Creativity needed for the challenge of a Global Crisis

We said that we need to respond to epidemics with courage and hope. CARE teams and the people we serve have been rising to the challenge. They are adding one more critical ingredient: creativity. Around the world, as unprecedented lockdowns and shortages affect us all, people in 60 countries are using CARE programs to find ways to respond in the hardest circumstances.

In Ecuador, CARE is using emojis to help women in quarantine safely report and ask for help around Gender Based Violence. In the Philippines, local women leaders are partnering with CARE to keep markets functioning by safely delivering fresh vegetables from farms to families in crisis. In Haiti, boom boxes have become a key ingredient in raising awareness around the disease while preserving social distance.

As of April 9, CARE has reached more than 106 million people (nearly 51 million women and girls) for COVID19 response, 104 million of them in India alone. Outside of India, we were able to more than triple the number of people we were reaching with COVID response in under a week (between April 3 and April 9). We’re responding in 60 countries, despite having to work around operational restrictions in 25 countries.

Photo 1 & 2: CARE Philippines and
@ACCORD_Inc provided vegetable packs to 255 families.

What are we doing?

  • Promoting handwashing: CARE has worked with more than 1.7 million people to directly promote hygiene and handwashing. Kenya is working to get handwashing messaging to more than 491,000 people in Dadaab refugee camp. Bangladesh has worked with more than 281,000 people—especially those in the camps near Cox’s Bazaar. Sudan has reached more than 123,000 people with hygiene messages.
  • Getting people the supplies they need: CARE has already provided more than 41,000 hygiene kits, especially for refugees and people in very fragile circumstances. Afghanistan has provided more than 17,730 kits to people. Sudan is helping health centers pre-position the masks, gloves, and other supplies they need to respond to an outbreak. CARE Bangladesh, Philippines, and Somalia are all working with the government to ensure health care workers get the sanitation supplies they need.
  • Investing in infrastructure: CARE teams are setting up handwashing stations in critical areas—where we know we will be distributing cash, food, or supplies. We’re also working in places at high risk—like densely populated settlements in the Philippines, or refugee programs in Turkey—to set up housing and safe places to stay for people who are confined in quarantine. Part of this is ensuring that new shelters have handwashing spaces, clean water, and access to supplies. Bangladesh is setting up handwashing stations in crowded markets.
  • Supporting health workers: In India, CARE is working with the government to provide technical assistance in responding to CoVID 19 in Bihar and prepare for response, hygiene, and awareness raising. In Somalia, CARE has worked to train and support more than 325 health care workers to understand how to prevent and react to COVID19. The team in Palestine is working with partners to train medical teams and custodians on how to prevent COVID19, and is supporting planning and delivery of supplies in health centers. Afghanistan is expanding its work through health clinics we have supported in the past and the Kabul Women’s Association. Mozambique is continuing to rehabilitate health centers.
  • Getting people water: CARE has helped nearly 397,000 additional people get access to clean water that is so critical for good hygiene and handwashing. This has been a special focus for Myanmar.
  • Focusing on food: In the Philippines, CARE has been safely buying more than 9,000 fresh food packs of locally grown vegetables from farmers outside cities and delivering them to people in urban areas where mobility and markets are restricted every week. Haiti is adapting food security programs to give additional food vouchers to poor households who are stuck in self-isolation. Ecuador is including food kits as part of the humanitarian deliveries it coordinates with local organizations. Mozambique has prioritized delivering seeds for the agricultural season as one of its life-saving interventions.

Photo: CARE Haiti distributed food vouchers, hygiene and sanitation kits and handwashing stations to 253 households. Haiti declared its first cases of COVID-19 on March19. 

How are we doing it?

  • Prioritizing gender: CARE teams have already completed 6 Rapid Gender Analyses to understand the gendered impacts of COVID19, and has 38 more in process so we can better respond to specific contexts. In Ecuador, responding to urgent concerns about Gender Based Violence, the team has set up a virtual support mechanism, that provides orientation to prevent GBV, ensure prevention practices against COVID 19, and provides psychosocial support to persons with COVID 19, providing care to COVID 19 patients and living in quarantine.
  • Asking people what they need: Hotlines, help desks, and other ways to collect feedback and complaints have been invaluable for planning and adapting our response. In Jordan, needs assessment showed that 77% of refugees in Azraq camp and the urban areas around it wanted to get information through social media. In Turkey, a helpline set up to respond to the growing number of COVID 19 calls is helping the team target more effective information channels, answer people’s questions, and prioritize which areas need more supplies and support.
  • Communicate creatively: Somalia has worked with 3 mobile providers that support CARE’s cash transfer programs to deliver key COVID 19 messages to more than 270,000 families. They are also working with 6 radio and TV stations to distribute messages. In the Philippines, CARE is using its existing knowledge-sharing platform RILHUB to be the core library for COVID best practices for the humanitarian response. In Turkey, the team is rolling out e-learning courses for community responders on protection against COVID. Haiti is using people in cars and on bicycles with boom boxes to spread messages, as well as radio and mobile campaigns.
  • Thinking about the long term: in Indonesia, the team is anticipating potential furloughs and layoffs in the garment factories by advocating with garment factories to switch to producing much-needed masks and other protective equipment so that women garment workers can keep some income. In Somalia, CARE is working with the Ministry of Education to create a strategy for COVID-19 response in schools.