In response to COVID-19, FCM’s international projects faced an unprecedent disruption to their activities. Virtually overnight, all technical assistance missions were postponed or cancelled, and all projects transitioned to virtual technical assistance for regular program activities.
An important focus for projects in the first weeks and months following was the creation of educational material regarding COVID-19, provision of hygiene equipment, support for partners to acquire and use technology, applying a gender lens to COVID impacts and response, and the shift to providing virtual technical assistance.
In the coming months, we will continue to work to provide technical assistance to project partners, such as working on economic recovery projects, providing services to vulnerable populations, and supporting intergovernmental coordination.
This page will be updated consistently to reflect the latest develops in the local government response to COVID-19 from FCM’s international programs.
Last updated: June 8, 2020.
These are truly unprecedented times for each of us personally but also as a municipal sector. Over the last few months, we have seen firsthand the struggles of our sector who have continued to stand to respond to the needs of citizens around the world. Our programs are no exception to standing up to the challenge.
– Garth Frizzell, FCM First Vice-President
Very strict measures are in place in Bolivia to limit the movement of people to help control the spread of cases. The Partnerships for Municipal Innovation - Local Economic Development (PMI-LED) program’s municipal partners, Vinto, Montero and Pailón, are in total lockdown. In response to the needs of its Bolivian partners, PMI-LED Bolivia launched a call for initiatives to support their fight against the spread of the virus. The objective of these initiatives will be to support local government in providing emergency response services and to help build local government capacity to facilitate intergovernmental and multisectoral coordination during crisis management.
In the meantime, PMI-LED Bolivia will help those three local governments to implement the emergency response provisions set forth by the national government. Support activities will likely be beginning in June 2020.
In Burkina Faso, the Partnerships for Municipal Innovation - Local Economic Development (PMI-LED) program conducted an assessment to identify priority needs at the local government association and partner municipalities (Bama, Manga, Banfora and Bobo-Dioulasso), as well as the economic impacts of COVID-19 over these communities. Working with the Association des Municipalités du Burkina Faso the program is currently exploring concrete proposals to support them to take a leadership role in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 in member municipalities. Implementation will likely begin in early June.
In Cambodia, the COVID-19 response assessment revealed deeper impacts economically rather than on health and safety in the four communities in which FCM works (Battambang, Poipet, Mongkul Borie and Serei Saophoan). Municipal staff cannot work from home, due to lack of equipment and poor broadband infrastructure, meaning local governments have not been able to provide ongoing services. The Partnerships for Municipal Innovation - Local Economic Development (PMI-LED) program is working with their implementing partners, the National League of Communes (NLC), to provide assistance to the local governments through the COVID-19 Immediate Response Initiative funding mechanism, so they can deliver information to the public about the safety and disease prevention.
In Cote d’Ivoire, the Partnerships for Municipal Innovation - Local Economic Development (PMI-LED) program is working in partnership with the Union des Villes et Communes de Côte d'Ivoire to identify the best strategies to respond to the most pressing needs of partner municipalities (Korhogo and Ferkessédougou) to deal with the pandemic. Actions should begin in June and will focus on improving local government and LGA communications and the provision of protective equipment for municipal employees and LGA staff. In addition, Canadian partner MRC d’Argenteuil has been sharing good communication practices related to the management of the COVID crisis that have proven to be useful for local partners.
The Partnerships for Municipal Innovation - Local Economic Development (PMI-LED) program is currently working with the Association des municipalités du Mali on the development of an immediate response initiative funding mechanism, that will help strengthen the decentralization of services in the fight against COVID-19 to local governments, including to partner municipalities in the Sikasso region. Financial support for strategic communications addressed to elected officials at the local government level, so they can deliver information to the public about the safety and disease prevention. The provision of protective equipment for municipal employees should begin in June.
Despite concluding its activities in late March, the Haiti-Canada Municipal Cooperation Program – Phase 2 (PCM2) allocated funds to help its municipal partners respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
In the Les Palmes region, the support provided by PCM2 was organized in such a way as to take into account both the World Health Organization’s communiqué calling for hand-washing with soap and the presidential communiqué declaring the wearing of masks mandatory in all public places starting May 11.
PCM2 facilitated the purchase of the equipment needed to install hand washing stations (soap and water) in local markets in the communes of Petit Goâve, Grand Goâve, Léogâne and Gressier. At the same time, a public awareness campaign will be launched on the importance of preventing the spread of the virus. The mayors of the Les Palmes region will work with their respective municipalities’ citizens’ committees and with women’s organization La Coordination des femmes de la région des Palmes (KOFAREP) to get the information out.
PCM2 support will also make it possible to provide commune staff with masks to be distributed by the Community of Les Palmes Region Municipalities and the Administrative and Technical Department of the Les Palmes Region’s Communes (CMRP-DATIP).
Support provided to Port-au-Prince City Hall is intended to help it fulfil its duties with respect to the eight public schools in its jurisdiction. These schools accommodate 5,000 schoolchildren, most from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In this time of crisis and tenuous food security, City Hall has kept school canteens open despite closing the schools themselves, to continue providing children with a hot meal, which for some is their only meal of the day. To facilitate access to food for the most vulnerable people and to foster compliance with containment measures, City Hall, with the help of PCM2, will distribute food baskets to families of disadvantaged pupils. These baskets include 5.7 kg of rice, 2.7 kg of peas, 2.7 kg of corn meal, one 500 ml can of oil, two packs of spaghetti and two cans of sardines. The food will be distributed by Port-au-Prince City Hall.
