• COVID-19 Conflict Sensitive Considerations

    • Introduction

      The current COVID 19 global crisis is immense in scale and scope, yet the full implications of its impact are still to be understood.  This site is a free resource for organisations (both local and global) that seek to explore how COVID 19 may affect the way we work, so that we can Do No Harm, Do Some Good, and if possible contribute to sustainable Peace. Kindly note that this resource, including the guidance on religious actors, has been developed for the ACT Alliance in collaboration with DCA, NCA and the ACT Reference Group on Peace & Human Security. 

      Should you have any further queries about this site please email Sunra Lambert-Baj and Nishant Lawrance

      • Key Conflict Sensitivity Considerations

        Conflict Sensitivity is grounded in analysis with the purpose of informing strategic planning and programming. If you don’t have time to conduct analysis, you could instead, either in a small group (e.g. online, using distancing measures) or individually, consider the following Conflict Sensitive Core Questions.

        1. How has COVID 19 impacted the context you work in?

          (For example, consider political, economic, safety considerations as well as humanitarian access, movement restrictions/lockdowns, quarantines).

        2. How has COVID 19 impacted on the roles, coping strategies and movement patterns of vulnerable communities ?  

          (For example, consider age, gender, diversity approach as well as IDPs, refugees, other minority social groupings).

        3. Has COVID 19 led to an increase in violent conflict and/or tensions? If so, how?

          (For example, consider intra/inter communal conflict, GBV, confrontations between armed actors, human rights violations).

        4. How has COVID-19 impacted your activities?

          (For example, consider availability of communities, staff & partner motivation levels, levels of community trust, public perceptions, restrictions imposed by authorities, states of emergency).

        5. Which activities can continue safely and what activities need to be adapted to Do No Harm in the current context?

          (For example, consider if existing activities could spread coronavirus. Contemplate changes to all activities which involve physical contact such as outreach, assessments, community engagement initiatives, messaging, trainings/workshops, meetings, community perceptions of NGO activities, immediate community needs, rising tensions, anti-foreigner rhetoric, blaming of social groups of contamination).

        6. What local opportunities are present that could Do Some Good and Support Sustainable Peace? How can these opportunities be maximised?

           (For example, consider identifying connectors, role of faith actors, accurate & trusted messaging channels, points for community collaboration, coordination mechanisms, local ceasefires/truces, ability to safely support community engagement with duty bearers).

        • Why is conflict sensitivity important in the current COVID 19 context?

          Crisis situations, such as the current coronavirus we are experiencing, can understandably trigger a high demand for rapid response and immediate assistance. However, the possibility of substantial harm increases when interventions fail to identify and address the detrimental effects of otherwise well-intended actions. So, what can we do?

          We could attempt to tip-toe around the coronavirus and hope to avoid it.

          We could pretend that the coronavirus does not exist and… hope for the best.  But neither of these options actively addresses the reality of working in a corona-affected setting. One alternative entails conflict sensitivity.

          But, what does conflict sensitivity mean?

          • What is Conflict Sensitivity?

             Conflict Sensitivity is based on the premise that the provision of assistance/resources is not always considered neutral especially when applied to areas affected by violent conflict or with high social tensions. The possibility of substantial harm increases when interventions fail to identify and address the detrimental effects of otherwise well-intended actions. Conflict Sensitivity seeks to increase effectiveness by guiding the provision of resources in crisis situations, especially those affected by conflict. It does this by identifying opportunities to improve assistance, as well as highlighting unintended consequences that may contribute to violence. It uses this information to act to ‘Do No Harm’, 'Do Some Good', and where possible promote sustainable peace.

            For more information about Conflict Sensitivity and Do No harm click here

            • How can we be more Conflict Sensitive?

              Conflict Sensitivity is grounded in analysis with the purpose of informing strategic planning and programming. Analysis should ideally include a wide range of inputs to be valuable, which means it should be context-specific and people centred. Ideally it should include gender, age and diversity dimensions as well as involve a wide range of social groupings relevant to a given context (e.g. cultural, ethnic, religious minorities). However, recognising that due to COVID-19 it might not be possible to consult a wide range of stakeholders. As an alternative rapid conflict sensitive analysis can be conducted either individually or in small online groups, depending on safety, time and availability. Regular review of your analysis should be considered to ensure it accurately reflects changes in the local context. If feasible try regularly to explore means to safely obtain wider input.

              • Do a COVID 19 Rapid Conflict Sensitive Analysis

                Do a Rapid Conflict Sensitive Analysis to inform and guide current programming.

                The current crisis is global in scope and the implications are immense. From a programmatic perspective how does corona affect the work we do? We may not have time to conduct full assessment, but a rapid analysis may be possible.

                Download COVID 19  Rapid Conflict Sensitive Analysis Tool

              • Hold a COVID 19 conflict sensitive scenario planning session

                Hold a conflict sensitive scenario planning session to strategically prepare for possible future programmatic outcomes

                In a group, consider developing in specific scenarios, at least three.

                This should contemplate at least 1 negative scenario, 1 status quo scenario, and 1 positive scenario. 5-6 scenarios would provide a better coverage of possibilities and likelihoods.

                The purpose of scenario planning would be to prepare your country office programmes and activities for several eventualities. This preparation then could help respond to several upcoming situations, enabling you to fine tune your activities and adjust them according to the conditions.

