OUR MEDIUM-TERM APPROACH TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has resulted in far-reaching socio-economic implications for communities globally. While the impact varies from country to country, increases in poverty and inequalities have been felt by those who already experience multiple spheres of exclusion and deprivation such as the unemployed, casual workers, those who are chronically ill and the homeless. The LGBTI community in Southern Africa has not escaped this increased vulnerability. The pandemic has added a strenuous layer to the multiple and intersecting forms of marginalization already experienced by the community. In addition, the emergency and often punitive measures enacted by states, albeit imposed to control the spread of the virus, have affected public service delivery. This has disproportionately affected LGBTI people as one particularly marginalized and vulnerable group, amongst others.
Restrictions on movement and limitations on public transport services have impacted access to health services to the community who suffer from higher rates of underlying health conditions. Mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety and suicidal ideation are often exacerbated by experiences of homophobia and transphobia during confinement to the home. For transgender and intersex people, restrictions on access to gender-affirming health care, deemed non-essential and cosmetic, present an added problem while increases in rates of gender-based violence place lesbian, bisexual, intersex, and transgender women at heightened risk, including the risk of suffering so-called ‘corrective’ rape. These situations are worsened by laws that directly or indirectly criminalize non-normative sexual orientation and gender expression and which make it difficult to seek help for fear of reprisals.
The COVID-19 crisis has not only impacted individual community members but has also affected community organizing and service provision by our grantees. The community is at the risk of losing support from individual donors whose economies have been hard hit by the pandemic and in situations where funding is redirected to COVID-19 relief efforts that may not be attentive to the particular challenges faced by marginalized LGBTI people. This has a direct impact on community mobilization and advocacy efforts and presents the risk of a reversal of the momentum and gains that have been achieved in recent years in LGBTI organizing demonstrated by increased LGBTI visibility and progressive changes in attitudes, policies and practices throughout Southern Africa.
In addition, lockdown regulations enacted in almost all Southern African countries have necessitated work from locations other than the office. This has presented an added challenge to organizations that do not have resources for remote working, including audiovisual tools such as laptops and internet connectivity with high bandwidth, as well as digital security tools.
While the responsibility to provide care to communities during public health emergencies lies with national governments, it is important to develop manageable response plans to support those most at risk and to ensure continued deep and lasting social, political, and economic progress for LGBTI people in Southern Africa.
It is against this backdrop that the Other Foundation, after consultation with many of its partners, has adopted a COVID-19 response plan that reflects nuance, mitigates risk and tries to optimize available funding to build resilience against rollback on movement gains. This is critical for holding the line of diversity and inclusion until we can return to the important work of advancing the line.
Being careful to comply with the existing obligations that we have to donors who have given funds to the Other Foundation to support the achievement of specific objectives, and not losing sight of the overall goal of preventing the reversal of gains in organizing, visibility, and advocacy, as well as other efforts to especially support the groups whose continued existence is most vulnerable to the shock that the COVID-19 crisis presents, the Other Foundation will, as far as possible, focus its support in the following areas:
- Support for remote work, gatherings and digital security
- Support for the procurement of masks, sanitizers, temperature measures and other equipment necessary for combating the spread of COVID-19 for grantee staff and volunteers to enable them to continue working where they can.
- Documentation of human rights abuses as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and referral of cases to the relevant authorities or advocacy groups.
This will be done through:
- Flexibility in the management of existing grants, that may include changes in deliverables and outcomes which may be unachievable in the current context and may need to be scaled back or adapted to the circumstances. This may include converting some existing grants to general operating grants to cover organizational needs on a case by case basis on the request of the grantee, depending on the outcome of dialogue with specific back donors on the possibility of doing this so as to ensure compliance with donor agreements.
- Making a limited amount of existing funds available for new small grants specifically for COVID-19 responses in LGBTI communities in the region, including supporting the movement of donor-advised funds to specific organizations, top-up grants to existing grantees which (on a mutually voluntary basis) partner with more vulnerable groups to support them, and intensified efforts to raise additional funds to distribute to LGBTI groups in the region.
The Other Foundation will at the same time itself develop longer-term adaptation, innovation, and sustainability strategies and practices, and support the development of the same by its partners.
We invite members of the LGBTI community as well as friends and supporters of the Other Foundation to donate towards supporting our Covid-19 response plan. We do not take any part of the donation to cover our operational costs. Whatever you give goes directly to supporting projects, and we commit to keeping you updated about which projects were supported with your money. Click here to make your donation.