As news filters in of cases of COVID-19 in many of the world’s poorest countries, Integral Members are continuing their work to serve the most vulnerable ...
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not an official Integral disaster response, we have mobilised our online disaster platform and are hosting regular calls for our Members’ programmes and fundraising staff. Our aim is to facilitate sharing on the impact for Members and their work, enabling them to learn from one another and identify where they can support each other or work together during this extremely challenging time.
As of 2nd April 2020 confirmed cases stand at 827,419 across 205 countries, areas or territories, with 40,777 deaths reported [Source here]. The Guardian newspaper headline “Coronavirus threatens to turn aid crises into ‘humanitarian catastrophes’” sums up well the seriousness of COVID-19 upon the world’s most vulnerable people [Source here].
The UN has called for solidarity and has launched an appeal for $2 billion USDs to help scale up COVID-19 response activities in vulnerable countries [Source here]. The impact of the pandemic in overcrowded displacement camps will lead to further humanitarian crises for people least able to cope. Aside from the outbreak of disease, there have been interruptions to life-saving programmes due to restrictions to slow the transmission such as a ban on movement of people and goods and access to work.
The challenges that COVID-19 presents to our Members are immense, impacting every area of their work: Programmatically: as Members respond to the impact of COVID-19 in the communities they serve, and also seek to maintain existing programming.
Fundraising impact: as Members anticipate a global recession and the impact it could have on the charitable giving that undergirds their projects.
Organisationally: as HQ staff, country offices and Partners move to virtual working where possible, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff.
Integral Members and their Partners are already working to respond by spreading public health messages, as well as preparing for a sanitation and health response to test and treat COVID-19 sufferers. They are also already considering the likely longer term impact of Coronavirus on all of their programming. Many countries are now closing down public gatherings. As markets close many will lose livelihoods. “People are not scared of the virus, they’re scared of not having food”, one of World Concern’s programme managers told us.
Integral Members’ Fundraising and Communications teams have been adjusting to running events and equipping churches virtually instead of in person. Additionally they have been checking on the wellbeing of their supporters, aware of the impact domestically as well as communicating the importance of keeping the world’s most vulnerable in our sights.
Jan Eyre, Integral’s Head of Disaster Management and Programme, says, “Countries Integral Members work in often have fragile health systems and few resources to counter the virus. Actions to slow the spread such as social distancing and isolation are hard to comply with, especially in densely populated displacement camps. Access to adequate sanitation is already a challenge for many. Our hope in bringing our Members together around this global COVID crisis is simply that we can do more together. It is vital now that we all hear our Members most pressing key message - please don’t forget the world’s most vulnerable people in the midst of this crisis that impact us all.”
Integral will continue to facilitate information sharing, with a view to increasing Member collaboration in this COVID-19 crisis. We believe that collaboration enables us to reach more people and to make the best use of our combined resources.
Photo: This photo shows the work of Integral Member Medair in Lebanon. The Medair health team is raising awareness among the community health volunteers around the coronavirus prevention activities.
© Medair/Hiba Hajj Omar