Civil society organisations’ responses to the effects of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Ghana

Solomon Kofi Amoah


Globally, civil society organisations (CSOs) operate in uncertain environments. Thus, resilient CSOs have a demonstrable ability to turn challenges into opportunities. The literature highlights how some CSOs successfully adapt to external threats to their existence. However, how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the operations of CSOs in Ghana and how these organisations are responding to the effects has received very little empirical attention and documentation. This paper examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on CSOs’ operations and the strategic responses of these organisations. It draws on evidence collected in Ghana through qualitative and quantitative approaches. The paper argues that while the impact of the pandemic on CSOs was dramatic in the short to medium term, CSOs’ resolve to ensure that they remain relevant to critical stakeholders, including mainly their intended beneficiaries and donors, has been their most vital survival anchor.


Secara global, organisasi masyarakat sipil (NGO) beroperasi di lingkungan yang tidak pasti. Dengan demikian, NGO yang tangguh memiliki kemampuan yang dapat dibuktikan untuk mengubah tantangan menjadi peluang. Berbagai literatur telah menyoroti bagaimana beberapa NGO berhasil beradaptasi dengan ancaman eksternal terhadap keberadaan mereka. Namun, bagaimana pandemic virus corona (COVID-19) telah memengaruhi operasi NGO di Ghana dan bagaimana organisasiorganisasi ini merespons dampaknya, hanya mendapat sedikit perhatian dan dokumentasi empiris. Studi ini mengkaji dampak pandemi COVID-19 terhadap operasi NGO dan respons strategis organisasi organisasi tersebut. Ini mengacu pada bukti yang dikumpulkan di Ghana melalui pendekatan kualitatif dan kuantitatif. Studi ini berpendapat bahwa sementara dampak pandemic pada NGO sangat dramatis dalam jangka pendek hingga menengah, tekad NGO untuk memastikan bahwa mereka tetap relevan dengan pemangku kepentingan, termasuk terutama penerima manfaat dan donor yang dituju, telah menjadi jangkar kelangsungan hidup mereka yang paling vital.


Civil society organisations; COVID-19; strategic responses; organisational sustainability; Ghana;

Full Text:



Addadzi-Koom, M. E. (2020). Quasi-state of emergency: assessing the constitutionality of Ghana’s legislative response to Covid-19. The Theory and Practice of Legislation, 2(1), 1-17.

Aduhene, D. T., & Osei-Assibey, E. (2021). Socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Ghana’s economy: challenges and prospects. International Journal of Social Economics, 48(4), 543–556.

Adom, D., Osei, M., & Adu-Agyem, E J. (2020). COVID-19 Lockdown: A Review of an Alternative to the Traditional Approach to Research. Research Journal in Advanced Social Sciences, 1(1), 1–9.

Agbozo, F., Jahn, A. (2021). COVID-19 in Ghana: challenges and countermeasures for maternal health service delivery in public health facilities. Reprod Health 18, 151.

Agyekum, M. W., Afrifa-Anane, G.F., Kyei-Arthur, F., & Addo, B. (2021). Acceptability of COVID-19 vaccination among health care workers: a cross-sectional survey in Morocco. Advances in Public Health, 17(12), 5076–5081. 21645515.2021.1989921

Amoah, S. K. (2019). Civil Society Sustainability in Ghana: A Study of Governance and Executive Transitions in Selected Non-Profit Organisations. PhD Thesis, University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

Amoah, S. K. & Afranie, S. (2015). The Relational Orientation of the African and Performance Management Practices in Selected Institutions in Ghana. 6, 2039–2117. 10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n1s1p87

Andersson, T, Cäker, M., Tengblad, S., &Wickelgren, M. (2019). Building traits for organisational resilience through balancing organisational structures, Scandinavian Journal of Management, 35, 36–45.

Anheier K. H. (2017). Civil society challenged: towards an enabling policy environment. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2017-45, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http:/ /

Antwi-Boasiako, J., Abbey, C. O. A., Ogbey, P., & Ofori, R. A. (2021). Policy responses to fight covid-19; the case of ghana. Revista de Administracao Publica, 55(1), 122–139.

