the coronavirus.

 

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