As the world continues to respond to COVID-19, the situation on the ground is constantly changing. Local economies have been disrupted due to lockdowns, food security is a concern for many families, and precarious access to appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities is even more dangerous during a pandemic. While PWS&D initially supported efforts geared toward urgent action and life-saving projects through the ACT Alliance, focus has now shifted to longer-term relief projects in vulnerable communities.
In Bangladesh, where over one million Rohingya people have sought shelter from violence in Myanmar, social distancing is almost impossible in overcrowded refugee camps. In addition, access to necessary sanitation and hygiene facilities is difficult. To help prevent the spread of COVID through the camps, lockdowns have been instituted, devastating livelihood opportunities and leaving many food insecure.
In response, PWS&D is helping ensure families have access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as providing livelihoods support 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 COVID-19, humanitarian conditions in Somalia were critical due to ongoing civil conflict, leaving over 2.6 million people displaced inside the country. Public systems are viewed as too weak to effectively respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. Government instituted lockdowns have severely impacted the economy, with internally displaced people—who depend on informal jobs—hardest hit.
PWS&D is supporting ACT Alliance member, Norwegian Church Aid, to provide livelihood and water, sanitation and hygiene support. Building on long-standing relationships of trust, the project will work with church leaders, whose voices are well respected, to ensure community ownership and success.
Like Somalia, years of civil war have left South Sudan more vulnerable to COVID-19. Only 22 per cent of health facilities are fully functional, leaving almost half of the country without access to health care. To make matters worse, almost 60 per cent of the population struggles to find food daily, 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 services.
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 families fell below the poverty line due to COVID-19, presenting additional challenges to communities affected by the virus.
PWS&D is supporting ACT Alliance 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.
Much of this work has been made possible due to a generous donation by St. Andrew’s-Chalmers Presbyterian church in Uxbridge, Ontario. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the church knew that countries in the developing world would feel the effects of the pandemic more deeply. With unanimous approval from the congregation, the decision was made to gift $100,000 from a bequest the congregation had received to support PWS&D’s COVID-19 response through the ACT Alliance.
If you would like to support our ongoing work or COVID-19 response, you can do so by clicking below or by calling us at 1-800-619-7301 or 416-441-1111 x291. Please include “COVID Response” in the designation field.