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ZELA’s position on COVID-19

25 March 2020

ATTENTION: ZIMBABWE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ASSOCIATION PARTNERS,DONORS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS

RE: COVID-19 MEASURES AND STRATEGIES TO REDUCE HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS

Greetings and here is hoping I find you well and safe.

With the deadly novel coronavirus COVID 19 that has drastically affected most parts of Asia, Europe, North America and spreading into Africa, there is every reason for Zimbabwe to be worried, despite having few officially recorded cases to date. As you will see, as the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) we have closed our office for now from the 23rd of March  and requested most of our staff to work from home, except for a few staff who will on a need basis be required to be in the office to provide “essential services”. The organisation has also put in place measures to ensure that the health and safety of such staff and other ZELA staff is protected.

As an organisation concerned about protecting and advancing human welfare, we are continuously monitoring and assessing the rapidly changing environment through our safeguarding team, and our thoughts are with the many people who have been affected globally. We are also following the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, our Ministry of Health and Presidential pronouncements in order to keep our team adequately informed on the widespread effects of this pandemic.

As ZELA, we would greatly appreciate any support that our partners can provide us to help cushion our staff during this crucial moment, since our human capital is most important to the work we do. In the meantime, we are trying our best to support our staff with little unrestricted funds we have in our coffers.

Best Regards,

Mutuso Dhliwayo

Executive Director

Appendix 1

ZELA COVID-19 response strategy

Focus area ZELA Strategy
Office closure notice The ZELA Office will be closed from 23/3/2020 until a time to be determined by ZELA Management, who will be monitoring the situation. Staff will work remotely and monitor any developments. On Monday the 30th of March 2020, ZELA management and safeguarding team will meet to discuss on any emerging issues. Any staff member intending to work at the office will first get authorization from the Executive Director. The ZELA information centre is closed for use by external people, until further notice. A communication will be sent to all staff on Tuesday 31 March 2020, to inform staff of any new developments.
Suspension of activities and travel ban ZELA has decided to suspend all activities that bring people together such as workshops and other events. Employee travel has also been suspended since it poses a risk. As such all planned project trips and activities for the month of March 2020 have been cancelled with immediate effect.
Managing closure implications on ZELA projects: We are in the process of determining what impact COVID-19 is having or is likely to have on our projects and workplans to determine what work will continue and how, as well as  what may be put on hold. We are also determining the nature of support from donor and partners we need in these difficult moments. Staff members are now working from home based on weekly workplans with particular focus on desktop research, reports and other activities that can be implemented while staff are at home. Staff members will be provided with the necessary tools and support to work from home. All project officers will be required to regularly submit project specific plans for submission to donors and partners including indication of level and status of implementation of activities and activities that will be postponed.   All staff members have been encouraged to reach out and communicate with to their specific project beneficiaries and target groups while working from home to inform them of any cancellation of activities and to constantly update them on the prevailing situation. All project officers, with the support of the Director are encouraged to monitor any communication from donors and partners on any developments related to COVID-19 and potential impact to projects. Staff members are required to be responsive to request for information from donors.
Safeguarding measures at the office With immediate effect, all reception staff should ensure that there are sanitisers at the reception area and within ZELA premises, for the limited visitors that may come to the office if only it is a matter of essential services. Visitors should at least stand at least one metre away from the reception, when being served. All visitors to ZELA office, should be encouraged to use sanitisers and the ZELA team is discouraged from inciting visitors to the office. Any special consideration should be approved by the Executive Director in writing. All staff working from the office should ensure that they practice social distancing and have face masks and sanitisers for use, as necessary. ZELA provided staff with hand sanitisers and  more sanitisers will be procured and fuel will be provided for finance and admin staff as well as other staff in need. Communication support will be provided to staff, as they work from home.
Staff leave and self quarantine For staff members who fall sick during this period of corona virus, the staff member will be formally considered to have been granted sick leave, when management is informed. Staff who wish to take their annual leave days during this period will be considered, provided they have engaged their immediate supervisor on urgent deliverables under their mandate. In cases of employees having influenza symptoms, they are encouraged to work from home as a precaution and self quarantine, after alerting their supervisors. Suspected cases are encouraged to go for testing.
Control of communications ZELA Administrator, Bernadette Mandisodza is to receive all organizational related communications and direct them to the relevant people. Her mobile number is : 0772 424 165 and her email address is :Berna@zela.org. Communication about ZELA’s COVID’s strategy with donors and other key stakeholders will be done through the Executive Director and the Deputy Executive Director.

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