CVA in COVID-19 contexts: guidance from the CaLP network

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By Alice Golay, Sophie Tholstrup

This is a summary of the key points from the many resources you shared on CVA and COVID through this document. This is a living document and we will continue to update this summary as new resources are added. The below is intended to help organisations understand and prepare for likely impacts of COVID-19 on their work, consider whether CVA is right for the contexts in which they operate and - if so - the considerations at each stage of the programme cycle for how to deliver safely and effectively.

What might COVID-19 mean for the settings in which we work?

The rich world has been laser focused on itself to date and contingency plans for low income settings have been limited. The recommendations - stay home, keep your distance, stock up on food and basic items - aren’t broadly applicable in most humanitarian contexts. Social policy and government advice will need to look different in these settings.

We should prepare for significant needs, and soon. There is consensus that when COVID19 starts to spread in low income settings, densely populated areas (including camps), lack of facilities for hand-washing and weak health systems will contribute to more rapid spread and likely higher fatality rate than we have seen elsewhere. “Poverty can fuel contagion, but contagion can also create or deepen impoverishment.”

Containment measures and their economic fallout are likely to hurt more than the disease itself, and for longer. Unfortunately, the better we are at slowing down the spread with the preventive measures, the longer the economic impact will last (from individual to company levels). The broader economic impacts will be harder to grasp and are likely to last over a long period of time. As we saw in the West Africa Ebola epidemic, the economic impacts caused more deaths than the disease itself. Broad layoffs, restrictions on movement and market access will affect many households’ income and coping strategies, including households who were relatively well off before the pandemic. As well as short term support we need to consider how to provide support to those affected over the longer term.

CVA is seen by some as a safer option for providing rapid relief where conditions allow. We are seeing some organisations switch from in kind assistance to CVA which allows more remote delivery, less clustering at distribution sites and can reduce transmission risk. See the programme considerations below to understand whether CVA is right for the settings in which you work and how to deliver it in ways which minimise risk.