Marking the beginning of a new era of multi-sectoral partnerships
The crisis emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the flaws and glaring inequalities in our society, highlighting the importance of systematic collaborations to handle issues brought to light effectively. As the country has started easing the restrictions, the calls to "not go back to normal" also get heard. What lies ahead of us is unknown, but the more significant the collaboration, the easier it will bridge the gaps to carve out solutions.
Challenges during the pandemic
There was a minority who had the opportunity to work from home. In contrast, most of the population had to risk their health to ensure that they have food on the table. The pandemic's socio-economic impact was felt even more by sections of the society, like women who make up most of the essential workforce and are more likely to do unpaid domestic and care work1. Similarly, schools' closure adversely impacted many children's education in rural and urban India without access to online education.
Stakeholders came together
The development sector led from the front with resilient partnerships with other stakeholders, delivering the much-needed response through their networks. During the pandemic, collaboration has been essential in addressing the rising social tensions. In collaboration with local authorities, the NGOs provided food, medicines, and hygiene kits to the marginalized population and advocated for their social protection and livelihood. Furthermore, the sector, with the support of the private partner organizations, helped spread authentic information related to COVID-19 amongst the vulnerable population and supported them during the time of crisis. Government and the private sector continued to support the NGOs by ensuring that special focus communities' needs are met.
"At field-level, collaborative work took place with the panchayats and the district government. At a strategic level, they worked with private sector partners. Therefore, interventions to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 were implemented in close collaboration with the local government authorities, the district administration, and the private sector. We further implemented all the activities with prior permission from the district administration and support from the Panchayati Raj Institutions. The interventions also developed the capacities of specific rural committees so the children would know where to go for help. Their capabilities were developed by working with community-based structures like youth groups, mothers' groups, child protection committees, and local authorities." said Neelam Makhijani, CEO of ChildFund India.
Shared commitment for better development outcome
As advocates of humanitarian interests, civil society organizations and the government, and the private sector have put people before everything else. When one looks at it in-depth, we see that the crisis has catalyzed prioritizing issues, providing immediate solutions and sustained improvement, and building shared commitment to bring substantial change in the current socio-economic outcomes.