NGOs and civil society groups demanded that the government undertake a long-term plan involving them in tackling the novel coronavirus which is likely to continue for a while and will heavily impact livelihoods.
They said NGOs have been actively involved in the country's development process and have their networks in the grassroots level. They have vast range of expertise on health, education, microfinance, disaster management and livelihood programmes and can be utilised in this crisis.
As such, empowering them with finance and engaging them with local government bodies could be an effective way to address many of the challenges arising from the pandemic, representatives of NGOs and civil society members said during a virtual press conference today.
NGO networks – BDCSO Process, CCNF (Cox's Bazar CSO NGO Forum), Disaster Forum, National Alliance for Humanitarian Actors in Bangladesh (NAHAB) and NIRAPAD (Network for Information, Response and Preparedness, Activities on Disaster) along with ADAB (Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh) and FNB (Federation of NGOs in Bangladesh) organised the conference on "NGOs in Corona Response in Bangladesh".
In a presentation, Abdul Latif Khan, technical advisor of NAHAB, said until May 25, NGOs have reached 14.8 million beneficiaries with assistance. They have spent Tk 1.56 billion. Of that, 10 percent was mobilised locally.
The 212 NGOs of the networks provided assistance in 49 districts. The assistance includes creating awareness, food, health materials and cash.
NIRAPAD Programme Manager Hasina Akhter Mita said NGOs are the best means to reach the remote areas and marginalised communities. "The government should effectively engage local NGOs," she said.
Disaster Forum Member Secretary Nayeem Gowhar Warha called for strong coordination between local government and NGOs, especially in district levels for long term planning and implementation of programmes required to mitigate the fallouts of the pandemic.
This will help sustainability of national and local NGOs, he said.
Dr Ehsanur of NAHAB, Bimol Sarkar of CCNF and Rafiqul Islam of FNB also spoke at the press conference moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of BDCSO Process.