What People in Need is doing to aid global COVID-19 response effortsApr 3, 2020
COVID-19 is influencing every aspect of our lives. Schools are closed, citizens are on lockdown, and entire industries are “switched off.” The Czech Republic, like many countries in Europe and around the world, has come to standstill as the number of people infected with COVID-19 continues to rise, stretching health systems and economies to the maximum. But even though this crisis continues to rage, by working together, people in the Czech Republic, Europe, and other parts of the industrialized world with advanced medical infrastructure will eventually prevail.
Others, however, may not be so lucky.
- WHAT IF you were displaced several times due to fighting during the last nine years in Syria? How would you practice social distancing with 10 other people in your tent in a crowded camp with thousands of refugees? How would you wash your hands and ensure proper hygiene with just 20 liters of water for your family in an entire day? How will bombed-out hospitals deal with a COVID-19 outbreak?
- WHAT IF COVID-19 reaches eastern Ukraine, where a million elderly people represent more than 30% of those in need after six years of fighting?
- WHAT IF COVID-19 erupts in remote communities in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where health systems are extremely weak or non-existent, and even soap is a luxury for many?
- WHAT IF you live in Mongolia, where school and kindergarten meals, once the main source of daily nutrition for children, have vanished along with all education activities?
- WHAT IF you are attending school in war-torn country and you do not have internet to continue your education at home?
At the moment, the world’s most vulnerable are facing a long list of questions. But they are also getting some answers.
People in Need’s programs have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but our teams, working to keep themselves and beneficiaries safe, remain on the ground in many countries, responding to these WHAT IFs as best we can. Here’s how:
As the coronavirus ravages Europe, we are stepping up our efforts to protect the most economically vulnerable people and offering teachers and students online education courses. Programs include an extensive advocacy campaign focusing on mitigating the economic impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable groups. We are also advocating the government and financial institutions to postpone payment credits, limit sanctions for unpaid loans, temporarily interrupting insolvency proceedings, lowering thresholds for declaring insolvency, and cancelling debts, among other measures. We also extended our hotline to ensure loan advisors are available during this period and launched an SOS Czechia fundraiser.
PIN Slovakia has focused most of its available resources on the threat of COVID-19 in marginalized Roma communities in Slovakia. The organization is carrying out a whole set of activities, including direct work with vulnerable communities, prevention activities, and information campaigns. We are also cooperating with other organizations and local authorities, preparing for crisis scenarios, collaborating with state authorities on crisis plans, and emphasizing the security and health of residents and field workers. Apart from that, PIN’s Global Education department, together with the One World Festival, is helping to facilitate homeschooling by providing access to suitable documentary films and associated teaching materials. Finally, the organization is adapting its foreign projects to the current situation to enable the continuation of aid and relief activities. Fundraiser was launched.
We distributed hygiene, education, and food kits to 1,000 at-risk families (250 families in the first round, 750 families in the second round) during isolation caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Families also received an information leaflet on preventive measures against coronavirus. In coming days, an additional 750 children and their families will be supported with nutrition, education, and food kits. A Facebook fundraiser was also launched to support 300 more families.
We launched a messaging campaign on how to protect against coronavirus via the Early Warning System 1294 Facebook page, which is followed by 42,000 people.
We distributed awareness-raising posters on COVID-19 developed by the Ministry of Health to child friendly spaces, child protection groups, and to beneficiaries of our parenting and awareness activities in Kachin, Rakhine, Kayin, Mon states and Yangon Region.
A COVID-19 public awareness campaign has been designed and the PIN Iraq team is currently negotiating access to beneficiaries.
Hygiene awareness and sanitation is already included for all programming during assessments, distributions, and PIN-supported spaces (TVET centers, schools, bakeries, and child friendly spaces).
New methodology has been designed to move education and psychosocial support online. Additionally, schools are undergoing a sanitation campaign, and an awareness campaign is being designed with other NGOs.
Finally, we are currently designing isolation/treatment rooms in some hospitals in Northern Syria.
We created a social-media campaign on Facebook urging people to stay home. As for communication with beneficiaries, we are now relying heavily on online platforms. Due to COVID-19, people are facing various economic, psychosocial, and legal problems. To help them find support and assistance, we are preparing documents that summarize all the hotlines to help people contact relevant institutions and professionals.
We moved all in-person info sessions for grant competitions and beneficiary interviews to online platforms. Additionally, we are using our social media profiles – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – to share information on how to cope with stress and stay safe.
We are undertaking different efforts to help conflict-affected people in eastern Ukraine with COVID-19 preparedness and response.
For instance, being an active member of the WASH Cluster, PIN, together with partners, participated in drafting the guidelines on Hygiene and Cleaning Kits for institutions (such as schools, orphanages, old people’s homes, and health facilities) and a kit for quickly setting up hand washing stations in public places.To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we also prepared leaflets and posters to be distributed in the conflict area by partners operational in the field and online. These efforts are supported by robust social media campaigns.
Additionally, we are finalizing an animated video about COVID-19 and protective measures; once completed, the video will be aired on local television stations in Donbas.
PIN psychologists are providing psychosocial training to beneficiaries via webinars that allow indirect psychosocial support. As part of this project, we are recording short 3-min videos with tips and advice; these will be posted on PIN Ukraine’s Facebook page.
Finally, PIN Ukraine’s psychosocial support hotline is working 24/7.
We conducted awareness raising sessions to provide information on good hygiene as well as COVID-19 symptoms. This initiative is now part of every seed distribution conducted in Mongu District, Western Province.
We are promoting information and communication materials from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health on our Facebook page. We recreated and printed some of this material and have placed them at project sites.
PIN DRC is starting to raise awareness of COVID-19 in our beneficiary communities. These efforts include distribution of posters to rural health centers and hand-washing promotions delivered by our field staff. Measures for infection prevention and control are also being enhanced at the health center level.
In nearly every country that PIN operates, we are sharing awareness-raising messages developed by the WHO via PIN’s Facebook profiles, and have equipped our offices with COVID-19 awareness posters. Additionally, our colleagues are updated on new developments on a regular basis, and we will further adapt our programming as needed to help the poorest and most vulnerable prepare, respond, and recover from this unprecedented crisis.