Health worker measuring child's arm to check for under nutrition

Fighting coronavirus around the world

We're committed to responding to COVID-19 in the countries where we work, while continuing our global fight against hunger. 

By Action Against Hunger

May 16 2020

COVID-19 has affected nearly every country in the world, and no community has been prepared to deal with the pandemic. Coronavirus, high rates of serious malnutrition, low access to basic WASH services, and weak health systems will become a deadly combination in many developing countries.

Around the world, we’re responding to this pandemic, supporting health centres, raising awareness about how to prevent outbreaks, and providing essential supplies ranging from medicine and hygiene kits to PPE.

We’re also committed to continuing our fight against hunger, so we're keeping our programmes running through this new crisis. Even with travel restrictions and lockdowns, we’re in some of the hardest to reach places ensuring children and their families receive the vital care they need. 

According to the United Nations, the number of people globally suffering from acute food shortages could nearly double in the next year due to COVID-19 and its economic impact. In East Africa, food insecurity could double in just the next three months.

Here's how we're responding to the COVID-19 all around the world.

Bangladesh

In Cox’s Bazar – the area of Bangladesh that hosts more than 850,000 displaced Rohingya – Action Against Hunger provides essential nutrition and mental health services. With crowded conditions and poor access to water and safe sanitation, a serious outbreak of COVID-19 could be devastating.

Our teams are working hard to share information on infection prevention, good hygiene and sanitation practices, and other ways to stay healthy. In our nutrition and health facilities, we are training staff in infection prevention and control measures and attempting to reduce crowds. We’re also expanding access to safe water, proper waste management, and soap supplies in health facilities, collective shelters, and in communities.

Working with a team of psychologists and local partners, we provide telephone follow-up to manage cases of COVID-19 and to provide psychosocial support. Our teams are also going door-to-door to distribute food to the most vulnerable families. We have also installed dozens of handwashing stations within refugee settlements.

Somalia

Somalia, a country that is still dealing with the devastating effects of the recent drought, floods, locust infestation and conflict, is preparing for the worst. The threat of the disease spreading rapidly in the country, will put the most vulnerable communities most at risk.

Our team in Somalia is already working with various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, health facilities, and vulnerable communities, as part of our prevention plan in the country. 

We’re expanding our healthcare services to manage cases of COVID-19. With several private hospitals shutting down due to fears of the virus, we are ramping up support of health centers, treatment facilities, and isolation wards. To manage these operations we're procuring medical supplies and equipment, including testing kits, and hygiene products. We’re also making sure key health centres are fully stocked with face masks and gloves. We’re also introducing new social distancing measures, asking mothers to stand apart when waiting for appointments for their children. 

Our teams are supporting the government’s emergency operations with vehicles, emergency staff, and contact tracing in Mogadishu. We are also raising awareness about COVID-19 through mass media, text messages, and local radio stations.

South Sudan

If COVID-19 spreads to South Sudan, the crisis could push the country to its brink. An outbreak will be extremely challenging to contain.

Action Against Hunger’s teams – many of whom have extensive experience in dealing with Ebola, cholera, and other epidemics – are doing everything they can to prepare for and prevent a pandemic. We have expanded our hygiene and sanitation programmes to educate more people about the importance of handwashing. We’re introducing social distancing measures, asking patients to stay two metres apart as they wait for appointments. We have set up isolation rooms in our health centres for our workers who may be exposed. We’re also training our staff on how to stay safe while continuing to treat people in vulnerable communities.

Yemen

In Yemen, only about a half of the country’s health facilities are operational and two-thirds of the population have no access to basic healthcare. The potential spread of the coronavirus could be catastrophic for health and for food security. Limited availability of testing kits makes it difficult to know how extensively the virus has spread in Yemen.

Action Against Hunger's teams in the country are supporting health facilities by delivering water in some of the most vulnerable communities, creating safe cash transfer zones, delivering hygiene and disinfection kits, and hosting hygiene sessions to promote practices to prevent the spread of disease, especially in communities where access to water is limited.

Haiti

For nearly a decade, Action Against Hunger has been leading the fight to eradicate cholera in north western Haiti – today, those same teams are helping to control the spread of COVID-19. With UNICEF, we are scaling up our work to prevent COVID-19 and rolling out emergency responses in the North-West and Artibonite regions of the country.

Additionally, we plan to scale up our food security and livelihoods programs to help families most in need. Following years of political unrest, Haiti already faced high rates of hunger and malnutrition prior to the pandemic, and this new global economic crisis could further devastate the most vulnerable communities.  

Democratic Republic of Congo

To meet growing needs as COVID-19 spreads in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we’re supporting infection prevention and control activities in 65 health centres in the capital city of Kinshasa. We’re strengthening access to clean water, waste management, as well as training caregivers on prevention and disinfecting the premises.

Our staff have been trained to fight the virus, and all of our emergency projects in DRC have integrated new protocols to keep communities safe from the disease, including introducing social distancing measures. Our teams are also spreading messages about the coronavirus and how to prevent its spread.

