Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Dear Voice grantees,
Since our 2nd update posted on April 1, many of you shared ideas and inputs about how your projects are being affected, what alternatives you have designed to keep moving forward, and how you can contribute to the response against the COVID-19 pandemic. After bringing all the information together, the Voice coordination team engaged in conversations with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry recognises these are uncertain times for many, during which it is important to keep our peace and find inventive solutions to solve problems and take care of each other. Please find here their letter of solidarity to all Voice grantees and colleagues, in which the Ministry also indicates possibilities and limitations to unforeseen changes in the planning of envisaged results, activities, and budgets within the agreed objective and (outcome) results of your projects. Click here
Below are a summary of your responses and some of the initial answers from discussions we have received to date from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NL-MOFA)
(a) Does the grantee foresee the need for extension of the project?
The pandemic is having immediate impacts on the ability of all grantees to execute their projects and plans in a timely fashion as originally designed. We foresee that approximately 62% of active Voice-funded projects may request a No Cost Extension – NCE (i.e. more time to finish implementation and submit all project reports). We also expect new challenges in reaching rightsholders, particularly for projects that work in remote/rural areas, resulting in higher costs.
As discussed with NL-MOFA: This is fully allowable. All No Cost Extension (NCE) will require prior approval from Voice. Please note that the project periods for NCE can go up to 31st December 2020, and those with reasonable justification can only go up to 31st March 2021.
(b) Does the grantee foresee complete discontinuation of project activities?
A majority of you are still able or want to continue most planned activities for now albeit with a delayed timeline. Most grantees are currently exploring ways of replacing physical meetings/workshops with online virtual interactions. However, we are aware that working remotely and online is new to most of us. Linking and Learning activities are already being planned to seek ways we can support you.
(c) Is the grantee seeking communications budget related to COVID-19?
Communication and access to trustworthy information is key. Many of the mainstream messages are not accessible for people with a disability and some indigenous groups and/or ethnic minorities. Awareness raising needs to happen online, through radio and other channels which do not require any physical meeting.
As discussed with NL-MOFA: You need to request approval from the Voice team for a budget re-allocation to increase the communications budget within the planned costs for activities that will not be implemented. To make this clear: 1) agreed budget ceilings will not be increased or ‘topped-up’, but budget for communication should come from within existing grant amounts; 2) new activities should be connected to the agreed project objectives and in line with its original scope of work. Below are examples of what we’re thinking of (not a comprehensive list):
- Budget to establish or increase connectivity within organisations and/or with co-implementing partners (e.g. cover telephone bills, access to internet subscriptions, or other resources that will allow the staff leading the implementation of the Voice grant to work from home, etc.);
- Budget to establish or increase connectivity for project implementation, and with project participants and rightsholders in safe and secure ways (e.g. cover fees to use applications such as Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, Skype, GoToMeeting, etc.);
- Budget for the production and/or translation of inclusive and fully accessible awareness-raising information related to COVID-19 (e.g. translate official healthcare-related information in local languages or sign language);
- Budget to adapt planned lobby and advocacy activities to online campaigning, messages, and/or platforms.
(d) Do you propose to have specific COVID-19 activities and if yes, what kind of activities?
We have seen proposals on:
- Awareness raising through the production and dissemination of Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials, video education, radio messages or programmes, including in local languages and accessible (easy, images, sign language);
- Support on the accessibility of (health and other) services for People with Disability and elderly in particular;
- Protective gear for your organisation’s staff members to enable continuation of project implementation;
- Influencing at different levels for sensitive and inclusive COVID-19 management;
- Actions in reaction to human rights violations and violence against rightsholders.
As discussed with NL-MOFA: Allowable costs are those COVID-19 response activities that are in line with your core project intervention areas as established in your respective Grant Agreements. These could relate to awareness raising, influencing or communication related to COVID 19 in the context of a particular project. Please share these ideas with the Voice team in your country for approval before implementation.
The Dutch law enabling the creation of the Voice programme does not allow grantees to use Voice funding for any ‘humanitarian aid’ related activities, include direct service delivery activities. This means that we cannot support proposals you’ve made on:
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) related activities: provision of hygiene and / or protection kits (soap, protective masks, etc) for project participants and rightsholders;
- Support in basic needs for vulnerable rightsholders;
The Dutch government is making other funding streams available in order to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and to address the basic needs that the Voice grant facility cannot meet. We’ll share that information with you once it is available. Other COVID-19 response funds are being disseminated in the various platforms, some of which we have also shared with you.
We fully understand that the fear and uncertainty around this crisis is mounting. The specific groups Voice seeks to serve are feeling the negative effects and the pain created by COVID-19 crisis particularly intensely. In the current circumstances and the spirit in which Voice was established, we are glad we can do our part through awareness raising, influencing and enhanced communication.
Remember that still today and in the near future -once this pandemic passes, your work to promote more inclusive and compassionate societies needs to continue and more strongly than ever before!