ORU Fogar members share experiences regarding COVID-19

On May 14, the Spanish-speaking members of ORU Fogar, and the French-speaking on 15th, participated in a virtual meeting "Shall we connect? Response of the regions to the COVID-19 crisis" sharing practices and experiences, with regard to how regions around the world are combating the pandemic. Thus, consistent with the spirit of interaction of the organization, health, social, food and economic reactivation actions were explained.

The event was attended by regional presidents, governors, prefects and representatives of regions of Chile, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, France, Côte d'Ivore, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger and Morocco. It was soon seen that there were very different realities. If in some African regions no case had yet been detected, the representative of the Basque Country, Rafa Hueso, spoke of the 1400 Basque deaths and in a very graphic phrase said "in Spain it is as if every day a plane fell".

Immediately it was found that the common feature was that, in all areas, the regions had been key in spreading the recommendations and raising awareness of the epidemic. Thus, beyond exercising the competencies in the health field, the regions that had them, all had dedicated themselves to distributing essential medical supplies such as masks, gloves and hygiene kits. He also highlighted the important role that regions are playing in serving the most disadvantaged layers. In many countries where the informal economy is very important, the regions had to come to the rescue of important parts of the population, prevented from income due to confinement. Thus, thousands of packs and food kits have been distributed throughout the regions. In any case, a very clear awareness of all participants that there is a very serious risk of hunger in many territories and, thus, many regions were involved in the defence of agriculture. "We must cultivate every possible corner" said Francisco Andramuño, the representative of the Ecuadorian province of Morona Santiago.

The president of ORU Fogar, Abdessamad Sekkal, who sent a video to the meeting of Spanish speakers and participated in Francophones meeting, highlighted the role of the regions in the fight against the pandemic. He stated that COVID-19 requires a review of the entire governance architecture. "As much as it seems important to strengthen the role of the nation state," he said, "it will be necessary to strengthen the role of local and regional governments to better respond to the needs of citizens and face the great challenges posed by this crisis." He said that, within the framework of ORU Fogar, a broad debate should be opened on the necessary changes in the way of governance of states and the role of regions and local government in the world.

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