Arhin, A. A., Kumi, E., & Adam, M. A. S. (2018). Facing the bullet? Non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs’) responses to the changing aid landscape in Ghana.VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Non-profit Organisations, 29(2), 348–360.

Arkorful, V. E., Abdul-Rahaman, N., Ibrahim, H. S., & Arkorful, V. A. (2021). Fostering Trust, Transparency, Satisfaction and Participation Amidst COVID-19 corruption: Does the Civil Society Matter? – Evidence from Ghana. Public Organization Review, 0123456789.

Atuguba, A. R. (2015). Civil society: The key to Ghana’s democratic transformation and consolidation. In WACSI. (2015). Civil Society and Regional Integration in West Africa: Practioners’ Perspective. Accra, Ghana: WACSI.

Bamfo, I., Sarfo, J. O., Ansah, E. W., & Amoah, S. K. (2020). The Impact of Health on Economic Development: Ghana’s COVID-19 Management So Far. European Journal of Economic Studies, 9(1), 3-10.

Beardmore, S., & Gibbons, M. (2020). Civil society has a crucial role to play in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from https:// pandemic

Bell, J., & Dubb, S. (2020). It’s Different This Time: Handling Non-profit Staff Cuts under COVID-19. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from time-handling-your-nonprofits-staffingunder-covid-19/

Brechenmacher, S., & Carothers, T. (2020). How is COVID-19 affecting Civil Society worldwide? How is it Responding?-From Poverty to Power. Retrieved June 17, 2020 from is-it-responding/

CIVICUS. (2020). Civic Freedoms and the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Snapshot of Restrictions and Attacks. Research Brief from CIVICUS Monitor. Retrieved from https:// and-thecovid19-pandemic-a-snapshot-of-restrictions

Epic Africa (2020). “The Impact of Covid-19 On African Civil Society Organizations: Challenges, Responses and Opportunities.” 185fcbaf/1593490570417/The+Impact+of+Covid19+on+African+Civil+Society+Organizations.pdf.

Eribo, S. (2021). “COVID-19 and African Civil Society Organizations: Impact and Responses,” in “African Universities and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” special issue, Alliance for African Partnership Perspectives, 147-156.

Gary, I. (1996). Confrontation, co-operation or co-optation: NGOs and the Ghanaian state during structural adjustment. Review of African Political Economy, 23(68), 149- 168.

GSS (2020). How COVID-19 is affecting firms in Ghana: Results from the Business Tracker Survey, GSS, The World Bank, and UNDP.

Hutchful, E. (2002). Ghana’s Adjustment experience: The paradox of reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ipsen C. & Edwards K. (2021) Incremental and Disruptive Change and Wellbeing. In:

Brough P., Gardiner E., Daniels K. (eds) Handbook on Management and Employment Practices. Handbook Series in Occupational Health Sciences. Springer, Cham. https:/ /

James, R. (2020). 3 reasons why civil society is essential to COVID-19 recovery. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from to-covid-19-pandemic-recovery/

Judd, C. & Krueger, A. B. (2016). ”Disruptive Change in the Taxi Business: The Case of Uber.” American Economic Review, 106 (5): 177-82.

Kapata et al., 2020 – Kapata, N., Ihekweazu, C., Ntoumi, F., Raji, T., Chanda-Kapata, P., Mwaba, P., Mfinanga, S. (2020). Is Africa prepared for tackling the COVID-19 (SARS CoV-2) epidemic? Lessons from past outbreaks, ongoing Pan-African public health efforts, and implications for the future. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 93: 233-236.

KC, D. (2022). COVID-19 and non-governmental organisations in Nepal, Voluntary Sector Review (published online ahead of print 2022). Retrieved June 6, 2022, fromhttps:// 204080521X16445716346083/article-10.1332-204080521X16445716346083.xml

Kumi, E. (2017a). Domestic resource mobilisation strategies of national non-governmental development organisations in Ghana. Bath Papers in International Development and Wellbeing (BPIWD), 52, 1-22. Kumi, E. (2017b). Diversify or Die? The Response of Ghanaian Non-Governmental Development Organisations (NGDOs) to a Changing Aid Landscape. PhD Thesis, University of Bath, United Kingdom.

Kumi, E. (2022). Pandemic democracy: the nexus of covid-19, shrinking civic space for civil society organisations and the 2020 elections in Ghana. Democratisation, 1–19.

