Reimagined Resources and Relationships

How has the pandemic reshaped our world and our work? The answer is certainly complex. In the last year, Global Integrity has adapted to changes prompted by COVID-19 by both pivoting its existing programs and developing new initiatives. In 2020, we focused on sharing, learning, and supporting our team and our partners at the onset of the lockdowns, carefully thinking through our response and realigning priorities, resources, and plans, especially ones related to governance and health systems.

Soon after, we checked in with 70 partners (including nearly 50 members of our D.C.-based Open Gov Hub). We listened to how they are tackling challenges across operations, programs, and strategies in innovative ways to emerge from this crisis with greater resilience. To support this work we have curated 800+ resources on COVID-19, fiscal governance, and anti-corruption. Similarly, we are determining how to pivot our existing projects to effectively address COVID-19's implications.

In 2021 we worked closely with our CTAP partner organizations to conduct research on public service delivery, build local coalitions aimed at identifying and preventing corruption, and strengthen the capacity of our grassroots partners and civic organizations.

See what we have done differently below.

Account4COVID is composed of eight partner organizations that work in the anti-corruption space: Global Integrity, Accountability Lab, African Freedom Information Center, AfroLeadership, BudgIT, CODE / Follow The Money Africa, and the Public Service Accountability Monitor. A collaborative initiative, its main goal is to advocate for greater accountability, transparency, and civic inclusion for how COVID-19 funds are spent. 

You can find members of the Account4COVID team in conversation with various frontline actors and civil society activists in our ongoing webinar series. Dialogues on overcoming COVID 19 vaccine hesitancy and misinformation in Africa, tracking COVID-19 funds at the 2021 CTAP conference and reflections on equity & social justice of the COVID-19 vaccine in Africa can be found on our YouTube page.

Read about insights gleaned from the third Account4COVID webinar that shed light on the socio-economic urgency imposed by COVID-19 surrounding vulnerable groups.

Our database is a repository of 800+ resources (publications, webinars, etc.) curated by GI staff. The sources of information mainly come from governance reform actors, thought leaders, and donor partners. The database collates relevant resources on pandemic-related fiscal governance in one place to make it easy for people to use existing resources to inform programmatic decisions, as well as identify fillable gaps in the current COVID-19 vaccine distribution and response and recovery efforts.

The database is available via Airtable and organized by tags, including type (“blog”) and technical area (“corruption”), and region. It will be updated in a systematic way, including partners’ newsletters and multi-stakeholder forums.

With the goal of facilitating a knowledge exchange on vaccine distribution in Africa through the COVID Transparency Accountability Participation (CTAP) project and the Account4COVID initiative, these projects have developed two important resources to meet the inequitable vaccine deployment response in Africa. The hope is that this list of references and set of advocacy questions on COVID-19 vaccine transparency & accountability and COVID-19 vaccine equity provide some guiding questions to help citizens and civic actors more effectively advocate for government gaps and weaknesses in the vaccine distribution plan.

Our partners on the Central African Coalition Against Kleptocracy coalition have shared four stories of how Cameroon, Chad, Congo and Equatorial Guinea have responded to the pandemic.

Decades of looting have left these countries with weak state institutions and limited access to basic services, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic and impacted vulnerable populations.

The stories also show how nepotism in appointing officials to government agencies has meant technical experts are left out when designing policy responses to support the ailing population. Instead the ruling elites have taken advantage of the health crisis to profit themselves. 

Normally, the Hub is a dynamic meeting place in the physical sense -- but also a community in the abstract sense of having shared common open gov values. The Hub had to pause all in-person operations (coworking and meetings and events), and subsequently the 3-person Hub team did 1:1 calls with nearly 50 members in April to figure out how we can best support members facing new challenges and continue to offer resources and support online. The Hub team also is facilitating peer learning conversations between the largest-ever cohort of 13 Global Affiliate Hubs on how they can all adapt to new COVID-19 challenges to their business and social impact models.

The Hub team launched COVID-specific and other virtual events, a new blog series, and member page featuring members’ COVID-19 responses (see the Hub’s COVID-19 response page for more). The Hub had also recently published a detailed “Back to Office” Reopening Plan for members, and has undertaken numerous health and safety measures to keep members safe in the long-term and as the space gradually reopens.

The Hub launched two online trainings this summer – (1) a retreat for the Global Hubs and (2) an online course in partnership with Columbia University to train members on how to run their own impactful virtual workshops, in tandem with a publication of a how-to guide on this topic. This is in direct response to the #1 articulated need from our check-in calls with members. 

Learn more about the improved Open Gov Hub space:

GI-ACE researchers and partners have been studying the impact of COVID-19 on anti-corruption efforts to accurately pivot ongoing projects. Through this process we have new outputs, in the form of research initiatives and blog thought pieces, on anti-corruption in the time of COVID-19 disruption.

Emerging research and reflections from some of our GI-ACE contributors include (1) Corruption in the Tanzanian Health Sector by Claudia Baez Camargo, (The Basel Institute of Governance); (2) COVID-19 Impacts Cross Border Traders in East Africa Jacqueline Klopp (Columbia University); (3) Ongoing research on anti-corruption measures and health outcomes – including transparency regarding the use of public resources and the impact on public trust in the context of COVID-19 (Mark Buntaine, UCLA).

In 2020 we joined COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP), an initiative with partners BudgIT Foundation and Connected Development (CODE) that is committed to promoting accountability and transparency through the tracking of COVID-19 intervention funds across seven African countries. The ravaging effect COVID-19 has had across federal and state levels, and the release of emergency funds in the form of domestic and foreign donations in cash and in-kind, accentuates an upcoming challenge with most African countries: how to shine a light on the lack of transparent and accountable systems to respond effectively to the emergency and minimize risks for corruption and mismanagement?

In the spring of 2020, country level partners held press conferences announcing the official start of the project’s implementation, including Follow the Money Liberia, the official project launch in Kenya, and Actions for Development and Empowerment (ADE) officially launching their CTAP project in Yaounde, Cameroon.

CTAP launched its official website in July 2021 at a live event in Abuja, Nigeria. The event was widely covered by media outlets across various African countries such as Legit, The Guardian Nigeria, and Radio Nigeria among others.

We put together a five-blog series in order to share emerging results and reflections from the application of these approaches in seven very different contexts. We obtained these lessons from continuous monitoring and reflection sessions with partners in each country and peer learning sessions that help our partners share experiences.

In late March, we wrote about Adapting to COVID-19: Sharing, learning, and supporting. 

To get a better picture of the effect of COVID in our work and that of our partners, we launched a comprehensive outreach process, to make sure the needs of our partners and allies across the world were front and center in shaping our own adaptations to COVID-19.

We explored Côte d’Ivoire and COVID-19: how a political crisis can jeopardize an effective pandemic response.

GI-ACE researcher Jaqueline Klopp analyzed the impact of the pandemic on cross-border traders in East Africa.

After the first webinar, the Account4COVID team shared their insights.

In July, we published a blog on modeling adaptive responses. This piece picks up on the debate about COVID-19 models to initiate some exploration around the value and limits of dynamic modeling in informing the design and implementation of policies to address complex governance-related challenges.

Towards the end of July 2020, our colleagues Nada Zohdy and Abigail Bellows explored the potential of COVID-19 being a catalyst for civic collaborations. 

As part of a peer learning exchange funded by the Open Society Foundation, the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Global Integrity (GI) and Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) have been sharing lessons and reflections about the processes and challenges of adapting to COVID-19.