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Fast and Flexible: Adapting a Resilience Programme to Respond to the COVID-19 Crisis

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While we were working on building communities' capacity to cope with climate change, COVID-19 hit the world. Just like so many other activities, the health crisis disrupted the Partners for Resilience (PfR) programme. But instead of giving in, PfR lived up to its aim. With flexibility, experience and networks seasoned by a decade of collaboration, Cordaid and PfR helped communities to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

At the start of the crisis, PfR's regular work was hampered in all ten countries where the programme is active. The challenges must sound familiar to so many: people could not work in the office, meetings and activities were cancelled, staff could not travel.

Fast and flexible to ensure what is needed

As days and weeks passed, it became clear that the most acute needs in the PfR project areas were evolving. Farmers and sellers were cut off from their markets and day labourers lost their income, which often resulted in immediate lack of basic needs.

Most people did not have the necessary information and means to prevent the spread of the virus. This new crisis was asking for a new approach and the PfR project teams started to adapt their activities to address the emerging needs.

With approval from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cordaid was able to move funds from the ongoing PfR Dialogue and Dissent programme towards COVID-19 response. The response focused on programmes in Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. Each country team developed individual proposals according to locally identified, most immediate needs.

A battle shifted from climate disaster to health crisis

The pandemic has shown how crucial and valuable our established network of local partner organisations is. Though national and international based staff were cut off from the field, local civil society partners continued most of the planned activities to lobby and advocate for Integrated Risk Management (IRM). While governments were busy responding to the pandemic, together with national and local partners, many communities kept the relevant policy dialogues alive.

At the same time, local partners were able to identify the real needs in their areas, involved the local government, and carried out COVID-19 response activities. In most countries, local organisations generated additional funds to support people with their essential needs. The partners built a bridge between response, recovery, preparedness, and more resilience.

Cordaid and its local partners in the Philippines, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have succeeded to:

  • reach almost 118,000 people with COVID-19 awareness raising and prevention activities.

  • support 59 handwashing facilities with clean water and soap.

  • provide 1,500 community (health) workers and volunteers with essential personal protective equipment.

  • provide 22,734 households with livelihood support, non-food items and food.

  • involve 48 civil society partner organisations to strengthen their disaster management capacity to respond to COVID-19 and other emergencies.

Key highlights South-East Asia: Food and health

In Mandaue city, the Philippines, the project supported 250 poor households, by training people to produce organic pesticides and fertilizers and to produce and prepare healthy food. A total of 1,990 people benefited from increased food availability through these activities.

In Indonesia, the project provided people with protective equipment and food items. Local tailors produced and distributed over 10,000 linen face masks. In Indonesia’s capital Yogyakarta, people also received seeds to plant their own vegetables.

Key highlights Africa: from awareness to resilience

In Uganda, radio stations and TV shows aired messages to raise awareness about COVID-19 and prevention measures, along with weather forecasts, agricultural advise, and market information to enhance the population’s climate resilience.

In Kenya, many activities evolved around water, sanitation and hygiene, in line with the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines of the World Health Organisation. Households with 300 men, women and children received 50 tip-taps. In remote and neglected areas without access to clean water, local partners placed 9 reservoir tanks of 2,000 litres.

In the south of Ethiopia, Cordaid’s country team planned awareness raising activities, supported health professionals in managing infectious diseases and provided protective equipment.