Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) see resource constraints, a lack of support from local government institutions and people's representatives, and interventions from local influential people as major obstacles to carrying out their Covid-19 response activities.
Against this backdrop, experts have suggested forming a platform to ensure a stronger coordination between government institutions and NGOs working locally in various parts of the country to face the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Speaking at a virtual dialogue organised by the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh on Wednesday, they also proposed forming another platform for NGOs working at the national level to contribute to government policy development.
Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, convener of the citizen's platform, moderated the webinar styled "Experiences from the current situation at the grassroots level: Achievements and challenges".
He said more than 90 percent of local NGOs are supporting the people through various programmes during the pandemic time, while about 71 percent of them are maintaining constant communication with local government bodies.
The NGOs are working to prevent various social ills such as violence against women and children. They are also monitoring government relief distribution activities, providing healthcare services, raising public awareness, distributing soap and masks, establishing wash stations, and so forth, said Dr Debapriya.
He also noted that over 90 percent of NGOs have reported resource constraints as the foremost impediment to operating support activities, and 68 percent of them have blamed it on the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
About 20 representatives of local NGOs shared their experiences at the event, and most of them complained that they do not get necessary cooperation from government officials, local government bodies, and public representatives in carrying out their activities.
Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, country director of The Hunger Project and core group member of the platform presided over the event. He said NGOs should maintain strong communication, coordination, and community engagement to protect the people from the adverse impact of Covid-19.
He also said Covid-19 has now spread all over the country as a result of the government's failure to take prompt measures to contain the virus when it was limited only in some hotspots.
The government also failed to earn people's confidence, which is why the people could not trust the statistics the government was providing regarding Covid-19. He, therefore, asked NGOs to earn people's confidence and trust.
He also urged the government to work for the protection of all people from Covid-19 without discrimination.
Pointing out that local NGOs lack coordination among themselves, Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) and another core group member of the platform, suggested creating a platform of local NGOs to coordinate their activities and ensure proper use of resources.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said Cyclone Amphan, floods and other natural disasters have made the Covid-19 response activities harder.
He suggested that the government should launch a separate relief programme for the third gender, physically challenged and other backward segments of society.
Meanwhile, Chittagong Stock Exchange Chairman Asif Ibrahim said the pandemic has resulted in a shutting down of more than half of the micro industries in the country. He, therefore, called upon the government to prepare a transparent and credible list of the affected micro industries before distributing stimulus among them.