Forty per cent of international development charities 'could fold in next six months'

The stark statistic is revealed by a survey of 116 members of Bond, the development umbrella body

People queue for aid in Bangladesh (Photograph: Rehman Asad/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
People queue for aid in Bangladesh (Photograph: Rehman Asad/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

More than two out of five international development charities could fold in the next six months, a survey by the development umbrella Bond suggests.

A survey of 116 Bond members found that 50 (43 per cent) believed they would not survive the next six months without urgent additional support as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bond has previously warned that international development charities could lose almost £1.3bn of income because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest survey revealed that half of those worried about imminent closure were small charities, 17 were medium-sized organisations and eight were large organisations. 

One in 10 of the respondents reported that their organisation had made redundancies, more than half (54 per cent) had furloughed staff and 28 per cent had asked staff to take temporary pay cuts.

None of the largest organisations had made redundancies. Seven of those that had were small organisations and five were medium-sized.

Some 70 per cent of organisations said they expected the crisis to affect their organisational finances this financial year and to start affecting them in the next one.

In a statement, Bond said those living in poverty were the most at risk of contracting and dying from the virus and were also more likely to be negatively affected by social distancing measures, which might restrict access to food and put livelihoods at risk. 

Stephanie Draper, chief executive of Bond, said: “NGOs are doing everything in their power to absorb the impact Covid-19 is having on their organisations to avoid any adverse consequences on the vital services they provide to people living in poverty around the world.

“But if more than a third of organisations, particularly small specialist ones, fold over the next six months, more vulnerable people will be at greater risk of going without food, clean water, education and healthcare. 

“This will leave many people dealing with Covid-19 without help in countries without adequate healthcare systems and the financial strength to protect livelihoods.

“We also risk failing to contain the virus globally, which will mean it continues to be a threat, undoing any progress made towards building a healthier, more sustainable and just world.”

Draper called for funders to explore the possibility of offering a stabilisation fund to support international development organisations through the crisis.

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