Colombia

Action Against Hunger’s teams in Colombia are distributing food and cash transfers to the country’s most vulnerable and most at risk of hunger. We’re also providing water storage and treatment systems and prevention kits to families in need.

Our COVID-19 awareness campaigns are ongoing, and we continue to install handwashing sinks in public spaces. Our teams are especially focussed on helping vulnerable migrant communities, if a case of coronavirus is suspected we will make sure they are able to safely isolate.

Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, Action Against Hunger is supporting health facilities across the region. We’re scaling up our operations to train health workers and other frontline staff to prevent and refer COVID-19 cases and supporting authorities to develop cleaning and disinfection protocols, and promote sanitation and hygiene in public spaces and health centres.

Our teams also are also providing psychosocial support and nutrition programmes in smaller cities and displacement camps. As the dry season begins, we are increasing distributions of soap and water purification tablets, trucking water to communities with limited access, and running information campaigns on how to prevent the spread of disease.

India

Action Against Hunger’s teams in India are providing hygiene and food kits to vulnerable families and PPE to frontline workers in Baran, Rajasthan, Jaipur, and Madhya Pradesh.

Our teams are providing psychological support to vulnerable communities in villages we cannot safely reach during the lockdown, through phone calls and text messages. Our nutrition and health staff also continue to provide counselling to families in the same way, helping to ensure that malnourished children continue to recover, and that pregnant women and new mothers receive the support they need during these challenging times.

Jordan

Jordan has been under a strict national lockdown for several weeks - which means our teams have had to adapt their services. Face-to-face community awareness programmes have been replaced by phone calls, and our teams are now reaching out to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians over the phone to share messages about COVID-19, and how to prevent its spread.

Additionally, we will be distributing hygiene kits within refugee camps that will include cleaning gel, bleach, liquid disinfectant, cotton cleaning cloths, and plastic jugs, as well as equipment to clean communal latrines.

Cameroon

Cameroon reported its first case of coronavirus in early March. The number of people infected by the virus has now risen to 1,430, and 43 people have died. So far, the disease is confined to cities like Yaoundé, but there are fears that the virus will spread to vulnerable areas affected by conflict.

In response to the virus, forty Action Against Hunger staff are training to become contact tracers. These teams will carry out vital work in communities of the capital, Yaoundé. We’re also raising awareness around COVID-19 and are ensuring that people showing symptoms of the virus are being referred to health authorities. Depending on their condition, they are then asked to self-isolate, or are transferred to one of the four hospitals in Yaoundé able to treat this disease.

Nigeria

In Northeast Nigeria, where conflict has left more than 7 million people in urgent need of aid, Action Against Hunger is training staff and communities on COVID-19 and working closely with the Ministry of Health. We are also strengthening our water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies, protocols, and activities within our health and nutrition centers. Working with the WHO and local journalists, we've also held sessions to dispel myths about the pandemic.

The first COVID-19 cases appeared in Borno State in late April and the region has since been in lockdown. Action Against Hunger has requested authorisation from the government to continue our lifesaving activities, especially in displacement camps where an epidemic would have disastrous consequences. 

Iraq

Action Against Hunger’s staff in Iraq are primarily working from home due to a nationwide lockdown. They have adapted their services, using phone calls to contact former and current participants in our food security and water, sanitation, and hygiene programmes. The purpose of these phone calls is to raise awareness about COVID-19 prevention measures, to understand the needs of the most vulnerable families, and to offer psychosocial support. Our teams are also distributing hygiene kits in Mosul.

Chad

In Chad, Action Against Hunger’s teams are spreading the word about how to prevent COVID-19 in a variety of ways. We’re sharing messages in health centres and in communities through community groups, radio channels, and local groups to reach even more people. We’re training community health workers to deal with the new virus, and how to talk about the pandemic with the people they serve.

Additionally, we are distributing hygiene kits, mats, and mosquito nets in border regions and holding hygiene education sessions. In the coming weeks, our teams are planning to provide food assistance, strengthen health systems, install handwashing stations, train frontline health staff in diagnosis, and distribute prevention kits in health centres.

Philippines

Our teams in the Philippines are working hard to ensure families are able to maintain good hygiene practices during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re supplying vulnerable communities, who already have little access to water and sanitation, with basic hygiene kits to help stop the spread of the disease.

Pakistan

In Pakistan, especially during Ramadan, our teams are working hard to ensure that vital feeding programmes for malnourished children can continue during the lockdown. Our healthcare providers have the necessary PPE and are maintaining strict hygiene routines. We're organising sessions with partners on the correct use of protective equipment and on infection prevention and control measures. In the Sindh region, nutritional stabilisation centres and outpatient therapeutic centres remain active. We want to ensure that our work in communities does not contribute to the spread of the disease, while providing safe health services. Public health in the country is our top priority.

Action Against Hunger is closely monitoring the developments of the pandemic in the countries where we work. Following guidance from our experts, we’re putting in place measures to help these countries reduce the spread of the virus. We're also continuing with our fight against hunger, because hunger doesn’t stop for a pandemic.

Now more than ever, we must come together to respond to this new crisis as a global community.

Children washing hands to fight disease
Children washing hands to fight disease

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