CARE’s COVID-19 response: Why working together is crucial

A distribution by CARE and partners in the Philippines

Our favourite photo from the COVID-19 response so far is this one – where Star Wars stormtroopers are helping teams in the Philippines pass out food packs, gloves, and masks to first responders, essential workers, and families in need. Maybe we’re not quite at the point of needing inter-galactic help yet, but it reminds us of a critical truth about the COVID-19 pandemic:

None of us can do it alone. We must respond together.

Partnership – traditional, creative, and completely new – has been a cornerstone of CARE’s response to COVID-19. We’re working differently than we ever have before, and learning to find new ways – and new partnerships – to get the job done.

As of 8 June, CARE has reached 9.2 million people directly in 57 countries. We’ve helped more than 1.6 million people access clean water, a little over 1 million received hygiene kits, and nearly 1 million get access to food. We’re also helping people get better information – with more than 5.3 million getting direct training, and 134.2 million accessing information about COVID-19 through mass media that CARE is supporting.

This is how we’re doing it.

Prioritising partnership

Partners are key to all of this. 95% of CARE’s country teams are coordinating with other humanitarian actors. 55% of country teams are partnering directly with women-led organizations. 38 country offices are providing technical assistance – supporting partners and governments to improve their responses.

Finding partners who know the communities

In Honduras, CARE is working with churches, local authorities, and feminist organisations to reach different areas and groups of people who are most affected by COVID-19. In Somalia, CARE has opened Whatsapp groups for 458 schools and partners to share crucial information on access to crisis support. CARE Ecuador has been organising forums on issues of national importance with other organisations, and then using that information to create policy recommendations for the government.

Supporting young people to get involved

In Georgia, youth groups in the Mestia project initiated local charity fundraising and a distribution campaign to support elderly and disabled people. In Sudan, CARE is working with youth community leaders to help with awareness-raising and social mobilisation in prevention, protection and investigation measures, especially in remote locations. In Niger, young people are helping to conduct needs assessments, so we know how to build a better response.

Sharing the tools that work

In Ecuador, CARE built a new digital platform to transfer cash to people who need it – without the need for payment cards or other contact with CARE that is risky right now. CARE is letting other NGOs that need to deliver multipurpose cash transfers to use this platform so they don’t have to build new ones.

Communicating widely

In Nepal, CARE produced a radio public service announcement on gender-based violence in cobranding with the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens. In Vanuatu, CARE worked with various projects to create a COVID Household Booklet including messaging on gender-based violence and family financial messaging – which we have made available for others to use.

In Ghana, we’ve been translating health messages into local language voice recordings so that non-literate people can hear messages in the language that works for them. In Indonesia, we’ve been giving people stickers with pictures of handwashing that they can take home – because they can’t always remember details of the billboards posted in markets. In Burundi, we’ve been sending hundreds of thousands of text messages to women in savings groups, and answering their questions if they write back in.

Thinking about the private sector

In Bangladesh, the CARE team is working with Skilled Health Entrepreneurs – women in the private sector who charge a small fee for delivering health messages and supplies. 84% of these women are getting free health insurance coverage from Digital Health Solution to protect both them and their patients. In Ecuador, CARE is leading a team of three organisations that are getting money from Ecuadorian businesses to support people in need. In Sri Lanka, Manussakama Pure Water (which is a social enterprise that CARE supports) is selling innovative handwashing basins made from oil drums.

Working with gatekeepers

In Zimbabwe, Sudan, and several other countries, we are working work with local power-holders, like the local government, traditional chiefs, community elders, and others, to ensure that we can reach people across their communities.

Working with governments

In Malawi, the government is partnering with CARE to conduct a rapid gender analysis so they can build a national response that supports women. In Bangladesh, the team coordinated the Bangladesh national needs assessment process for COVID-19. In Burkina Faso, health centres are training and supporting community-based health workers to educate others about COVID-19. In Rwanda, the government has mobilised 400 health workers to start contact tracing. And in countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sudan, and others, governments are re-classifying humanitarian workers as essential staff who can continue their work and support the people who need it most.

In Sierra Leone, CARE has taken a lead role within the Emergency Operations Centre with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone and for the city of Freetown. In Thailand, CARE staff are serving as hotline focal points for COVID-19 information in Myanmar and Cambodian languages. In Sudan, CARE is helping the Ministry of Health access masks and gloves for crucial medical services. In Bangladesh, CARE is supporting local administration to set up isolation centres for suspected cases of COVID-19, and build hand-washing facilities in different crowded locations. In India, the CARE team built the information management system that state governments are adopting as their own to manage COVID-19 information.

Please help CARE to support even more people and communities to respond together to the COVID-19 crisis:

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.