From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, civil society organisations (CSOs) in Eastern Partnership countries have been at the forefront of the mitigation efforts, helping the most vulnerable groups and filling gaps in the governments’ responses. At the same time, the lockdown restrictions and the worsening economic situation in the region pose a serious risk to the survival and continuity of these organisations.

In this extraordinary situation, IREX Europe has just launched the European Union funded project ‘COVID-19: Civil Society Resilience and Sustainability’. This emergency-response effort will be implemented in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, giving €2.4 million of grants directly to the CSOs most impacted by the pandemic.

In Moldova among other Eastern Partnership countries, the project will foster the resilience and sustainability of civil society organisations and independent media enabling them to mitigate the immediate and longer-term impact of the pandemic. The project will support organisations providing protection and assistance to the most vulnerable groups and will also seek to level the playing field between organisations from the regions and the main cities, giving special focus on grassroots organisations and initiatives.

To provide truly timely assistance, IREX Europe already launched a call for grants for: emergency core support; psychosocial and legal support; and digitalisation to adapt to the fast-paced pandemic and post-pandemic environment. 148 organisations and initiatives applied from across Moldova, demonstrating the urgent need for assistance in Moldovan civil society.

Considering the impact of misinformation about COVID-19, independent media outlets will also be supported to run media campaigns, advocacy and awareness raising activities. These efforts aim to counter the devastating effect of the false information on COVID-19 which the World Health Organisation has called an ‘infodemic’ for its quick spread and wide circulation. 47 Moldovan independent media outlets have already expressed their interest in benefitting from this programme.

The public in Moldova will thus be able to access fact based crucial information about COVID-19 and their respective governments’ efforts to handle the pandemic. Stronger public oversight throughout the pandemic will in turn help the Eastern Partnership societies to better overcome the COVID-19 crisis.