Page 17 - PC_Fall2020
P. 17
FALL 2020
  By Karen Bokma, PWS&D Communications
As the world continues to respond to COVID-19, the situation on the ground in every country and commu- nity is constantly changing. PWS&D is responding.
Local economies have been dis- rupted due to lockdowns, food secu- rity is a concern for many families, and precarious access to appropri- ate sanitation and hygiene facilities is even more dangerous during a pandemic. While PWS&D initially supported efforts geared toward ur- gent action and life-saving projects through ACT Alliance, focus has now shifted to longer-term relief projects in vulnerable communities around the world.
In Bangladesh, where over one mil- lion Rohingya people have sought shelter from the violence in My- anmar, social distancing is almost impossible in overcrowded refugee camps. In addition, access to neces- sary sanitation and hygiene facilities is difficult. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through the camps, lockdowns have been instituted, dev- astating livelihood opportunities and leaving many food insecure.
In response, PWS&D is helping ensure families have access to wa- ter, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as providing livelihoods sup-
Using funds originally intended for other activities, partner staff in Malawi now teach community members hygiene practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
ly, leaving the country as one of the most at risk of a hunger pandemic due to coronavirus, according to the World Food Programme. PWS&D is helping ensure access to food and water, sanitation and hygiene ser- vices.
As both the Israeli and Palestinian governments struggle to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, the pandemic has halted daily life and exacerbated entrenched social inequalities. In Palestine, more than 50,000 fami- lies fell below the poverty line due to COVID-19, presenting additional challenges to communities affected by the virus.
PWS&D is supporting ACT Alli- ance member, the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, as they provide essential food and non- food items to those suffering due to COVID-19. Psychosocial support and public health messages on virus prevention will also be distributed in local languages.
Ongoing Needs in the
Midst of a Pandemic
Much of this work has been made possible due to a generous donation by St. Andrew’s – Chalmers Pres- byterian Church in Uxbridge, Ont. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the church knew that countries in the developing world would feel the ef- fects of the pandemic more deeply.
Distributions of food and hygiene kits were part of the initial COVID-19 re- sponse for many ACT Alliance members. PHOTO CREDIT: NCCP.
With unanimous approval from the congregation, the decision was made to gift $100,000 from a bequest the congregation had received to sup- port PWS&D’s COVID-19 response through ACT Alliance.
In addition to ACT Alliance COV- ID-19 relief efforts, PWS&D contin- ues to support long-term partners around the world to ensure that they can continue to serve the most vul- nerable communities. By adjusting programs to comply with social dis- tancing protocols and repurposing project funds that currently cannot be spent as intended, PWS&D continues our work to bring about a sustain- able, compassionate and just world.
To learn more and support PWS&D’s ongoing COVID-19 response, please visit
Responding to COVID-19 Globally
port and cash vouchers to those who need it most. The vouchers will help boost the local economy while also allowing families to meet their basic needs.
Long before the outbreak of COV- ID-19, humanitarian conditions in Somalia were critical due to ongoing civil conflict, leaving over 2.6 million people displaced inside the coun- try. Public systems are viewed as too weak to effectively respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. Government in- stituted lockdowns have severely im- pacted the economy, with internally displaced people—who depend on informal jobs—hardest hit.
PWS&D is supporting ACT Alli- ance member, Norwegian Church Aid, to provide livelihood and wa- ter, sanitation and hygiene support. Building on long-standing relation- ships of trust, the project will work with church leaders, whose voices are well respected, to ensure com- munity ownership and success.
South Sudan
Like Somalia, years of civil war have left South Sudan more vulnerable to COVID-19. Only 22 percent of health facilities are fully functional, leaving almost half of the country without access to health care. To make mat- ters worse, almost 60 percent of the population struggles to find food dai-
  Supporting Meals in the Middle East
 By Emma Clarke, PWS&D Communications
Many people in Yemen, Syria and other conflict-affected countries in the Middle East live each day in a constant state of fear. Since 2011, protracted civil war has torn families from the comfort of their homes. Gone are the stability of the jobs and friendships they cherished.
The enormity of the situation is staggering. In Syria, the United Na- tions reports that 6.6 million people are internally displaced. In Yemen, 80 percent of the country is in need of protection or humanitarian assis- tance. Exacerbated by the changes to the economy brought on by COV- ID-19, food insecurity continues to rise.
When a family finds themselves without food for today or tomorrow, they often resort to making incred- ibly difficult decisions. Sometimes, a
Forced to flee their home due to conflict, Mohammed and his family sheltered in a cave for months, with limited access to food. PHOTO CREDIT: ADRA.
mother or father will go days without a meal so their children can eat. “We could only afford to eat one meal a day to conserve our supplies,” re- called Mohammed, a teacher who sheltered in a cave with his family of
seven to keep safe from recurring air raids over his home in Yemen. Be- yond borrowing money or begging for food, some do what no parent wishes to do, sell family members into forced early marriage or child labour.
COVID-19 has wreaked further havoc on the limited sense of stabil- ity many internally displaced persons have. Access to markets is difficult. When people arrive at a food stall, they’re faced with elevated prices. With no work due to the pandemic and no government support system, even the basics are hard to come by.
As needs continue to mount, a little boost of food assistance can provide families with important stability and help steer them away from taking desperate measures. PWS&D’s pre- vious responses in Yemen and Syria, through Canadian Foodgrains Bank, included food baskets that made a critical difference: “One basket was
enough food to provide for my family for a whole month. It was a weight off my shoulders that I cannot describe.”
With 4:1 matching funds from the Government of Canada, PWS&D is continuing to support vital relief ef- forts in Syria and Yemen. In Syria, through Canadian Foodgrains Bank programs in partnership with World Renew and Mennonite Central Com- mittee, 7,400 families are receiving food baskets that help meet their daily needs. In Yemen, vouchers are allowing women and children from 1,150 households to buy flour, beans, oil, sugar and salt from local markets, as they require them.
When considering the extent to which this food assistance helped his family, Mohammed said, “With food basket distributions, I felt a ray of light shine on me for the first time in a long time... What may seem like a simple intervention has really changed my life.”
With assistance from PWS&D, Mohammed and his family are now receiving the food they need to survive. PHOTO CREDIT: ADRA.
PWS&D is a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church-based agen- cies working together to end global hunger.

   15   16   17   18   19