The COVID-19 pandemic has made EWMI’s support of Albania’s only fact-checking service, Faktoje, even more urgent and important. With support from EWMI through its Justice for All (JfA) project funded by USAID, Faktoje will be producing an awareness raising video on countering disinformation related to COVID-19, building a database with reliable information on COVID-19, and working with local journalists to report accurate information on COVID-19 in their communities. Track developments at: www.faktoje.al. EWMI is also supporting its counterparts in the Albanian judiciary by sharing information on how other judiciaries are responding to the pandemic and facilitating remote meetings of the country’s High Judicial Council (HJC).
COVID-19 Notable Resources and EWMI Program Responses
The ongoing 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID – 19) pandemic is having profound global health, societal and economic impacts. During this difficult time, EWMI’s top priority is the wellbeing of our staff, implementing partners, grantees, and the communities we serve. Although we have adjusted our operations to ensure the safety of the EWMI community, we remain committed to our mission and will continue to work to strengthen democratic societies around the world. On this page, EWMI is sharing a collection of Rule of Law, Civil Society, and Health Disparities and Social Inequality resources that we hope will be useful to our counterparts and colleagues around the world as they navigate the new challenges this pandemic presents. To learn more about what EWMI is doing on the ground please read the EWMI Program Responses section of this page.
The links below are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by East-West Management Institute. EWMI bears no responsibility for the content of the external site or for that of subsequent links.
COVID-19: Rule of Law Resources
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the rule of law around the world. In an effort to share ideas, approaches, and issues with our counterparts and colleagues around the world, EWMI has compiled a collection of articles, webpages, and resources that provide guidance and information on how various aspects of justice systems in the United States and in other countries are responding to the pandemic. The materials, which by no means are intended to be exhaustive, cover how the pandemic is affecting courts, prisons, and access to justice, among other issues. We hope that you find this information useful. Our goal will be to post periodic updates for as long as the information is helpful and relevant. If you are aware of additional articles, materials, or training opportunities that you would like to see added to this resource, please submit them to Remi Vespi, Senior Program Manager – Legal Programs, at email@example.com.
COVID-19: Civil Society Resources
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten our health and to disrupt our political, economic, social, and cultural lives. As civil society actors, we also need to continue doing our work by providing information and services to the groups we serve, defending human rights and democratic institutions and practices, and monitoring the governments’ actions to address the pandemic and beyond. In an effort to share ideas, approaches, and concerns with our counterparts and colleagues around the world, EWMI has compiled the following collection of articles, webpages, and resources that provide guidance and information on approaches, tactics, and tools that civil society actors in the United States and other countries are using or could use to respond to the pandemic. These materials, which by no means are intended to be exhaustive, cover issues related to: the operating environment for civil society organizations (CSOs), CSOs’ role in addressing COVID-19 pandemic and in monitoring governments’ service delivery during the pandemic, potential threats to civil liberties and democracy, freedom of information and the right to information, disinformation, funding sources for CSOs, use of big data, digital and other resources available to CSOs. We hope that you find this information useful. Our goal is to post periodic updates for as long as the information is helpful and relevant. If you are aware of additional articles, materials or training opportunities that you would like to see added to this resource, please submit them to Alexandra Zenoff, Senior Program Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19: Health Disparities and Social Inequality Resources
As in other historical and existing public health crises, vulnerable groups are disproportionately shouldering the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, underlying inequalities are often exacerbated in emergencies, and the current pandemic is no different in that respect. For both of these reasons, inequalities must be taken into consideration in designing prevention and response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to share ideas, approaches, and concerns with our counterparts and colleagues around the world, EWMI has compiled the following collection of articles, webpages, and resources that provide guidance and information on approaches, tactics, and tools that civil society actors in the United States and other countries are using or could use to respond to the pandemic. These materials, which by no means are intended to be exhaustive, cover issues related to the effects of social inequality, race, racism, and xenophobia during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that you find this information useful. Our goal is to post periodic updates for as long as the information is helpful and relevant. If you are aware of additional articles, materials or training opportunities that you would like to see added to this resource, please submit them to Alexandra Zenoff, Senior Program Manager, email@example.com.
