The impact of the crisis on activities of non-governmental sector was discussed at the meeting of Saeima’s Citizenship, Migration and Social Cohesion Committee

On May 6 at a meeting of Saeima's Citizenship, Migration and Social Cohesion Committee, Kristīne Zonberga, Director of Civic Alliance - Latvia, presented the most up-to-date information on the activities of CSOs during the emergency situation and the necessary support mechanisms for the non-governmental sector. Representatives of the Association of Disabled Persons and Their Friends “Apeirons”, volunteer movement #paliecmājās (#stayhome), Latvian Scouts and Guides Central Organization, Society “Shelter “Safe House””, World Federation of Free Latvians and European Association of Latvians and Ministry of Culture also took part in the meeting.

During the conversation, it was emphasized that active and strong CSOs are vital for the existence of a strong civil society. The non-governmental sector is also playing an important role in overcoming the crisis. The meeting discussed the impact of the global pandemic on the activities of non-governmental organisations and its mitigation, thinking in advance of the measures to be taken when the COVID-19 crisis is replaced by the subsequent economic crisis. The non-governmental sector, which not only operates in the economy but also plays an important social role, is highly vulnerable to the negative effects of the pandemic . Regardless of the areas of activity, all CSOs face similar challenges: decline in resources and activities.

When thinking about overcoming the Covid-19 crisis, we also need to think about how people's habits will change after the cancellation of the state of emergency. Already now, in addition to financial issues, the issues of remote work and the involvement of CSOs in decision-making affecting the sector are also being raised by CSOs. One of the major problems for CSOs is that there is no a single institution or official responsible for the development of the non-governmental sector and horizontal issues in the sector, including volunteering, which makes it particularly difficult for CSOs to operate in times of crisis.

Despite the current situation, the meeting also expressed a commitment to work, to be actively involved in the decision-making process and to help the community to overcome the pandemic - the contribution of volunteers is especially commendable, since it significantly facilitates the work of social services and expands the range of aid recipients. And such solidarity, helping fellow human beings is the best of cohesive mechanisms of society.

At the end of the meeting, Chairman of the Committee Andrejs Judins emphasized: “Many specific issues were raised at the meeting and possible solutions were outlined, which will be compiled for the members of the committee for further work, since it’s all too clear that we will not be able to return to the rhythm of the previous life with the end of the state of emergency. It is also clear that the CSO sector, and in particular its role in cohesive society, will continue to be the focus of our committee.”

The audio recording of the meeting and the proposals presented by CSOs can be found here.