COVID-19 emergency

A woman in Honduras wearing a face mask

Vulnerable families across the world are at risk from COVID-19

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We need your support today to help save lives in some of the world’s most vulnerable places.

CARE teams are currently working in 53 countries around the world to support people and communities to respond to the pandemic. We’ve provided millions of vulnerable people with hygiene kits and clean water so they can stay safe and healthy. We’re providing food and cash support to families struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic. We’re supporting health services and frontline health workers to keep their communities safe. We’re mobilising resources and expertise to support vaccination campaigns that are efficient, equitable and reach those most at risk in over 30 countries.

You could send a lifeline to families at risk. Please donate now.

Fast and fair delivery of COVID-19 vaccines

CARE is helping to ensure that more than 100 million of the most marginalised and vulnerable people – including women and girls, refugees and displaced people, those living in extreme poverty – have access to COVID-19 vaccines. We are also providing vaccines for 275,000 frontline health workers who might otherwise have been excluded. Ensuring COVID-19 vaccines quickly reach the most marginalised and hard-to-reach communities are key to bringing the pandemic under control – and ensuring that the world’s poorest people are not left behind. With your help, we can meet this historic challenge – and make important progress towards equal access to health for everyone. 

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Read more here:

People wearing masks at a food distribution in Honduras
People wearing masks at a CARE emergency food distribution in Honduras

Working with communities

CARE’s previous responses to infectious disease, such as the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa and the DRC, centred on bolstering community mobilisation activities to raise public awareness and promote safe health and hygiene behaviours. In our Ebola response we were able to engage effectively thanks to our existing community ties in countries heavily affected by the outbreak. Our response to COVID-19 similarly builds on close cooperation with community members.

Supporting women and girls

There’s no question that women are on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19, increasing their risk of contracting the virus:

  • Women as caregivers: women are the most frequent carers in families and face additional burdens caring for the sick when healthcare systems are overwhelmed, and for children when schools are closed.
  • Women as healthcare workers: about 70% of health and social workers worldwide – the backbone of an infectious disease response – are women.
  • Women as breadwinners: women are often the primary income earners for their families – and in smallholder farming communities, women often do most of the work growing crops. When they fall ill, food production can be severely impacted.

In addition, our experience providing humanitarian assistance to people affected by disasters and crises shows that women and girls face increased threats of gender-based violence during a crisis, and disruptions to crucial sexual and reproductive healthcare if healthcare resources are stretched during epidemics and pandemics.

Girl in Yemen learning proper handwashing technique
CARE community health volunteer teaching a young girl in Yemen how to wash her hands thoroughly. “Before, I wasn’t washing my hands correctly,” she says. “After CARE awareness, I wash them correctly and I have started to teach my friends.”

CARE’s response

CARE is actively responding to the COVID-19 emergency in 66 countries. We have directly helped 54.8 million people – and have also reached an estimated 262.8 million people through mass media messaging.

People helped so far include*:

  • 20.6 million people received health/hygiene messaging through direct communications involving a 2-way dialogue such as community workshops, door-to-door, or government or other service providers
  • Over 4.9 million people provided with clean water
  • More than 4.8 million people provided with hygiene kits
  • 4.3 million people provided with nutritious food to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 crisis
  • 1.2 million people provided with cash or voucher assistance to cushion the impact of COVID-19
  • More than 5.1 million people provided with updated information on gender-based violence prevention and support services
  • 2 million people receiving sexual and reproductive health services
  • 41,000 people received education services
  • 116,000 people trained in infection prevention and control
  • More than 49,000 handwashing stations installed (with soap and water)
  • Over 2,295 health facilities supported to provide health services, including sexual and reproductive health services
  • 33 countries conducting activities in support of COVID-19 vaccinations

*Numbers as of September 2021

In addition, in 63 countries CARE has completed (57 countries) or is undertaking or planning a national or regional Rapid Gender Analysis to identify the differing impacts and needs of women, girls, men, and boys. 92% of CARE countries responding to COVID-19 are fully focused on gender-based violence or are mainstreaming GBV prevention and support into other areas of their response. Nearly three in every five (60%) of countries are partnering with women-led or women-focused local partner organisations in their response.

How CARE is responding to gender-based violence

In Ecuador, rates of gender-based violence have sky-rocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic and women have struggled to access support services. In this video, CARE Ecuador’s Country Director, Alexandra Moncada, describes how CARE and partners have taken innovative steps to reach vulnerable women. Alexandra also outlines how CARE has supported refugees, sex workers, and the LGBTQI community during the crisis. Watch the video:

Find out how CARE is working with local women’s organisations in Kenya’s informal settlements to address GBV and protect survivors. Watch the video:

Examples of CARE’s immediate response include:

  • West Africa: women-led village savings groups (VSLAs) and youth groups set up by CARE are playing a key role in prevention and awareness raising activities in their communities, including organising production of PPE (personal protective equipment) materials, hand-washing devices and soaps locally.
  • Kenya: in Dadaab, we are incorporating COVID-19 prevention measures in our food distributions; providing extra soap and water to refugees, and supporting handwashing in market and health facilities in the area; engaging in messaging through radio and posters in conjunction with other partners. We also helped to set up the quarantine facilities for the three refugee camps.
  • Somalia: risk communication and awareness videos produced in the Somali language are being shown to the public. Messages on COVID-19 have also been sent out country-wide as direct messages and ringtones for local calls provided by the major telephone operators in the country. A short advert with key messages of COVID-19 prevention and detection is being aired in four local TV stations while 44 large bill boards with the same message have been installed in 18 major towns in the country. 
  • Zimbabwe: CARE has provided training on minimising COVID-19 transmission to local leaders (chiefs, headmen, councillors) and to frontline health workers (nurses and village health workers).
  • India: a digital information management system developed by CARE team members has been adopted by a state government and they are using it in their COVID-19 response. CARE India is also the first agency providing nutrition and hygiene support during the pandemic for persons living with HIV.
  • Iraq: In Sinjar, maternity units supported by CARE are continuing to provide critical healthcare and guidance for pregnant mothers and their babies at a time when curfews, lockdowns and movement restrictions are enforced. These services are highly valued by the communities.
  • Indonesia: Distribution of information materials and water tank installation in traditional markets and temporary shelters in 8 arid-land villages that have limited existing facilities and are particularly under-served by other providers.
  • Sudan: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 response, most people were not keen on following prevention and safety measures. The efforts of the CARE team in awareness-raising activities have helped in creating a visible change in people’s behaviours and practices – using face masks, maintaining social distances and supporting hand washing practices.
  • Read more about what CARE is doing to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Your support right now will help us to:

  • ensure the world’s most vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities have access to Covid vaccines
  • distribute soap and other essential hygiene items to vulnerable communities, particularly in refugee camps and settlements
  • install handwashing stations in refugee settlements and at schools, markets, and other public places 
  • increase water supply in water-scarce areas to enable handwashing and household hygiene, for example through emergency water trucking and distribution of water storage containers
  • ensure proper handwashing and sanitation knowledge reaches children, teachers, and community leaders
  • carry out targeted hygiene promotion and education, specifically focusing on transmission risks and prevention of COVID-19
  • help people access health care
  • provide cash, voucher or food support to help people whose livelihoods are affected by the pandemic
  • provide prevention, support and access to gender-based violence services

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Page updated 3 February 2022