The impact of Covid 19 on Non Governmental Organisations in Africa

Category : COVID19 PANDEMIC IN AFRICA | Sub Category : IMPACT OF COVID 19 ON NGOs Posted on 2020-12-10 11:42:41

The impact of Covid 19 on Non Governmental Organisations in Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020. While Africa still accounts for relatively few deaths, the numbers are rising. Governments in Africa and elsewhere have instituted wide-ranging measures to curb the spread of the disease including travel restrictions, night-time curfews, the banning of large gatherings and social distancing. These measures had swift and dramatic social and economic consequences for all sectors of society, including Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

NGOs have a long tradition of performing important developmental, humanitarian and advocacy functions across Africa, often under challenging conditions. As a result, there can’t be any effective response to COVID-19 without the involvement of NGOs. However, at a time when their contributions are more critical than ever, they are also confronted with the negative impact of the COVID19 pandemic on their operations and sustainability.

Below are highlights of the negative impact of the pandemic on the funding and operations of NGOs you to help you get and understanding how NGOs are coping and responding to the challenges. 

You will also get the highlight on the NGOs involvement in national response to the COVID19 pandemic. 

We shall also highlight the emerging opportunities from the crisis and the lesson learned. 

Overall Impact

COVID19 has impacted and disrupted 98% of the NGOs operations in one or more ways. 

Loss of Funding

56.69% of the NGOs have already experience a loss of funding while 66.46% of NGOs expect to lose funding in the next 3-6 months.


84.44% of NGOs were not prepared to cope with the disruption caused by COVID19 to their operations. 

Cost-cutting measures 

49.87% of NGOs have introduced measures to reduce costs because of the loss of funding, or the uncertainty about funding. 


77.97% of NGOs believe that COVID19 have devastating impact on the sustainability of many NGOs. 

Canceled or reduced operations

69.34% have reduced or canceled their operations, while 54.94% of NGOs expect this to continue in the next 3-6months. 

Movement of Staff

73.97% of NGOs staff were faced with restricted movement and 79.35% experienced reduced face-to-face community interactions. 

Working from Home

84..48% of NGOs impelemented work from home arrangements, 75.36% of NGOs had no arrangements in place before COVID19, 71.40% of NGOs consider their organisation making work from home a part of their operations post COVID19


68.08% of NGOs believe that COVID19 would result in great public appreciation for the work of NGOs while 71.58% of NGOs note that governments have failed to recognize and utilize local NGOs skills experience and networks in response to COVID19


45.06% of NGOs believe that NGOs will emerge stronger and more agile after the COVID19 pandemic

Involvement in the response to COVID19

84.77% of NGOs introduced new program activities due to COVD19 with 71.94% of NGOs self-funding these activities. 77.22% of NGOs show that local NGOs were playing a critical role in the national response to COVID19. 85.47% of NGOs show that they could have done more if capacity of funding constraints were not a barrier.


The overall immediate impact of the COVID19 pandemic was swift, widespread and destabilizing. 98% of NGOs have been affected in one or more ways. Only 2% report minimal or no impact at all. Most NGOs (84.48%) acknowledge that they were overwhelmingly unprepared to cope with the disruption caused by COVID-19. The impact was felt most acutely through changes in funding, funding, operations and program activities. 

Other immediate effects that NGOs experienced include a reduced number of stuff members, increased workloads, increased uncertainty about the future and dealing with compounding issues such as increased domestic violence.


The financial health of NGOs in Africa was tenuous even before the COVID-19 crisis. With almost 50% having an average annual budget of under US$100,000, the loss of funding could have devastating consequences.

55.69% of NGOs experienced a loss in funding, while 34.92% posted rising costs. Only 34.37% of NGOs have any reserves, and of those, 60.83% NGOs indicate that they plan to tap into their reserves to see them through the crisis. In addition, 46.18% of NGOs report that some of their funders informed them that COVID-19 might impact their ability to continue supporting them. Most concerning, 77.97% of NGOs feel that COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on the sustainability of many NGOs.


The most visible and dramatic impact was felt across operations and programs. As countries across the continent imposed measures such as national lockdowns to restrict the movement of people and curb infections, NGOs experienced several operational difficulties.

73.97% of NGOs experienced restrictions in the movement of staff, while 79.35% of NGOs experienced reduced face-to-face interactions with the communities they serve. As a result, 69.34% of NGOs had to reduce or cancel operations, even as 31.54% reported increased demand for their services.

3.63% of of NGOs report one or more of their staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

African NGOs are finding ways to mitigate the existential threats imposed by COVID-19.  However, they have also experienced specific challenges with some of the solutions.


The impact of COVID-19 resulted in 64.96% of NGOs introduced new ways of conducting work. 67.83% indicate that COVID-19 forced their staff to “work from home”. As a result, 84.48% of NGOs implemented work-from-home arrangements, although 75.36% of NGOs didn’t have such arrangements in place before COVID-19.

Working from home provides NGOs with a mechanism to continue at least some of their operations. However, most respondents were not adequately prepared for the sudden transition to this new way of conducting work. 23.08% of NGOs were not prepared at all, while 59.34% of the NGOs were only somewhat prepared.


While many NGOs in Africa were overwhelmed by the immediate impact of COVID-19 on their operations and will struggle to recover or even survive, they remained surprisingly optimistic about the future. 45.06% of NGOS feel that the pandemic would give rise to a more robust and agile sector. Only time will tell if this optimism results in tangible change, but it demonstrates the resilience and adaptability at the core of many NGOs in Africa.  

Based on how NGOs respond to COVID-19, several opportunities are emerging that could begin to shape the way the sector operates in future:-

Re-orienting the operations

Leveraging domestic funding sources

Accelerating digital transformation 

Shifting power relations

Strengthened advocacy

Reinforcing relevance and credibility 

Building sector solidarity and

Improving visibility


It is still too early to comprehend the full impact of COVID19 on NGOs in Africa. The pandemic is still spreading, and its implications for the sector will continue to evolve. Ultimately, the impact will be long-lasting as COVID19 has exacerbated historical and ongoing challenges that hamper the sector. If left unattended, a significant number of NGOs will close down, people working in the sector will lose their jobs, and the various constituencies that depend on NGOs’ services and advocacy interventions will suffer the consequences.

Without losing sight of the long-term, the following actions are required to assist NGOs to manage and overcome the immediate impact of COVID-19:

For Funders 

Provide additional and unrestricted

funding through your internal mechanisms, and work with others in creating pooled funding mechanisms for NGOs

Support the digital transformation of NGOs through strategic investments in their technology infrastructure, from paying for laptops, connectivity and cloud services to staff training.

Use your influence to advocate for the inclusion of NGOs in governments’ national emergency funding mechanisms, similar to the sup-port provided to the private sector.

Fund African NGOs directly. In the absence of international NGOs that frequently dominate disaster relief on the continent, direct more Africa designated resources to local NGOs.

For NGOs

Organize  and  connect  with  other NGOs and stakeholders to advocate for inclusion in national government responses to COVID-19 and emergency funding mechanisms.

Maximize your online presence and crowd funding platforms to create awareness about your work, solicit donations and recruit volunteers.

For Governments

Support NGOs operations and COVID19 activities through national emergency funding mechanisms. 

Leverage NGOs experience and expertise in planning, coordinating and Implementing national responses to COVID19. 

Communicate with your funders about your funding situation and requirements.

Reflect on the future of your organization  and  start  re imagining  your

Organizational strategies for the post-COVID-19 period

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