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Innovation in times of crisis: War Child annual report 2020

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War Child Supports Record Number of Children in Year of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has left no-one untouched. Yet, the fallouts are particularly acute in the countries where War Child is present. Children have become more exposed to a number of grave threats to their safety - in particular physical violence and COVID-19 transmission. The psychological burden they carry is immense and often overlooked in emergency settings. Across 2020, War Child explored new and innovative ways to meet these challenges head on - and these efforts are made manifest in their Annual Report.

2020 wasn’t only the year of the pandemic. In the midst of COVID-19, a rise in extreme weather events and a series of unprecedented crises including the explosions in Beirut, War Child worked tirelessly to adapt their programmes and put their new ‘Fast Aid’ framework into action. Find out how they were able to reach a record number of children through this framework in their new Annual Report.

War Child in 2020

War Child met the urgent needs of 293,681 children and adults over the course of 2020. Through our COVID-19 emergency response, we were able to reach some 5.9 million more.

The international NGO delivered remote education and child protection among underserved communities in 16 countries. In the occupied Palestinian territory, War Child harnessed everything from WhatsApp to social media to provide stress reduction tools to children and families living in isolation.

Despite major challenges to their research studies, teams across the organization demonstrated endless flexibility to maintain their promise to children. The successful pilot of the Community Case Detection Tool (CCDT) - a tool to detect mental health problems in children - with fisherman communities in eastern Sri Lanka was one such highlight. Follow-up interviews with youth, caregivers and community members were conducted entirely online.

The innovative nature of War Child’s award-winning EdTech programme Can’t Wait to Learn proved vital in their ability to adapt in times of crisis. In Lebanon, teams of facilitators enabled access to educational content via mobile phones, TV sets and USB sticks - and delivered hundreds of tablet devices to children at home.

A fresh focus for War Child - they worked with new and existing partners to protect strained food and sanitation resources and introduce COVID-19 awareness-raising and water, sanitation and hygiene components - all in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance. With the help of local celebrities such as Afrobeat star Check-B Magic in South Sudan, they took their message over the airwaves - reaching many more children than would have otherwise been possible.

Facing a New Era of Humanitarian Crisis - Together

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many grave threats to the safety and wellbeing of millions of children worldwide - particularly those already living with the effects of armed conflict. The need for humanitarian organisations to innovate their practices and expand their reach is therefore more important than ever.

“We simply cannot do this alone”, says War Child’s outgoing Managing Director Tjipke Bergsma. “We are learning but we can do better if we listen more closely to our communities, partners and colleagues.”

True to word - 2021 will see significant effort undertaken to both strengthen and expand War Child’s global network of individuals, partner organisations and governments to bring quality programming to scale wherever urgent needs arise. Their revised advocacy ambition will support these efforts - with a specific focus on data collection as a means to reveal the scale of the youth mental health crisis alongside an accelerated call for free and fair access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Bergsma: “The vaccine may be on its way, but where does an unregistered child in a refugee camp fit in?”

For all the facts, figures and stories behind War Child’s work, the Annual Report is available now to read in full.