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COVID-19 Remote Management Strategy

Many organizations are shifting to remote management to adjust to public health measures imposed because of COVID-19. This may be perceived by many as a temporary action, while in reality organizations should be thinking to empower local partners independently of the COVID-19 crisis. The article “Opinion: How to ensure that your COVID-19 remote management strategy empowers local partners” was published on Devex.

Many organizations are shifting to remote management to adjust to public health measures imposed because of COVID-19. This may be perceived by many as a temporary action, while in reality organizations should be thinking to empower local partners independently of the COVID-19 crisis. The article “Opinion: How to ensure that your COVID-19 remote management strategy empowers local partners” was published on Devex.

The following was adapted from that article. It presents an interesting perspective on steps that should be thought about while transitioning to remote management and some actions that should have been taken to respond to localized priorities ahead of the pandemic and throughout programming.

Here are four key lessons from the Devex article on developing partnerships with local actors while managing and monitoring remotely.

How to Ensure that Your COVID-19 Remote Management Strategy Empowers Local Partners

1. Allow real co-design and co-ownership of projects.

Organizations forced to move from direct programming to remote operations should shift from a mentality of remote management (in which local partners implement programmes designed by donors and international non-governmental organizations) to one of remote collaboration (drawing on partners’ local knowledge, relationships and creativity). INGOs should recognize that local actors are well positioned to serve their communities during crises such as COVID-19 and support them. They are best placed to understand how the pandemic and public health responses are impacting the most vulnerable and what interventions are needed.

For example, the Ebola Community Action Platform in Liberia, launched in 2014, saw promising outcomes after granting 77 local civil society organizations substantial autonomy over designing and adapting mobilization activitiesto respond to local norms and information needs.

2. Integrate partner-driven capacity strengthening with project delivery.

Local organizations may be the actors best equipped to act quickly in crises such as COVID-19. INGOs often evacuate expatriate staff during crises. Without the luxury of evacuating, an INGO’s national staff and local partners often assume the risks of continuing to deliver aid, so it is vital that they have the capacity to do so.

Working with local partners to jointly map risk transfer can build their capacity to make informed decisions about how to adapt their activities and operations. Supporting the development of local partners’ capacityimproves implementation fidelity, adherence to humanitarian principles and the safety and security of partners.

Training has the best chance of leading to durable changes in operations when it is targeted to learning needs identified by organizations themselves and is delivered over the course of a project cycle to allow for reinforcement, feedback and ‘learning by doing’.

3. Build on existing trusted relationships and forge new ones when required.

Widespread local trust is particularly important for the types of public health activities that are being implemented as part of the pandemic response and which will entail information dissemination, community mobilization and behaviour change. With restricted access to partners, international actors need to establish two-way trust with partners through open and responsive communications and an emphasis on building the interpersonal skills of the team members who are regularly interacting with partners.

4. Respond to immediate needs but build long-term relationships.

Even when full access is restored, continuing to partner with local organizations and communities builds local resilience to future shocks.

Your Task

Now that you have read this article, what do you like about it? What additional recommendations would you consider to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic is used as an opportunity to empower communities for years to come?

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