                It must be stressed that the conflict sensitive scenario planning suggested here is not the same as security provisions that may already be undertaken. This scenario planning would instead be focused on the future survival and success of country office programmes and activities.

                Download the conflict sensitive scenario planning tool below for more information.

                • Exchange Ideas - Share solutions - Build Knowledge

                  Exchange Ideas, solutions & knowledge with others. The below link provides access to a resource hub providing tools, guidance, and data on a number of Peace & Human Security related themes including COVID-19, Conflict Sensitivity, Faith Actors, Peacebuilding, GBV, Civic Space & Governance. The hub also includes a forum for users to post questions and directly exchange ideas.

                • Work with Faith Actors

                  Religious Actors and COVID 19 suggestions

                  In addition to the medical and material response, communities’ beliefs and attitudes need to be mobilized to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its impact. Religious actors’ status, trust and wide networks can be factors of further danger, or positive change. In times of crisis, we can, in contexts where this is possible, step-up its work with religious actors, enabling them to:

                  • Support effective dissemination of messages by health authorities (hand hygiene, physical distancing, etc.).
                  • Counter misconceptions, stigma, scapegoating, fake news and other dangerous ideas within their communities.

                  • Take the lead in providing safe alternatives to important religious rituals and regular worship services, which are in line with the advice and measures from health authorities.

                  • Promote unity, solidarity and humanity in times of hardship. Work to reduce tensions between different interest groups and towards potentially discriminated groups.

                  • Advocate for the needs of the most vulnerable in these times of crisis. Societies at large will feel the economic consequences of lockdowns and quarantines but certain groups (e.g. daily wage laborers, informal traders) are most vulnerable to them. The same measures can also lead to an increase in gender-based violence and child abuse.

                  • Help community members find solace and purpose in times of great distress. Crisis are stressful situations that create anxiety and fear. Religion and spirituality are important for the mental health of people of faith.

                  • Ensure religious health facilities, schools and other diaconal structures follow national COVID-19 guidelines, and when possible provide relevant services to combat the pandemic.

                   How can we encourage religious actors to take effective action?

                  Many religious actors belong to global or regional fellowships of belief, and are guided by statements from these bodies during times of crisis and uncertainty. We can work with faith actors to on public statements. Some key statements are provided here:

                  We can also encourage faith partners to take action by:

                  1 Informing themselves, having accurate and updated information from health authorities. It is a precondition for religious actors to know what the advice from health authorities is and to embrace it. Male and female religious actors can then spread the message, through their congregations but also among their peers who might not yet be aware of the health advice and how to combine it with their religious faith.

                  2. Using references to holy texts and appropriate contextualized theology to raise awareness and promote social behaviors that protect people and communities from harm. Health advice can resonate better within religious communities when it is linked to their own faith and beliefs and builds on strong theological foundations.

                  Assess religious practices that are affected by physical distancing and finding suitable alternative ways to perform those rituals. (culturally sanctioned alternatives to handshaking as a way of greeting; concerns about inability to access religious sites, including practices of kissing holy symbols; baptisms, weddings, confessions, funerals and burials, postponing giving of the Eucharist in churches, religious practice during festivities, etc.)

                  1. Emphasize the value of togetherness and human dignity in times of crisis, with references to praxis and theology within their own religions, and by joining forces with religious actors from other faiths (in join statements or media initiatives, for example) and with other actors such as the youth, and secular civil society.

                  2. Utilizing existing intergenerational, intra- and inter-faith platforms at national and international levels, sharing practices and learning from other religious communities and male and female religious actors. Even though each context is different, congregations around the world are facing similar challenges and finding ways to overcome them.

                  3. Speak out on behalf of the marginalized and advocate for leaving no one behind in this collective response to the crisis and its long-term effects. Religious actors can continue to partner with secular civil society to monitoring that government responses to the crisis, to ensure that they do not undermine human rights and democratic governance.

                  4. Reaching out to armed opposition groups and populations in non-government controlled areas. In some contexts, religious actors can facilitate ceasefires and humanitarian access for health officials to opposition-controlled areas.

                  5. Use local capacities and established institutions (such as schools, hospitals and clinics) to provide material and spiritual support for communities affected by COVID-19 (health, education, food, shelter, etc.). This can be put to the service of communities at large in coordination   with  authorities  as  appropriate, practicing solidarity across faiths and thus strengthening social bonds.

                  1. Mobilise volunteer action within their communities to care for the most vulnerable. Solidarity circles of volunteers can channel individuals’ desire to help in times of crisis and provide material and spiritual support to other women, girls, men and boys.

                  2. Create emergency funds and collect donations and voluntary contributions to help those most severely affected by COVID-19 and related measures.

                  Adapted communications channels

                  Existing faith-owned print media, radio and television channels could disseminate information to allay fears in the country and create awareness. Many religious institutions have also moved to social media and use platforms like Youtube and Facebook. These same channels could be used for community outreach. Religious communities who do not have these possibilities should be supported or can enter into partnerships with, for example, youth organizations, to increase their use of these means. Faith women groups and female religious actors have a key role to play, also in relation to communication. Religious actors should collaborate with the Ministry of Health officials to ensure information is accurate information.

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