The Department for International Development has started to distribute emergency funds to aid charities fighting coronavirus overseas.
DFID confirmed that a total of £18m has been granted to six charities: Christian Aid, GOAL, Humanity & Inclusion, Action Against Hunger, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and CARE.
Fewer than 40 charities were eligible to apply to the £20m funding pot, which was restricted to large, pre-approved NGOs from DFID’s Rapid Response Facility (RRF) group.
Bond, the umbrella group for aid organisations in the UK, has called for DFID to “urgently increase” the amount of emergency money available under the RRF. Bond has previously estimated that aid charities faced financial losses of more than £1.2bn because of coronavirus.
Small aid charities
Smaller development charities have also been invited to apply for existing DFID funding to help them fight coronavirus, although some organisations will not receive funds until at least December.
Civil Society News understands that charities which already hold UK Aid Direct grants can apply to a rapid access fund during the next 48 hours, and could receive money as soon as next month. 61 organisations are eligible for this rapid funding.
However, new applicants to the UK Aid Direct scheme will not receive notification of funding decisions until the end of the year.
Bond: Increase funding to £100m
Stephanie Draper, the chief executive at Bond, said: “Covid-19 looks set to trigger a global humanitarian emergency and these projects will undoubtedly help communities by getting health care, clean water and sanitation and food to many people. We also know that many other NGOs stand ready to help millions of vulnerable people with worked up plans from this RRF.
“We hope DFID will urgently increase the amount allocated to the Rapid Response Facility to £100m, and encourage them to continue to utilise other funding mechanisms so we do not lose out on the critical expertise and access smaller, grassroots NGO have.
“Expertise, speed and access to vulnerable communities are critical if we are to curb the number of lives lost to COVID-19.”
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, international development secretary, said that DFID was “reprioritising” much of its funding to support the fight against coronavirus.
She added: “This pandemic is having a devastating impact on people all over the world and I am very grateful to charities and NGOs for their vital work to keep people safe.”
Joint call for action
More than 400 aid charities from across the world, including Save the Children, Oxfam and Restless Development, have joined forces to call for “joined-up” action to address the impact of the pandemic.
The coalition of charities has issued a twelve-point plan for during and after the pandemic, as well as for rebuilding society once the crisis is passed.
It includes protecting human rights and free speech in the immediate response to the virus, maintaining a focus on environmental concerns as countries begin to recover from the impact of Covid-19, and the cancellation of national debt to help countries as they emerge from the crisis.