UK NGOs increasingly concerned that measures to help prevent spread of Covid-19 in the world’s poorest countries remain unfunded

A recent survey conducted by Bond has found that 83% of UK NGOs believe that critical measures needed for an effective Covid-19 response, such as providing clean water and basic sanitation and tackling hunger and food security, remain largely unfunded.

95% of NGOs who responded say they are now responding to Covid-19, the majority of which are small NGOs. 52% of these small organisations are responding to the pandemic without additional funds, in stark contrast to larger NGOs, 86% of which have stated they had secured additional funding.

The survey also found that funding from multilateral organisations is starting to trickle through to 14% of respondents, but funding was limited to predominantly large organisations, who made up 77% of those who have received multilateral funding. A quarter (25%) said they are using their own funds or reserves to respond to the pandemic, with almost half, 48%, pivoting existing programmes and well over a third (38%) relying on individual giving to fund their response.

Most of the NGOs who responded said additional funds had come from private foundations, standing at 32%. Far fewer NGOs have received funding from DFID. Only 16% said they have received funding of any kind from DFID, and just 4% had secured new funds from DFID country offices to tackle the effects of Covid-19 in poor countries.

Respondents reported they were encountering a range of obstacles when applying for funding, either due to a lack of funding opportunities, delays in terms of dispersals, slow donor response, or a lack of transparency or closed funding calls. 12% of respondents specifically mentioned delays in securing multilateral funding. 42% had had one or more proposals rejected, and many more said they were yet to hear back from donors.

Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond, the UK network for organisations working in international development said:

“With increasing research indicating that Covid-19 is set to push millions of people back into poverty, we urgently need to address the funding shortfalls this survey has revealed. The vulnerable communities smaller NGOs help are carrying the burden of this because they do not have the same level of access to funding from donors, which means more and more NGOs are having to either divert funding away from other important aid programmes or drain their reserves.

We would urge donors, including the UK government, to increase support for programmes aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19, such as providing clean water and basic sanitation, food security, as well supporting jobs and livelihoods to avoid pushing those currently on the breadline into extreme poverty. This funding must be accessible to small and medium NGOs who serve millions of vulnerable communities. If even one country remains at risk of Covid-19, we all remain at risk.”


Notes to editor

  1. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
  2. This survey was conducted in May 2020. 92 organisations responded in total, making up nearly a quarter of Bonds members. 45 Small NGOs responded representing 48.9% of the total, 25 medium NGOs making up 27.2% and 22 large NGOs, making up 23.9%.
  3. Of the 92 NGOs who responded to the survey, 76 identified at least one unfunded programme need critical to an effective Covid-19 response, and most identified more than one. Respondents discussed a range of unfunded programme needs, from support for basic hygiene measures through to social protection and public health messaging.

The unfunded needs most commonly identified were (% of respondents):

  • Measures that help prevent the spread of infection e.g. WASH (27%)
  • Measures that tackle hunger and support food security (25%)
  • Social protection and support for jobs and livelihoods (25%)
  • Improved access to information and public health messaging (13%)
  • Primary health care and health systems strengthening (10%)
  • Rights and governance issues e.g. support for journalists (9%)
  • Issues facing women and girls e.g. Violence against women and girls (VAWG), Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) (8%)
  • Support for people living with disabilities (7%)

For further information please contact Maryam Mohsin on 07555 336029 or [email protected]