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Disruptions and Adaptations: The Effects of COVID-19 on Contraceptive Services across the Humanitarian-Development Nexus

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On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Two weeks later, on March 25, the United Nations (UN) launched the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19, issuing a $2.01 billon appeal to combat COVID-19 in the world’s most vulnerable countries. At the time the response plan and appeal were released, COVID-19 was already wreaking havoc in the world’s wealthiest countries, and poised to devastate countries facing fragility and crises, and exacerbate already critical humanitarian needs on a global scale.

Contraception is lifesaving, and is a priority health service in emergencies—as detailed in the 2018 Minimum Initial Services Package (MISP) for sexual and reproductive health (SRH). It should be made available at the outset of every emergency response, including epidemics and pandemics. Facing acute disruptions in movement, service delivery, and supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders rapidly adapted their activities to provide ongoing contraceptive services, developing and implementing innovations in preparedness and response in real time.

Between August 27 and October 3, 2020, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) conducted a series of key informant interviews (KIIs) with diverse stakeholders to document the impact of COVID-19 on contraceptive service delivery, service delivery innovations and adaptations to continue providing contraception during the pandemic, and barriers and facilitators to the provision of contraceptive and SRH services in COVID-19 preparedness and response in settings across the humanitarian-development nexus.

This series of KIIs is one component of a mixed-method landscaping assessment, which includes a literature review, a global coverage survey of contraceptive service delivery in humanitarian settings (coverage survey), two series of KIIs with stakeholders across the humanitarian-development nexus, and three case studies in diverse humanitarian settings—Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Borno State, Nigeria, and Cyclone Idai-affected Mozambique.

In November 2020, WRC convened technical stakeholders from a range of settings and organizations to collaboratively develop actionable recommendations for governments, donors, researchers, advocates, and implementing partners to advance the availability and accessibility of sustainable, high-quality contraceptive services across the humanitarian-development nexus. These recommendations, as well as a synthesis and discussion of key findings from across all components of the landscaping assessment, will be available in January 2021.