Independent humanitarian consultants in Africa fear job and funding cuts

24 June 2020 3 min. read
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The global development sector has been hit hard by Covid-19, with scores of independent cosultants in the sector losing their jobs. NGOs in Africa appear to be the most uncertain in the world, according to development platform Devex.

Devex is a media platform designed to facilitate collaboration and business development across the global development aid sector – valued at more than $200 billion. The firm has been surveying development professionals across the globe for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis, looking to gauge the impact that the crisis is having.

As organisations and individuals across the globe feel the financial effects of global lockdowns, supply chain disruptions and subdued consumer behaviour, funding for development organisations has plummeted. Devex reports that heavy cuts have been made across the globe, although stark regional variations are visible.

Development organisations losing funding

Using data collected from nearly 600 development professionals across the globe, Devex found that approximately half of all development organisations across Africa, the Middle East and Latin America have seen funding cuts due to the pandemic. The highest number was in Australia and Oceania, with 56% reporting a cut in funding.

This figure stands at 40% for Europe and 35% for North America, while just over 40% of organisations in Asia also saw reduced funding. Cuts in these regions are considerably lower, but the figures still represent a worrying trend for aid worldwide.

Against this backdrop, development organisations in Africa are increasingly uncertain that they will survive the crisis, more so than organisations in any other part of the world. Just under 40% of African organisations – mostly NGOs – reported that the crisis could mark the end of their operations.

Fewer organisations in the Middle East and Asia are uncertain of their survival, while more than three-quarters in Australia & Oceania as well as Latin America are confident that they will get through the crisis. In Europe and North America, the figure stands at 6% for each region. Once again, Devex uses the figures to point out the regional disparities in terms of development aid.

Uncertainty among development aid organisations

In Africa, this scenario is particularly damaging, given that the region has significant funding deficits. Funding cuts also spell disaster for individuals working within the development sector. While most respondents to Devex’s come from NGOs, many are also independent consultants.

Nearly 20% of African respondents operate as independent consultants. In a separate survey, Devex found that independent development consultants have had the toughest time during the crisis. The firm surveyed nearly 600 professionals across more than 100 countries, and found that just under 15% of development professionals across the globe have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Devex reports that the share of independent consultants to lose their job has jumped 10 percentage points since the start of April, when it first began its research. Funding cuts are a major reason for this. Another factor to consider is that the development aid sector is heavily reliant on conferences, site visits and international travel – all of which has been heavily restricted during the crisis.

On the other hand, some respondents to Devex’s survey pointed out that the severe impact on health and economic repercussions will leave a lot of work for development organisations to do in the aftermath of the crisis.