COVID-19 presents an unprecedented global crisis and as such CARE International has released over US$1,000,000 **of internal emergency funds to **support 17 of the highest risk countries around the world in combatting the pandemic.
According to Sally Austin, CARE International’s Head of Emergency Operations
“We’ve released flexible funds to support the rapid scale up and adjustment of life saving activities and allow our teams to act quickly, while we are seeking exemptions for key humanitarian actors to continue working so lifesaving assistance like food distributions can continue. The humanitarian community is supporting 100 million people around the world, and we need this work to be seen as essential. In Europe and north America supermarkets remain open so that people still have access to food, and for many of these people these food distributions are their equivalent.”
This quick release emergency fund is designed to allow CARE’s different country programmes to respond quickly and flexibly to a new humanitarian disaster such as COVID-19. Countries that will be targeted include: Philippines, South Sudan, Haiti, Palestine WBG, Northeast Syria, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Uganda Bangladesh and Nepal.
Assistance will include training and information sharing on hygiene and sanitation best practices; installing soap and handwashing stations, conducting handwashing demonstrations, and tackling barriers to good hand hygiene. In places such as Haiti CARE is also working to track and combat rumours around the virus. With restrictions on large gatherings and many staff in lockdowns across the world, CARE is finding innovative ways to provide this messaging including though mobile SMS blasts, megaphones and boom boxes, and using exiting smaller community structures.
“We need to find new modalities of delivering aid. And that is also stretching our imagination, sometimes in a good way. We are finding new ways to reach those most in need with technology, with different modalities. This crisis is allowing us to adapt quickly to a new world,”
notes Sofia Sprechmann CARE International's Programme Director.
CARE teams have also begun distributing kits of the most important hygiene and sanitation items such as soap and sanitisers in places like Philippines, Haiti, Chad and Uganda. In Myanmar CARE will extend this provision to a safe house it manages for survivors of gender-based violence. In 2 of the refugee settlements in Uganda for South Sudanese and Congolese refugees CARE will provide support frontline responders such as health workers and police staff with PPE kits.
In areas like northeast Syria CARE will work directly on water infrastructure to try and combat the virus by disinfecting water tanks, repairing and maintaining 200 handwashing facilities in and installing 50 water storage tanks.
As CARE’s Regional Director for MENA Nirvana Shawky notes on the situation in Syria:
“CARE is also carrying out much-needed distributions of hygiene kits and providing psychosocial support to people affected by the violence – women are girls are of particular concern. **CARE has placed specific focus on moving people out of collective centres (buildings used for collective and communal settlements of displaced people), where possible, and, if not, rapidly improving the water and sanitation facilities within those centres.”
In ongoing humanitarian disasters CARE, where possible, will adapt existing health and food assistance programmes to reflect the additional needs and procedures required due to the risk of coronavirus. In Haiti, for example, where around 40% of the population (over 4 million people) are already suffering from a food crisis, CARE will provide unconditional cash transfers (via electronic money transfer) to around 400 poor households to be able to buy food in the case of a total confinement. Similarly, in the Philippines, CARE will provide a 1 month’s supply of cash for food purchase to some of the most vulnerable so that they don’t need to go out and face unnecessary exposure by having to go out to work in the communities.
In South Sudan, where CARE already supports much of the country’s health infrastructure, it will strengthen health facility and community-based surveillance in relation to COVID-19 and train around 150 frontline staff in all CARE-managed health facilities and mobile response teams across 4 different counties.
“This COVID-19 situation has given us the opportunity to better work together, to come together as a team, and I have seen very quick adaptation from teams in country offices, which is a positive thing we are seeing come out of this crisis, and we need to continue to build on,”
says Claudine Awute, CARE International Regional Director for West Africa.