COVID-19: EWMI Program Responses
EWMI is making every effort to keep everyone safe and healthy during this pandemic and has asked our global offices to comply with all local and national laws, declarations, and efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Our programs have adjusted operations to ensure safety, but continue to serve their communities during this time of need. This section highlights the ways in which our programs have adapted their activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
EWMI SEDA staff is producing and sharing public health awareness videos and posts through the Community Development House Facebook page. The Community Development House was established by SEDA in January 2020 to serve as a resource center for the communities the SEDA supports. To learn more about their work please visit: https://www.facebook.com/cdhseda/
On March 30th, the Government of Azerbaijan issued a resolution imposing an enhanced stay-at-home regime in the country from April 1 to May 31, 2020. The stay-at-home regime required total lock down for four major cities – Baku, Ganja, Lankaran, and Sumgait, prohibited travel to and from these four cities, while allowing for meetings of up to 10 people in other places. In response to the resolution, SEDA began using online platforms to organize roundtable discussions and provide training for the 20 Community Development Councils (CDCs) established during January – March 2020 with SEDA support. Online training session topics included Community Mobilization, Needs Assessment, Leadership, and Community Funds. Prior to starting the online capacity building activities for CDCs, SEDA developed and posted instructions for CDC members on how to participate in online training and roundtables using Zoom and WhatsApp on the Community Development House (CDH) Facebook page (see www.facebook.com/cdhseda/notifications). SEDA recorded the online training sessions and posted them on the CDH Facebook page, so that CDCs and other can access and refer to them, as needed. By May 15, 2020, SEDA completed 95 training sessions. 753 people, including 322 women, 91 youth, and 14 municipality and local ExCom representatives, attended the training sessions and the roundtables.
EWMI SEDA staff has also prepared and posted on CDH’s Facebook page video presentations on various topics related to community development including: Gender Equality, Youth in Community Development, Agrotourism and Community, Public Private Partnership, Solid Waste Management, and E-government.
In Cambodia, the USAID-funded CCSS program is supporting grantees as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Fact-checking claims about COVID-19: Women’s Media Center of Cambodia (WMC) is fact-checking four stories on (1) ‘drinking more water kills the coronavirus,’ (2) ‘people with AB blood are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, whereas people with type O blood are less infected,’ (3) ‘old people are more likely to die than children if they are infected by coronavirus,’ and (4) ‘living close to a telephone antenna and using a cell phone affects your health.’
Youth volunteers help prevent COVID-19: On March 30, YCC youth groups joined local authorities in Sangkat Preaek Lieb in a series of public awareness events aimed at prevention among returning migrants in 3 communes (Beng, Kouk Mon and Batey Ampil) in Oddor Meanchey province. A total of 15 (6 females) people participated, including youth group members, district officials, commune councilors, health center officials and village chiefs.
Rapid Response Grants
In order to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in a timely manner, EWMI ACCESS promptly announced the Rapid Response Grants program for Georgian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), civil movements and citizen groups. The program deploys flexible resources to these groups to take civic action to minimize the spread of infection and address the crisis caused by the pandemic. Interested applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals according to detailed guidelines available HERE. Grants have already been awarded to several grantees. For example, Rapid Response Grantee Mirian Jugheli has built up a website cataloging different types of products and services available online in Georgia to ease adherence to the stay-at-home regulations. It also includes a section debunking disinformation about COVID-19 and pointing visitors to reliable information. Rapid Response Grantee Ajara Democratic Development Center launched its hotline for the Roma community living in the Ajara region to help inform them about the COVID-19 risks and prevention measures.
On May 21, ACCESS organized a live discussion on Facebook focusing on post-pandemic recovery and the government’s anti-crisis plan. The discussion featured representatives from leading Georgian think tanks (ISET Policy Institute, PMCG, EPRC) and addressed COVID-19’s impact on the economy, the government’s transparency and accountability as well as its response, and recommendations for the future.
EWMI ACCESS Partner, the Network of Centers for Civic Engagement (NCCE)
NCCE regional offices in ten different locations are organizing different on-line events/webinars/discussions/meetings on a daily basis to support their communities: webinars for school students on COVID-19 prevention measures; online discussions with school students, teachers, directors, and CSOs about the main problems faced by regional public schools with the introduction of online schooling; webinars titled COVID-19 Myths and Realities for local CSOs and civic activists to raise their awareness about the most widespread disinformation about the new virus and provide factual information; on-line discussion about the COVID-19-related threats and problems in the conflict zone villages; etc.
The NCCE also published a statement offering assistance to civil society organizations (CSOs) and government agencies in disseminating timely and credible information related to COVID-19 and related services/resources in regions. NCCE has a comprehensive and up-to-date database of nearly 15,000 people living in 10 regions of Georgia, disaggregated by different categories (e.g. farmers, teachers, entrepreneurs, the elderly, students, journalists). NCCE collected this data with the consent of its beneficiaries. Using the database, it will be able to reach those citizens who are left beyond the social networks. NCCE offers assistance in information distribution free of charge.
On May 22, NCCE launched a new initiative aimed at assisting citizens to receive unemployment benefits, agro-credits, tax reliefs and other forms of social assistance as outlined in the Georgian government anti-crisis plan. NCCE will collect questions from citizens and respond in detail with regard to eligibility and application requirements. NCCE centers in Akhaltsaikhe and Marneuli are assisting ethnic minority citizens to register and apply for said social benefits.
