Crisis watch

Florentine, a young mother in Mozambique, who received assistance from CARE following drought and food shortages
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.

13 April 2020

COVID-19 response in Turkey

CARE’s main concerns for the refugee population in Turkey are meeting basic needs, access to accurate COVID-19 information, and healthcare. The majority of refugees in Turkey live below the poverty line and are dependent upon day labour in order to make ends meet. As businesses have shutdown to curb the spread of the virus, many Syrians have lost their sources of income, and are fearful of losing their homes because they are unable pay rent, as well as of being unable to meet their daily needs.

CARE’s response includes:

  • Risk communication and community engagement through a helpline and planned mass media (TV, radio, print) to prevent and mitigate risks of COVID-19
  • Distribution of hygiene products for handwashing, such as soap and hand sanitizers, to vulnerable refugee and host community members in Gaziantep, Kilis, and Şanliurfa provinces
  • Access to functioning toilets, handwashing and bathing facilities, with necessary taps, pipes, and fitting in sub-standard and hazardous housing, through cash-for-shelter programming
  • Digital platforms for capacity-building to enhance COVID-19 behaviour change; gender and protection mainstreaming is at the core of all activities
  • Provision of urgent and life-saving healthcare costs and access to rental support via cash transfer.

CARE Turkey’s Country Director Sherine Ibrahim said:

Responding to this global pandemic requires concerted efforts by government, NGOs and community members.  In our response to the COVID-crisis in Turkey, CARE is focused upon Syrian refugees as a particular vulnerable community to ensure that urgent needs are met and they do not slip into greater poverty and hardship. We remain concerned about the direct, as well as indirect impact of this pandemic, including food and income insecurity, increased social tensions, and undetected incidence of violence against women and girls. Our current response in Turkey strives to mitigate these risks and protect the most vulnerable people in Turkey.

8 April 2020

COVID-19 in East, South and West Africa

Emma Taylor Ngungi, CARE Regional Director for East Central and Southern Africa, reports:

In this region we work in a number of chronic and complex crises with extremely vulnerable and food insecure communities, so continued support to enable those existing programmes is really critical, and support to adapt these programmes and still fulfil our mandate in an age of COVID. In the Greater Horn alone 24.7 million people are severely food insecure and 15 million people in the DRC are in need from humanitarian assistance and are recovering from Ebola.

Climate-related disasters are still going to continue during all this – the current weather forecasts for the region are very poor, and we’re likely to see an increase in the desert locusts problem in Eastern Africa. So, we are really seeing an incredible combination of factors in this region.

Joyce Sepenoo, Country Director for CARE Benin & Togo, reports:

If international NGOs start suspending their operations [due to COVID-19] the situation will be dire for those currently experiencing conflict in the Lake Chad region, in Burkina Faso and Mali that are already in humanitarian crisis and need all the assistance they can get.

We are looking at how to adapt our operations in the time of COVID-19, to be more innovative with the use of mobile banking for example, private sector and virtual solutions in order to continuously keep operations going. We [also] need to be open to ideas coming from communities, especially women, so as to adapt and maintain current programmes.

Claudine Awute, CARE International Regional Director for West Africa, says:

I have seen very quick adaptation from CARE teams in country offices, which is a positive thing we are seeing come out of this crisis, and we need to continue to build on.

8 April 2020

Vanuatu: Cyclone Harold

A Category Five storm, Tropical Cyclone Harold passed over Vanuatu on 7 April and caused widespread destruction in the centre and north of the country. The northern provinces of Sanma, Malampa and Penama are most affected with the cyclone directly passing over many islands in these provinces. This has caused widespread destruction to housing, crops and food gardens. The affected islands are largely populated by dispersed, rural communities with challenging logistics, limited services and infrastructure and communities who live in traditional housing vulnerable to wind damage and whose livelihoods largely depend on subsistence gardening and markets. There will be a need for a massive relief effort and the disaster will take a long time to recover from.

CARE will deliver immediate relief assistance to address the basic life-saving needs of the communities including emergency shelter, water and sanitation equipment, and emergency food supplies. We will have a strong focus on making sure shelter can be restored to families and that women and children are protected in this crisis. As an immediate action, CARE Australia has despatched 800 hygiene kits and 1,000 tarps for shelter from its Disaster Response Depot in Brisbane.