LINC. (2020). How Civil Society Organisations in the Global South are Impacted by COVID-19. Washington DC. Retrieved from 2020/04/COVID-19-Impact-on-CSOs_LINCreport.pdf

Linnenluecke, M. K. (2017). Resilience in business and management research: a review of influential publications and a research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 19(1), 4-30.

Ministry of Health. (2020). Situation Update, COVID-19 Outbreak in Ghana as at August 8 2020. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from latest.php

National Non-profit Organisation (NPO) Policy. (2020). Retrieved July 7, 2021, from FINAL-NON-PROFIT-ORGANISATION-POLICY-2020.pdf (

Newby, K., & Branyon, B.(2021). Pivoting services: Resilience in the face of disruptions innon-profit organisations caused by COVID-19. Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affair, 7(3), 443–460.–460

Obadare, E., & Krawczyk, K. (2022). Civil Society and Philanthropy in Africa: Parallels, Paradoxes and Promise. Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 51(1), 76–102.

Ohene, E. (2020). COVID-19 induced miracle. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from https://

Patterson, A.S. & Balogun, E. (2021). African Responses to COVID-19: The Reckoning of Agency?, African Studies Review, Volume 64, Number 1 (March 2021), pp. 144–167.

Quakyi NK, Agyemang Asante NA, Nartey YA, et al. (2021). Ghana’s COVID-19 response: the Black Star can do even better. BMJ Global Health, 6, e005569. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh- 2021-005569 Savage, J. (2020). How civil society is fighting back against coronavirus crackdowns. Retrieved July 17, 2020, from back-against-coronavirus-crackdowns/

Schwier, J., & Holland, M. (2020). How African philanthropy responds in a crisis. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from responds-in-a-crisis/

Schwier, J., Wallington, C., Holland, M., & Magoronga, W. (2020). The Landscape of Large-Scale Giving by African Philanthropists. A Research Brief. Bridgespan Group.

STAR-Ghana. (2020a). Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) trains 400 health personnel from 93 Hospitals across Ghana. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from

STAR-Ghana. (2020b). The Impact of Covid-19 on African Civil Society Organisations: Challenges, Responses and Opportunities. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from https:// organisationschallenges-responses-and-opportunities

Stewart, M.J., Kuenzi, K., &Walk, M. (2021). States of COVID-19: Synthesis of state-level non-profit reports on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. wp-content/uploads/sites/435/2021/04/Synthesis-Report-of-State-COVIDReports.pdf

Tengblad, S. (2018). Organizational Resilience: Theoretical Framework. In: Tengblad,S.,Oudhuis, M. (eds) The Resilience Framework. Work, Organization, and Employment. Springer, Singapore.

Tsikata, D., Gyekye-Jandoh, M. & Hushie, M. (2013). Political Economy Analysis (PEA)of Civil Society in Ghana. STARGhana, November 2013. Accessed July 14, 2017, http://

USAID. (2020). 2019 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index For Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria.

Vandyck, C. K. (2020). COVID-19 Reveals Local Fundraising Capacity as Civil Society’s

Weakest Link in West Africa. Blog post. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from https://www.

Vogus, T. J., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2007). Organisational resilience: Towards a theory and research agenda. In 2007 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, SMC 2007 (pp. 3418-3422). [4414160] (Conference Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics). ICSMC.2007.4414160

WACSI. (2020a). COVID-19 WACSI Offers A Platform to Exchange Experiences and Recommendations on Civic Space for CSOs. Blog post, Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

WACSI. (2020b). COVID-19 & Civil Society In West Africa: Assessing impact responses, and opportunities for post pandemic recovery. Policy Brief-WACPODIS -COVID 19 Series 1, 10.

WACSI. (2020c). Situational Reports of Civil Society’s response to COVID-19 in Ghana.

COVID-19 SITREP, July 2020. Accra Ghana: West Africa Civil Society Institute. Yeboah, T., Antoh, E. F., & Kumi, E. (2022). Strategic responses of microfinance institutions to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis in Ghana. Development in Practice, 32(1),112–127.


Article Metrics

Abstract - 843 PDF - 350


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Journal of Government and Civil Society

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Journal of Government and Civil Society is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License