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Accepted Paper:

Cooperating in the pandemic: how covid-19 is impacting Italian development NGOs  


Fiorenzo Polito (Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS))

Paper short abstract:

The paper will provide a picture of the impacts of covid-19 on the Italian development sector, resorting to data uploaded by ca. 80 NGOs in March 2020 and December 2020. Current state of NGOs will be explored through four perspectives: activities, economies, human resources and future strategies.

Paper long abstract:

As the covid-19 pandemic has ignited a global and systemic crisis, it is also putting a strain on those civil society organisations engaged in international development and humanitarian aid both in Italy and abroad.

This paper aims to contribute to the ongoing debate by composing a framework of some of the covid-19 related issues experienced by Italian development NGOs and their consequent responses. It will do so by qualitatively exploring data collected at two different moments of the pandemic: one month after its outbreak, at the end of March 2020, and up to December 2020 – up to 9 months later.

Resorting to open data entered voluntarily by over 80 NGOs and aggregated on the online portal Open Cooperazione, the presentation will try to probe the health status of Italian NGOs in four main fields: 1. Changes in terms of activities (both in response to the emergency and beyond); 2. Consequences of the pandemic over the economic sustainability of organisations, 3. Impacts on human resources in Italy and abroad; 4. Future horizons in terms of strategic planning and changes in operating models.

By looking at the short and medium term, it will be possible to understand to what extent the current pandemic is transformative for different types of NGOs (e.g. Italian NGOs and international NGOs active in Italy), and how/if the pandemic accelerates or slows down changes that are already underway.

Panel P05b
Learning from unprecedented times: NGOs and CSOs through the COVID-19 pandemic (NGOs in Development Study Group) II