Challenges, Responses, and Opportunities
EPIC-Africa and AfricanNGOs


The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020. While Africa still accounts for relatively few deaths, the numbers are rising. Governments in Africa and elsewhere have instituted wide-ranging measures to curb the spread of the disease including travel restrictions, night-time curfews, the banning of large gatherings and social distancing. These measures had swift and dramatic social and economic consequences for all sectors of society, including civil society organizations (CSOs).

CSOs have a long tradition of performing crucial developmental, humanitarian and advocacy functions across Africa, often under challenging conditions. As a result, there can’t be any effective response to COVID-19 without the involvement of CSOs.

However, at a time when their contributions are more critical than ever, they are also confronted with the negative impact of the pandemic on their operations and sustainability.

This report is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on the impact of COVID-19 on African CSOs. It is based on a survey conducted by @AfricanNGOs and EPIC-Africa between 29 April and 15 May 2020.

The objectives of the survey were four-fold:

  • Assess the negative impact of the pandemic on the funding and operations of CSOs
  • Understand how CSOs are coping and responding to these challenges
  • Highlight CSOs’ involvement in national responses to the pandemic
  • Identify opportunities emerging from the crisis and the lessons learned

The report presents a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on African CSOs, as well as the many ways that they are responding to the crisis while safeguarding their organizations. It also highlights opportunities that emerged from the crisis and crucial challenges which need to be addressed in support of the recovery and sustainability of African CSOs.

This report fills a critical knowledge gap and offers funders, governments, the private sector and other key stakeholders data-based evidence to inform their engagement with African CSOs, both during and after the pandemic.

It also provides CSOs with a tool to help strengthen solidarity and inform advocacy for greater recognition and support for the sector.