The Jordan Municipal Support Project (JMSP) helps Jordan’s local governments deliver municipal services more effectively through improved local governance, municipal services, and solid waste management. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the health and safety of municipal workers was paramount, as was supporting partner municipalities with their crisis response. In addition to crisis management guidance materials, JMSP has helped procure crucial protective equipment that will help keep municipal employees safe as they deliver key public services.
Personal protective equipment is essential for the health and safety of municipal workers, especially those who work in solid waste management. At the outset of the crisis, JMSP helped partner municipalities purchase personal protective equipment, such as masks, uniforms, hand sanitizers, and gloves, for the municipal workers in Jordan.
JMSP also helped the Ministry of Local Administration and partner municipalities to share with municipal staff and community members information on health and safety measures. They teamed up with a famous Jordanian cartoonist to create a series of messages addressing issues related to sanitization of public spaces, waste disposal, and more.
In partnership with South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Building Inclusive Green Municipalities (BIGM) program works in six municipalities of Eastern Cape Province. South African municipal staff are receiving technical assistance from their Canadian partners to strengthen their ability to render better municipal services that target the reduction of poverty, support local economic growth, adopt sound asset management practices and respond to climate change issues.
Nationally, the municipalities of Eastern Cape are among the most impacted communities by COVID-19. Based on the results of the COVID-19 impact assessment, the BIGM municipal partners have devised an action plan focusing their response efforts on several key areas. As BIGM works in predominantly remote and rural municipalities, the lack of equipment coupled with weak broadband infrastructure have been identified as the main reason impeding staff’s ability to work from home. The BIGM project is working to procure necessary equipment and tools to ensure reliable internet connectivity for local municipal partners.
The high density of formal and informal settlements surrounding urban areas in Eastern Cape means that the timely dissemination of information is critical in preventing the virus spread. In partnership with SALGA, the BIGM project team is assisting local South African municipalities with the development and dissemination of social and online messages on COVID-19 prevention strategies. In addition, with project’s assistance, the municipalities will be able to procure necessary hygiene and sanitation products.
To ensure the project’s continuity and assist municipal partners in their economic recovery efforts in the post-COVID reality, BIGM is developing a roster of online training resources. As the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women, a special consideration will given to the development of gender-sensitive training materials.
Concurrently with these efforts, throughout the quarantine measures and the country-wide lockdown in South Africa, project partners have been sharing best practices in emergency communications, preparedness and response.
In Tunisia, the Inclusive Municipal Leadership Program (PLMI), co-implemented by CILG-VNG International and FCM, has been working to adapt its program activities to the new COVID19 reality. This includes the use of virtual platforms for training and support and teleworking alternatives, so the program can continue to work with partner municipalities on inclusive municipal planning processes, women leadership support, gender-based analysis and communications in a context of crisis.
PLMI also supported the production of question and answer videos on the National Federation of Tunisian Cities’ Facebook page, around various themes linked to the response to COVID-19 at the local level. In each video, an expert provided responds to questions asked in advance by those interested. One of the videos that PLMI helped produce was about how to address the problem of violence against women during a pandemic.
To respond to immediate needs expressed by PLMI’s eight partner municipalities, the project provided $5,000 CAD to each municipality. These extra resources are used to buy health and security equipment, especially for women working on the frontline. A video detailing PLMI’s first response to the COVID19 was produced and posted on the Canadian Embassy social media channels, such as Facebook. Future activities include documenting decisions taken at national and local level in this context of health crisis, and their impact on women and girls in particular, and draw lessons and recommendations for the future.
The Partnership for Local Economic Development and Democratic Governance (PLEDDG) helps local governments in three regions of Ukraine to create economic opportunities for their citizens. In the response to COVID-19, PLEDDG has been focusing on business continuity planning for partner municipalities and supporting small and medium enterprises.
PLEDDG has received approval from Global Affairs Canada to spend up to $100,000 on personal protective equipment for 16 partner cities. Nearly three months worth of supplies of gloves, disinfectants and masks have been delivered to date. These supplies will be generally used in the cities’ Administrative Service Centers, which is the primary place where citizens meet city hall employees and access services. PLEDDG is researching how to support partner cities to install protective plastic shields at these centers and is conducting an IT assessment to purchase needed equipment and software to conduct online meetings.
The project has also been conducting webinars on relevant topics, including how local governments can support businesses during this pandemic. Other educational campaigns are currently in the works, on topics such as gender considerations during the pandemic and participatory budgeting.
Vietnam is poised to be the first FCM partner country to recover from the pandemic, with zero fatalities from COVID-19, and an extremely effective national response to the pandemic. This means the Partnerships for Municipal Innovation - Local Economic Development (PMI-LED) Vietnam office can focus on supporting economic recovery. Staff are currently working on various proposals to support economic recovery in partner municipalities.
Meanwhile, the Vietnam Municipal Solid Waste Management Project (VnSWM) continues to actively work with partner municipalities, Bac Giang and Hoi An. Hoi An, which depends heavily on international tourism as an economic generator, has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. The lack of tourism does bring a unique benefit: considerably less waste is being generated. Hoi An’s landfills have recently been in crisis mode, unable to implement long-term waste management strategies because they had to respond to the immediate problems. VnSWM has a brief window of opportunity to try help mitigate the crisis in order to be able to focus again on project priorities and get the city’s solid waste management system back on line in time for economic recovery and the return of tourism. In Bac Giang, VnSWM is considering how to assist the city’s emergency communication about municipal services, such as solid waste management, with its resident during the pandemic.