Accountability Counsel’s COVID-19 Response and Leadership
As partners with communities seeking remedy for human rights and environmental harms caused by internationally financed projects, we are seeing firsthand both the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable communities and the increased risks many now face due to past harm by international financial flows. Now, more than ever, we must continue advocating alongside communities whose lives and health are immediately at stake. Here is our response:
Keeping fast-tracked aid accountable:
- Billions in fast-tracked COVID-19 response funds are being released. More is planned. This money needs to reach those in need in a way that protects their rights and supports their livelihoods
- We have seen the harm international finance can cause, particularly disaster response funds, long before this pandemic struck.
- Our Policy team is hard at work advocating for transparency and accountability of financial institutions’ crisis response plans to ensure this money hits its mark and serves our most vulnerable communities. Stay tuned for more information coming soon about our new coalition-based campaign.
- Examples of coalition-based initiatives that we are supporting include:
- ICAR’s “Building a rights-based response to COVID-19”
- Coalition for Human Rights in Development’s initiative on human rights and development finance institutions’ response to COVID-19
- HRW’s joint letter to the IFC requesting information and providing recommendations for worker protections in response to COVID-19
COMMUNITY FEEDBACK TOOLS
Communities need tools to give direct and valuable feedback to those directing COVID-19 funds:
- Our Research team has developed Zwazo, a messaging system we originally created and used for community consultation in our casework in Haiti.
- We have adapted it to allow for community input in current COVID-19 response efforts. This tool has already been shared with civil society groups in the Bay Area to allow for remote consultation and to connect communities needing basic services, including grocery delivery, to social services and mutual aid networks.
- We are sharing Zwazo more widely to help vulnerable groups communicate their urgent needs, consult on solutions, and be heard.
- We’re doubling down on our work to share information to prevent harm from international financial flows. It’s urgent that investors have all the information needed to make good decisions. Our database, the Accountability Console, details every community complaint ever filed regarding harm from internationally financed projects. It can serve as a particularly powerful tool for investors to ensure their COVID-19 response funding does not repeat known problems.
ELEVATING VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES
Communities who are the most vulnerable need to be at the front of COVID-19 support:
- Our community case clients are among the most vulnerable populations, and are facing increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 precisely because of past harm by international financial flows. Our client community of tea workers on plantations co-owned by the IFC in Assam, India is illustrative of this – workers do not have access to basic sanitation, housing, or food security, and are acutely vulnerable to coronavirus. Our Communities team is advocating to ensure communities like these are among the beneficiaries of COVID-19 response funding.
Read more about Accountability Counsel’s work supporting vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 crisis:
Please donate here to join us as an ally in advancing accountability in this critical moment. We deeply appreciate your support that makes our work possible.