International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) COVID-19 Statement to Partners
The Novel Corona Virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has placed pressure on health systems, essential public services and communities’ day-to-day work globally. ICCCAD as an institution that works both locally and internationally on climate change in Bangladesh is concerned with the developments from this pandemic. We continue to monitor the situation and follow the guidance of the Government of Bangladesh and the World Health Organization.
ICCCAD has always been a proactive organization. In keeping up with its leadership and proactive trait, the Management took a swift action by setting up a three member COVID-19 Task Force to understand what was going on and come up with possible recommendations for management. In this regard, a number of comprehensive internal guiding documents, among others were developed and these included: Business Continuity Plan– for Management; Travel Plan, Staff Protocol for Finance, Human Resources department and Staff members; Staff Advisory for all Staff; and finally Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for everyone. These focused on guiding the management on how to work remotely but effectively, maintaining social distance and what tools staff can use in order to remain safe and yet productive. This is a measure the organization also took to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. ICCCAD management was pro-active to deal with anxiety by allowing staff to make a choice of either working at home or from the office.
Communication is a vital and powerful tool that drives any organization forward. This became important due to the current difficult moment of COVID-19. ICCCAD values the role of both internal and external communications. Our IT department was involved in designing a staff online check-in system that allowed and promoted flexibility for staff to register where they are working from (home or office) each morning. The promotion of tele-working was unavoidable, due to the existence of online communication tools like Skype and Zoom which allow text, voice and video conferencing. So this service was extended for use with project partners. Additionally, this was prudent for project planning and status discussions with relevant donors. Use of social media has been emphasized too. The management has played an important role in assisting staff adjust to this new virtual work environment.
For the last three weeks, numerous virtual meetings have been successfully hosted using ZOOM, thanks to our IT experts who have tirelessly coordinated these meetings throughout. Externally, staff has been encouraged to attend a number of webinars hosted by international organizations on topics related to COVID and its relationship with climate change. Again, the ICCCAD management has encouraged staff to take advantage of these open learning platforms being availed by other local and international organizations. Further, we have allowed staff to start Reading Groups to understand specific concepts for deriving their contextualized meanings for Bangladesh. The main reason for this was to help staff break work related monotony while learning something new.
No one suffers more from COVID-19 and its implications than a poor community (children, men and women) that are already affected by climate change impacts. With prolonged lockdowns COVID-19 undermines access to resources such as water, climate related services, including those related to survival, education, health, food and water. Social distancing also means the community members can no longer interact in groups and work together as they wish. Notwithstanding this, we are ready to weather the storm together with our stakeholders and the communities in the climate frontline. Steps towards this have been proposed and staff has complied.
At a programming level, ICCCAD is involved in a number of COVID-19 interventions that include coordination of an initiative on community resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 under Global Resilience Partnership; compilation of how COVID-19 has impacted on women under Gobeshona Women Leadership programme, Resource mobilization and Advocacy under the Global Feminist COVID-19 Collective Reflection Platform of Action; Collection of lessons learnt from Bangladesh case studies under APREM-SDGs initiative for purposes of Advocacy. Additionally, the FOREWARN, –Bangladesh Academy of Climate Services (BACS) is producing COVID-19 district wise tracking map; developing a System Dynamic Model to understand the severity of the pandemic at temporal scale in Bangladesh; and carrying out a secondary effect analysis of COVID-19 in the five most poverty-stricken and five least poverty-stricken districts of Bangladesh. Under the Livelihood Resilience, Gibika programme, a short video was developed to appreciate COVID-19 front liners. Moreover, the PaniiJibon project is planning to assist low income families in Khulna and Bagerhat with grocery or cash to survive during this general lock-down. Under the Climate Induced Migration (CIM) project, ICCCAD is collecting weekly COVID-19 related activities-based information to understand its impacts on and response to human health and food security in Mongla Port Municipality. The Mayor, his staff, Upazila Health Complex Officers, Local NGOs, Local Reporters and local community are participating in this exercise.
On the Youth front, ICCCAD plans to involve young people to partake in online COVID-19 awareness raising among family, friends and the community through a number of online activities like research, social media campaigns and individual story telling. Lastly, in solidarity, yet at personal level, ICCCAD staff has decided to be part of the COVID-19 solution. For example, Rukhsar and friends are mapping COVID-19 hot-spots in Dhaka using GIS, while Tania is embarking on small scale food distribution to affected families and groups. Meanwhile, Mimansha, a visiting Researcher, in Nepal, is collecting, analyzing and documenting COVID-19 infections as well as writing articles focusing on the local and diaspora Nepalese.