Inclusive coordination efforts and arrangements for tackling the Covid-19 crisis are now rarely visible across Bangladesh.
But coordination at the local level has to be strengthened with an inclusive approach, namely the government will have to engage local and national non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations in its Covid-19 response activities immediately.
The network of around 2,000 local and national NGOs in Bangladesh made the recommendation in a virtual press conference on Sunday.
Leaders of existing NGO networks of Bangladesh – from Disaster Forum, National Alliance of Humanitarian Actors (NAHAB), Network for Information Response and Preparedness Activities on Disaster, Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB) and Federation of NGOs in Bangladesh – came together in the online conference.
The group of the major NGO networks of Bangladesh also released a position paper at the press conference titled "Local and National NGOs in Bangladesh to Fight Covid-19". They made several demands and recommendations there.
The key focus of the conference was to promote localisation with the active engagement of local and national actors combined with coordination steered by the local government.
The NGO leaders asked for inclusive coordination at all levels to promote broader social mobilisation, and engagement of local leaders following the Disaster Management Act 2012 and Standing Order on Disaster.
"According to the Disaster Management Act 2012, coordination of the government with the local people, NGOs and other community representatives has to be ensured during any disaster. But no such initiative is visible now," said Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of Coast Trust, a national NGO.
"The NGOs have already responded to the ongoing crisis by creating awareness, coordinating relief work, building capacity for ensuring health safety. But we do not have any clear estimation of the financial costs which could be Tk100 crore plus."
Nayeem Gawher Wahra of the Disaster Forum expressed concern about delivering the incentive package to the hands of real farmers because there are reports of extensive mismanagement. He proposed dividing the country into different zones from highly affected to non-effected zones. "The non-affected or green zones should allow economic activities."
"We are observing many anomalies in relief distribution. If the NGOs can be involved at the union level, the people in need will not be excluded from receiving relief, and there will be no overlapping," AKM Jashim Uddin, director of ADAB, said.
"We do not have any access to any coronavirus response activities. Everything is being controlled by government employees and party activists," Nurul Alam Masud, a local NGO representative from Noakhali, said.
The NGO leaders also said that they are not getting enough funds from donor agencies in this challenging time. many micro-credit organisations did not receive their loan repayments from the receivers.