The international development community’s response in the coming months and years will be crucial to prevent widespread health and economic fallout. But large and fast disbursing programs will present massive opportunities for graft and the misuse of funds, particularly in health – from the initial procurement stage to the long supply chains characterized by a large number of individual transactions.
Provision for systematic civil society engagement in COVID19 programs can significantly enhance their impact by mitigating the diversion of funds. We are working with partners to adjust ongoing activities and timelines in the Gambia, Philippines, Myanmar and Malawi. We have provided funding to partners for new projects in India, Ghana and Uganda to jumpstart rapid response programs. We expect to expand similar programs in line with major international donor response and recovery programs around the world, particularly those supported by the World Bank.
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COVID19 Citizens' Transparency Initiative for Uganda
In Uganda, the Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU), is supporting civic engagement in the implementation of COVID19 funds and resources with the aim of contributing to increased efficiency and economy. The project employs a multi-approach strategy comprising of supporting medical workers to provide information on COVID19 preventive measures, procurements and distribution of supplies and media engagements, citizen-led monitoring of public expenditures, working with investigative journalists to unearth waste, and constructively engaging with authorities to provide feedback to improve implementation. It will initially target the Kasangati Health Centre IV, which serves over 140,000 citizens, over a six-months period to test the model for nationwide scale-up.
COVID19 Response Projects in India
PTF and the Indian Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) are co-funding two similar projects to provide relief from the adverse effects of COVID19 on migrant workers. India’s nationwide lock-down aimed at containing the epidemic has caused huge problems for vulnerable groups, including millions of migrant workers, who have been forced to leave the cities where they work with no support, no social security and no work. Many are not registered appropriately in local administration and so not able to access government relief programs.
In Ganjam, Youth for Social Development (YSD) will create community awareness on preventive measures and provide safety hygiene kits, provide dry food and essentials, identify the left out poor (eligible families) and ensure they get entitlements, assist with institutional quarantine facilities at the Gram Panchayat level. They will also advocate with local and block and district government to recognize these poor and connect the benefits particularly the special assistance and other issues arising due to COVID19. YSD as member to the civil society group and IAG-Odisha working with the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) will also take the issues to the state level.
In Ajmer, the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) will implement a project to facilitate and complement local government’s efforts to provide immediate relief to migrant workers whose lives have been disrupted by the corona crisis. This will entail distributing grocery and hygiene kits to 880 households (4400 family members) of migrant workers and raising awareness on COVID19 and related social programs. CFAR will work with local governments to help identify marginalized migrant households and apprise them of the services and facilitate access to social safety net for those who are being excluded so that they can avail benefits beyond the transitional period. CFAR is represented in Ajmer City Task Force for COVID19 relief presided by the City Commissioner and District Collector and will carry out project activities in close coordination with this apex body.
Strengthening Stakeholder Engagement and Improved Governance in the COVID 19 Response in Ghana’s Upper West Region
In Ghana, PTF is working with partner SAVE-Ghana to support citizen engagement in the implementation of COVID19 related activities with the aim of contributing to increased efficiency and effectiveness of the response to the pandemic in the upper west region of Ghana. Due to the deprived nature of the districts, information about resource allocation for a COVID-19 response is lacking among citizen groups who are supposed to be the prime target groups, thus serving as a breeding ground both for the virus and for government officials to abuse the system. The program is: 1) supporting Ghana Health Services to provide information on COVID 19 preventive measures, procurements and distribution of supplies; 2) monitoring public expenditures on COVID 19; and 3) engaging with authorities to provide feedback to improve COVID 19 response program implementation. The program will serve a population of over 160,000 citizens in the target districts over a six-month period.
Citizen Engagement on Anti-Corruption in the Gambia
In the Gambia, PTF is working with the Anti Corruption Coalition Gambia (ACCG) to adjust an ongoing anti-corruption awareness-raising project, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The re-designed project will continue to raise corruption awareness while simultaneously spreading knowledge about the pandemic. This is being done through radio programs, on public WhatsApp messages and, in coordination with the Regional Transport Associations, in flash drives given to chauffeurs containing information on the Anti-Corruption Bill and COVID19 prevention and treatment in local languages. The ACCG is planning to buy sanitation materials for community members in the project areas with funds saved by not holding in-person meetings and trainings.