5 Lessons from Covid-19 Philanthropy & Implications for Future Disaster Funding – by Mr. Harish Jagtani

By working together and sharing the lessons learnt during this time, we can make changes in the lives of those most affected by disasters and crises worldwide

The coronavirus spread rapidly ever since the first cases were reported from Wuhan, China, at end-2019, and then struck almost every corner of the world affecting countries and economies worldwide and millions of lives. Disasters of such a magnitude teach us a lot. Besides, today, we are witnessing more and more natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and wildfires, which make it important for us to understand, learn and react faster in such situations. Here are some lessons grant-makers can learn for faster and smoother disaster recovery…

1. The impact of Covid-19

Over the past two years, we have seen how the pandemic has impacted our lives. All of us have lost some or the other member of our family and friends to Covid. We have also faced issues like rising unemployment, mental stress and food scarcity among many others. We should think about the recovery process and approaches that can help us in similar situations in future.

The pandemic prompted foundations to relax grant needs and hasten the decision-making process and allow flexibility to recipients. Additionally, the pandemic drove donors to dig deeper and change their grant-making approaches to arrange for more capital than planned. So, donors should consider these and provide more flexibility in funding according to the circumstances.

2. Clarity is very vital

At end-December 2019, the WHO office in China received the first reports of ‘Pneumonia of an Unknown Cause’. But several weeks earlier, healthcare professionals had warned the Chinese authorities of a SARS-like illness spreading among patients. What followed is history. This underscores how honesty and transparency is of the utmost importance. Available data imply that, if action had been taken a few days earlier, the virus spread could have been contained significantly. But the officials kept quiet because of economic fears and political repercussions while the virus kept spreading its tentacles.

Other countries, too, struggled to control this new infection, revealing the challenges to consistent and coherent communication in a fast-changing situation, sometimes due to internal disagreements, but also because of blatantly misleading comments by political leaders and the media, for instance in countries like Brazil and the US. These also have serious consequences.

3. Better health systems

As the deadly virus hit country after country, it became clear that no public health system was ready for such a huge and long-drawn disaster. We also saw how the marginalized sections of society suffered during this time. Donors and grant providers should promote a stronger, better funded and unbiased health system across nations. We should also support organizations that work towards improving our health systems. Through better access to good digital health, we should keep moving towards a better future. Donors should also support access to mental healthcare services throughout the disaster recovery process.

4. Rebuild trust in docs

During the pandemic, wrong and distorted information led to many deaths that were preventable. As the days progressed and the number of deaths rose, trust in our systems, leaders and even science began to wane in people’s minds. But we should keep faith in ourselves and learn to process right from wrong to act and help ourselves and our communities come out of such disasters in future.

In fact, we should fight misinformation by building trust in organizations that help with testing, treatments and vaccines to save lives. We should also try to rebuild trust in our doctors, scientists, community leaders and one another to work our way from tragedy to recovery, however grim the situation.

5. Community is important

In the beginning, we became isolated and lost all sense of community which is vital to our general well-being. But slowly, communities came together to reach out and help share information and offer such facilities as testing and vaccines and being together with the common goal of beating the scourge. Donors should come up with custom-made solutions and support community-driven efforts to recover from such crises. As disasters continue to wreck our communities, donors must respond collectively to lift marginalized voices and address inequities. The key to winning disasters of such a scale is universal solidarity. Moreover organizations that work with local communities are best positioned to lead long-term plans for faster recovery opportunities.

About the Author

Mr. Harish Jagtani, a philanthropist, visionary, businessman of Indian origin, currently based in Democratic Republic of Congo for more than 20 years now, is one of the most reputed business owners in the Indian diaspora as well as the entire expat business community in DRC. The business house caters to multiple domains, including but not limited to Domestic as well as International Air Cargo, real Estate and infrastructure development, healthcare, hospitality as well as CSR.

Coming from humble beginnings from Jaipur, Rajasthan, Mr. Harish Jagtani has come a long way in building this conglomerate with a strong and clear vision, sheer dedication and grit. Starting with a small job in sales, Mr. Harish Jagtani today is a proud and righteous owner of a fleet of airplanes and multiple businesses that cater to the basic and advanced needs of the people of Dem. Rep. of Congo in different sectors.

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