Coping with Stress
Acknowledging that the infection outbreak has caused fear, stress, anxiety and grief among many, EWMI ACCESS has teamed with the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) to prepare and share info-videos and other materials to a wider Georgian audience. Featuring prominent psychologist Maya Tsiramua, the videos aim to reduce anxiety, addressing specific methods to manage stress and fear. The videos are available HERE.
Distance Learning Courses for Civil Society Representatives
Distance learning courses’ popularity is increasing with social distancing measures in place. Therefore, EWMI ACCESS and the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) have re-opened admission to online learning courses in the following subjects: 1) Project Logic. 2) Roadmap for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). 3) Leadership at a Civil Society Organization (CSO). Each module is equipped with additional learning material and quizzes, and each module’s pace can be customized by the participant according to their personal needs. Participants earn a certificate after successfully completing the course tests.
EWMI ACCESS Public Policy and Accountability Grantee working on countering Russian and anti-western disinformation, StratCom Georgia, published a research article on Russia seizing the COVID-19 “opportunity” to strengthen anti-EU and NATO feelings and broadcast pro-Russian propaganda on social and state media. The article challenged Russia’s media coverage about the Russian anthem being played in the streets of Italy, EU flags being replaced with Russian flags, and other manipulations by Russian media outlets. StratCom Georgia also published a new research post to debunk a conspiracy theory linking 5G with COVID-19. This myth quickly gained traction on Georgian social media. StratCom Georgia prepared its post based on the New York Times article on this topic. StratCom Georgia published another post on its popular anti-propaganda Facebook page Information Defense Legion refuting a fake report that COVID-19 was created by an American scientist Charles Lieber, who then sold it to China.
For more information about EWMI ACCESS’s response in Georgia visit: www.ewmi-access.org
EMWI PROLoG developed a document highlighting how US and EU courts are dealing with management of the justice sector during the crisis, and shared it with the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) and Georgian courts. The program also recommended that the HCOJ organize a task force of justice institutions to coordinate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other task force members include representatives from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Supreme Court, the Prosecutors Office, the Legal Aid Service (LAS), and the Georgian Bar Association (GBA). In light of new social distancing rules, PROLoG assisted Georgia’s judicial training institute, the High School of Justice (HSOJ) increase its capacity to conduct online/distance trainings, workshops.
Support to the PDO, LAS and GBA:
EWMI PROLoG provided technical assistance to Legal Aid Service (LAS) to conduct their meetings, trainings and workshops in online/distance format and is engaging an international expert to provide online technical assistance and training to the Ombudsman’s Office (Public Defenders Office, or PDO). Read more about PROLoG's technical assistance HERE.
Access to Justice and NGO support:
EMWI PROLoG is organizing online W-Talks (women talks) with leading women judges and NGOs leaders to discuss gender equality, in some cases reaching audiences of over 20,000. To learn more about W-Talks, click HERE. EWMI PROLoG is also providing support for online discussion/working meetings for the Coalition for a Transparent and Independent Judiciary and individual NGO. EMWI PROLoG has also implemented a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants program to rapidly deploy resources to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in Georgia, and ensure the rule of law and access to quality legal education and services. Grants have already been awarded to the Legal Aid Service and the Georigian Bar Association, read more HERE.
For more information about EMWI PROLoG’s response in Georgia, please visit: http://ewmi-prolog.org/en/home.
As the Lower Mekong countries prepare to combat COVID-19, they face enormous challenges due to poor leadership, weak institutions and wide public mistrust that undermines progress towards democracy. The Open Development Mekong network, part of East-West Management Institute’s Open Development Initiative, is working towards distributing open datasets that help to provide reliable data and information to citizens. This has included the publication of data in Cambodia and Vietnam visualized in our interactive map explorer, which highlights hotspot areas at the provincial level. Additionally, Open Development Mekong is tracking and recording emergency laws and regulations that have been enacted as a response to COVID-19. These datasets and regulations, among other resources, can be found in our datahub.
In a newly published article, COVID-19 in the Mekong Region, Open Development Mekong explores how vulnerable groups in the Mekong Region are being impact by the COVID-19 pandemic and response measures implemented to try to combat it. The article specifically explores how a focus on counting cases and individuals excludes groups that are typically uncounted, such as indigenous and ethnic minorities, refugees and internally displaced peoples, migrants, urban slum-dwellers, and people working in the formal sector. Missing the experiences and needs of these groups will exacerbate existing inequalities. Open Development Mekong will use a rights-based development perspective to examine the pandemic’s intersectional impacts in the Lower Mekong Countries (LMC). They will explore how open data platforms like those of Open Development Initiative (ODI) and civic tech might provide better solutions.
CEP is using its Facebook Page to help promote health safety measures. CEP COP, Goran Lazarevski has posted a video challenging North Macedonians to help #FlattenTheCurve. To learn more about how CEP is responding to the pandemic, please visit: www.cep.mk and https://www.facebook.com/CEPNorthMacedonia/.