Crisis watch

The explosion the port of Beirut has caused massive destruction to buildings and infrastructure, as well as destroying crucial food supplies stored at the port
6 May 2020

Somalia: 60% of those tested are testing positive for COVID-19

Somalia has seen an unprecedented surge of deaths in recent days with this number likely to be even higher than reported due to lack of COVID-19 testing. Somalia has recorded 756 COVID-19 cases, including 35 deaths, as of 5 May, however, CARE is particularly worried by the fact that around 60% of those being tested are testing positive for the virus – a figure higher than much of the rest of the world. Abdi Nur Elmi, CARE Somalia Emergency Director, says:

The numbers of people being tested for the coronavirus in Somalia remain low, but the worrying trend that we are seeing is that over 60% of people being tested are coming back positive for the virus. This is much higher than in European countries or the US.

While there are of course a number of reasons why this may be the case, it is still extremely worrying in a country where less than 20 per cent of the health facilities have the required equipment and supplies to manage an outbreak this is extremely worrying news.

Somalia is already one of the world’s most vulnerable countries with over 2.6 million internally displaced people living in 2,000 overcrowded sites, with poor access to safe drinking water, clean latrines and hygiene kits including soap and more than 1.2 million people suffering from food insecurity. Coronavirus coming on top of this risks reversing the many hard-won gains achieved over the last decade across the country. 

  • CARE plans to reach over 2 million people with awareness raising and communication, bulk SMS messaging, radio and TV talk shows, provision of supplies including non-food items for hygiene and sanitation and installation of handwashing facilities at targeted health facilities. Community awareness programs through TV and radio shows are ongoing and as of the end of April CARE Somalia had already reached 1.2  million people with critical COVID awareness and prevention messages.
  • CARE is also continuing to support the Somali education system directly or through partners including local community network – community hygiene promoters, GBV focal persons, Community Education committees.
24 April 2020

West Africa: COVID-19 and food crisis

Many of West Africa’s most vulnerable and conflict-affected countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria have now declared states of health emergency or confinements as a result of COVID-19. Protracted conflict already means many people weren’t able to access their fields to grow and harvest food, and has led to food shortages in markets. Now the impact from COVID-19 is worsening and increasing food and nutrition insecurity for millions more. An estimated 17 million people across West Africa will need food and nutrition assistance during the upcoming June–August lean season.

Given their contribution to food production and preparation, their role in society as child bearers and caregivers, and the high number of female-headed households in West Africa, women are also particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

In order to avoid a food and nutrition crisis in the immediate term, the COVID response must address food and nutrition security as well as helping to prevent the spread of the virus, particularly among the most vulnerable and those in extreme poverty, including women and girls. Livelihood support, particularly for small-scale farmers, is critical to avoid a medium-term or longer-term food and nutrition crisis.

CARE’s response includes sensitisation/risk communication about COVID-19, WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) support, gender-based violence prevention and response, health, food security, and cash and voucher support. We will also be working through our long-running VSLA (village savings and loan associations) programme, which supports resilience, self-sufficiency and solidarity among primarily women-led community groups. VSLA groups in crisis settings have previously proved a valuable support for women and their families coping with protracted conflict, displacement and economic hardship as well as being an important platform for promoting solidarity between displaced women and those from host communities.

23 April 2020

CARE’s global COVID-19 response

In total, CARE and our partners are currently undertaking specific activities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in 63 countries around the world. To date, we have reached 2.6m with COVID-specific or adapted programmes. We have directly reached nearly 2 million people with hygiene messaging, 600,000 with hygiene kits, and 773,000 with increased access to water, 114,000 with food or cash/voucher support, and 23,000 with handwashing stations. Key approaches used include behavioural change communications (57 countries), in kind assistance (44 countries), cash (26 countries ), technical assistance (32 countries) and advocacy (26 countries).

20 April 2020

COVID-19 response in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

CARE is providing water, sanitation and hygiene support through distributing hygiene kits for household level prevention and installation of handwashing stations at marketplaces and health facilities of Cox’s Bazar district. Within the Rohingya refugee camps, initiatives include setting up handwashing points in Women and Girls’ Safe Space, door to door handwashing and personal hygiene training sessions, distributing awareness raising posters and leaflets (see below), and training on wearing PPE for frontline staff.

Bangladesh COVID-19 awareness poster

16 April 2020

COVID-19 response in Somalia

Somalia comes top of the INFORM Global Risk Index with a vulnerability score of 8.9 out of 10. This makes it the country with the weakest capacity in the world to cope with the added stress of a pandemic such as COVID-19.

The closure of schools has left more than 1.3 million children with no access to education, eroding the gains that have been made over the years to ensure Somali children receive education without interruption. This is in addition to the 3 million school-aged children who are not enrolled in schools in Somalia. Iman Abdullahi, CARE Somalia/Somaliland Country Director, said:

Our teams on the ground have met children who are afraid if they will ever go back to school again or enjoy their childhood with friends and relatives.

Social gatherings are central to CARE’s education programming which is based in schools and within communities. We have had to pause some programming but are currently continuing activities where possible, and adapting others to the new situation. Some adaptations/new activities include:

  • use of phones and radio (eg by teachers to deliver lessons, surveys and tests; for programme staff to coach teachers and facilitators; to communicate with Women Mentors and Girls Empowerment Forum leaders)
  • new peer-to-peer radio show for girls to talk about their fears around COVID and potential learning losses, to empathise, connect and reinforce social bonds to prevent and reduce distress (since they are previously vulnerable), to share coping strategies and hear positive stories/performances (poetry readings, songs etc.) that can provide reassurance and comfort, and to share essential information/present themselves as youth leaders who can advise their families thus working on changing social norms. Essentially this will be creating a child friendly space – much like we would in a camp, but through radio. Appropriate safeguarding practices will be followed (eg not revealing personally identifying information).

CARE also aims to reach at least 15% of the estimated 15 million Somali population with awareness raising and communication, bulk SMS messaging, radio and TV talk shows, provision of supplies including non-food items for hygiene and sanitation, and installation of handwashing facilities in Mogadishu and Hargeisa which have already reported cases.