People in Need launches “SOS Pandemic,” a fundraiser to help those hardest hit by COVID-19

People in Need launches “SOS Pandemic,” a fundraiser to help those hardest hit by COVID-19

May 20, 2020

To help people in the world’s poorest countries grapple with the effects of COVID-19, People in Need (PIN) has launched a new fundraiser called “SOS Pandemic.” The money raised will be used to provide long-term assistance in developing countries where fallout from the pandemic, such as hunger, malnutrition, and the loss of livelihoods has the potential to be more devastating than the disease itself.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we focused on helping people in the Czech Republic who ran into existential and financial troubles,” says PIN Executive Director Šimon Pánek. “We extended our debt advisory service, supported children who lacked access to the internet so that they could continue their education, and provided food aid packages to those in need.”

“However,” Panek adds, “COVID-19 will have far-reaching consequences for people living in developing countries, especially those struggling with armed conflicts or natural disasters. The lives of hundreds of millions of people will be threatened as they lose their livelihoods. We will carry on with our work at home, but at the same time, we cannot forget about the rest of the world. We believe that we ought to, for as long as we are able, join in the efforts of those helping the most vulnerable people in the developing world.”

The number of people suffering from hunger may double

According to the United Nations, the number of people suffering from hunger globally due to COVID-19 may double by the end of the year, potentially reaching 265 million. In Syria, for instance, the devaluation of the Syrian pound has tripled since the beginning of the year, causing prices to rise astronomically, with the result that many people cannot afford staple foods. In addition to launching a quick response and providing the most basic necessities, long-term support as well as local knowledge are critical for helping the most affected people in developing countries. PIN has been working in development assistance for several decades, and we can employ this experience to help in the current crisis.

Jan Mrkvička, Director of the Department of Relief and Development at PIN, says that PIN’s global response to the pandemic includes programs such as food and hygiene kit distribution, job creation, and COVID-19 awareness-raising campaigns. “Around the world, people are at risk of starvation or of falling prey to debt traps,” he says. “To support the world’s poorest longer-term, we have been working hard to help them gain more independence during these challenging times.” 

In addition to the response in the Czech Republic, PIN is actively involved in coronavirus-related activities in Africa, Asia, and Europe, including in Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia, and Ukraine. Moreover, our existing humanitarian aid programs in 20 countries have been adjusted and expanded to respond to COVID-19, and we have introduced preventive measures to help curb the spread of the disease.

We are working to stem the spread of COVID-19 among displaced people in Syria

For example, in Syria, where armed conflict has been raging for 10 years, we are working to stem the spread of COVID-19 among people displaced by fighting and are providing this vulnerable population with food, hygiene packages, and disinfectants. We have also set up special isolation rooms for the sick, and are working to ensure that PIN-supported schools, bakeries, and education centres are cleaned and disinfected regularly. 

In Mongolia, the pandemic has kept children from attending schools and, as a consequence, children from poorer families have been deprived of school lunches, often the only source of nutrition for school-aged children. PIN has provided these children with food packages, along with school supplies and materials for maintaining good hygiene.

And in Ethiopia, where the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is rising, PIN field workers have been ensuring the availability of functional water infrastructure, which is crucial for combatting COVID-19. Additionally, we have been delivering protective equipment such as hand gels, face masks, and gloves to local health centres and other organisations.

“Over the coming months, PIN will support the efforts of developing countries to improve and strengthen their health care infrastructure, as well as to diagnose and treat patients,” says Richard Walker, PIN Regional Director for Africa. “To date we have been focusing on food provision, access to clean drinking water, hygiene, and support for people’s livelihoods. We are convinced that this is the way to mitigate the negative and long-term impacts of the pandemic.” 

As the world moves beyond the initial phase of the coronavirus response, solutions to protecting the most vulnerable will require years of hard work. PIN’s “SOS Pandemic” fundraiser is designed to ensure these needs can be met over the long-term. A donation of just 11 euros (300 CZK) enables us to purchase 100 bars of soap for internally displaced people in Syria, or 1.5 litres of disinfectant for health care centres in Ethiopia. 

SOS Pandemic
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Author: People in Need