Home News COVID-19: ActionAid Nigeria Decries Exclusion of CSOs, Calls for Accountability

COVID-19: ActionAid Nigeria Decries Exclusion of CSOs, Calls for Accountability

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ActionAid Nigeria, an anti-poverty non-governmental organization, has decried the exclusion of Civil Society Organizations by the Federal Government in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization has also called for accountability and prioritization of vulnerable women, children, aged and persons with disabilities in the distribution of palliatives to cushion the effect of coronavirus.
The organization disclosed this in a statement made available to OYOINSIGHT.COM signed by its Country Director, Ene Obi dated April 3, 2020.
According to him, the organization has followed with keen interest the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization also applauded some of the steps taken by the Presidential Task Force and other stakeholders including the media and first responders who are working tirelessly to ensure that the novel virus is exterminated from the country.
He stressed further that as an anti-poverty non-governmental organization willing to combat poverty and promote social justice in Nigeria, the organization has deemed it fit to highlight its response and comment on governments response strategy thus far particularly as it affects the primary beneficiaries; women, children, youths and persons with disabilities
“ActionAid Nigeria is currently responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with Activista Nigeria; a youth movement consisting 2957 youths, 28 women-led organizations, 12 Local Rights Programme partners and the CSO Network on Social Protection consisting of 60 CSO groups across the federation.
“AAN’s immediate response is focused on protection services for women and girls, awareness, prevention, and control; this we are implementing through community-based facilitators who have received safety kits and the pandemic awareness materials including megaphones, flyers, posters, and banners with messages in local languages.
“Working with community-based facilitators is a safeguarding approach to mitigate the risk of staff and partners infecting or being infected in the response process. The community-based facilitators are leading the awareness campaigns in the communities and providing real-time updates on the situation.” The statement read.
He then highlighted ten observations made by the organization on the response of the Federal Government. They are;
1. A huge amount of funding has been committed to the COVID-19 response by both the government and private sector, yet there is no proper accountability put in place, which is likely to breed corruption and defeat the effectiveness of the government’s noble efforts.
2. The idea to sustain the school feeding program is commendable, however, children are not in school and there is no clear workable strategy for its implementation. More so, there is no clear information on how child education will be sustained nationally at this time.
3. Access to testing and quality of service received by COVID-19 infected persons remains a point of concern with some citizens reportedly paying for testing while others have complained of neglect and favoritism of infected influential persons.
4. The attention on public health has shifted to the COVID-19 outbreak, women, and citizens with other ailments are finding it more difficult to access much-needed healthcare services; as some state governments are converting health facilities to isolation centers.
5. The conditional cash transfer was initially designed to capture a particular set of beneficiaries under a ‘normal’ social and economic environment, however, COVID-19 has altered that environment, hence, the beneficiaries list has expanded to include another set of persons affected by the pandemic.
6. Women constitute a higher number of Nigeria’s informal economic sector and the lockdown will significantly affect them due to the increased burden of unpaid care work, loss of work and markets for their goods. Yet, the government’s palliative measures are not prioritizing women. The exclusion of the Ministry of Women Affairs from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 further hinders the voices and needs of women being captured in governments’ response strategy.
7. There is a high probability that increased cases of Gender-Based Violence especially towards women will be recorded at this time, but the Federal government’s response strategy did not capture a well-defined service provision for survivors.
8. Information gaps, misconceptions and myths are still high amongst Nigerians, particularly at the grassroots. The concept of social distancing remains a mirage to many, campaign messages seems to omit children and persons with disabilities such as the deaf and blind
9. The lockdown of the states with infected cases is noble, but it will be ineffective if adjourning states do not follow suit.
10. Civil Society Organizations who are the independent observers with workable solutions to coordination challenges are not carried along in the implementation of the strategy.
He also recommended ten measures to solve these issues. Which are;
1. Set a clear accountability mechanism structure in partnership with Civil Society Organizations to track and monitor the utilization of resources committed to the COVID-19 response.
2. Innovate and communicate ways on how child education will be sustained nationally at this time while they are at home.
3. Ensure that access to testing and quality of service is prioritized irrespective of citizen’s status.
4. Ensure that the focus on COVID-19 does not lead to the diversion of resources away from other existing health priorities such as efforts to eliminate maternal and child mortality.
5. Work with CSOs and other existing structures who already have a database of the poorest of the poor including the aged, to ensure they benefit from the advance conditional cash transfer, as our findings show that some of the most vulnerable and poor are omitted from the list and will suffer other complications other than COVID-19.
6. Prioritize vulnerable women in its palliative measures to cushion their loss of income because when women are reached, their household benefits. Electricity, water, food should be available to households to reduce the burden of care work on women.
7. Include Gender-Based Violence (GBV) care as part of essential services, update GBV referral pathways and provide extra funding for GBV service provision.
8. Ensure that awareness and prevention campaigns are intensified at the grassroots to demystify the myths and misconceptions about the novel virus. Such campaigns should be audience-specific considering the information needs of children, the aged, the blind and deaf.
9. Ensure that states implement the lockdown order as a matter of urgency for effectiveness with adequate notice to enable citizens to prepare for the lockdown.
10. Expand the membership of the COVID-19 response team to include CSOs for effective coordination, accountability, and transparency in the entire response.

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