COVID-19: Field updates from our partners

The COVID-19 contagion is having unprecedented impacts on our human family.

In many parts of the Global South, the pandemic is stretching already meagre resources and exacerbating the problems caused by poverty, hunger, climate change and political instability. Yet, societies are also responding with remarkable solidarity, resourcefulness and resilience.

This newsfeed provides updates on how Development and Peace’s partners are helping vulnerable communities around the world cope with the coronavirus crisis.

 

3 weeks ago

Denouncing despotism in Honduras

In Honduras, where there have been 1,270 confirmed cases of and 93 deaths due to COVID-19, the government has declared a state of emergency and most economic activity has ground to a halt. Instead of serving exclusively as a means of containing the pandemic, however, the lockdown has begun being used to sinister and nefarious ends.

Development and Peace’s partner, the Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC), promotes food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture and human rights in the poorest rural regions of the country. Alarmed at how the pandemic is impacting upon its work and that of other rights and solidarity organizations, CEHPRODEC has issued a dauntless and definitive denunciation of recent government actions.

CEHPRODEC’s open letter is a clarion call for the fairer distribution of state aid; for an end to the intimidation of human rights defenders; for improved access to justice; and for closer monitoring of the treatment of environmental and rights defenders at the hands of state security forces.

For details, see the original Spanish text of CEHPRODEC’s open letter or read its machine-generated English translation.

An environmental defence committee inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, meets in Gualaco in the Honduran department of Olancho.

1 month ago

Doubly defenceless: COVID-19 strikes communities already reeling from mining in Peru

In early April, Development and Peace’s partner, Centro Labor, launched its United Against the Coronavirus solidarity campaign in the Pasco region of central Peru.

In this region, where mining has a long colonial and corporate history, many communities are deeply affected by the extractive industries’ activities. Chronic pollution has caused families to suffer from astonishingly high levels of heavy metals in their blood streams. This toxicity has weakened their immune systems, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

To help them weather the pandemic, Centro Labor has quickly adapted its activities and is now distributing food to the poorest and most affected families in Pasco. These distribution drives are also being used as avenues to disseminate information about essential preventive and protective measures including quarantining, physical distancing handwashing and wearing masks.

This campaign is possible thanks to your donations to Development and Peace, which allow our partners to continue their activities and adapt in these times of pandemic.

1 month ago

Battling disease and denial in Brazil

After dismissing COVID-19 as “a little flu” and sacking his dissenting health minister, President Jair Bolsonaro joined street demonstrations against lockdowns aimed at containing the pandemic. Meanwhile, more than 40,000 Brazilians have contracted the disease and over 2,500 have died from it, accounting for over half of South America’s COVID-19 death toll.

Worryingly, the pandemic has reached remote populations whose vulnerabilities are intensified by poverty and deficient healthcare. At least one death has been reported among the Mura of Manaus, an Indigenous community at the focus of our For our Common Home campaign.

Piquiá de Baixo perfectly illustrates how the pandemic exacerbates existing crises. Already suffering decades of industrial pollution, the Maranhão community was struck by torrential rains last month, which breached a local dam, destroyed houses and displaced hundreds of people.

Observing physical distancing and donning protective gear, small teams from our partner, Justiça nos Trilhos, are helping rebuild homes and educating the community about COVID-19 and hygiene. An expert is also visiting weekly to provide psychosocial support.

Across Brazil, our various grassroots partners are:

  • Working from home and only meeting online as far as possible
  • Observing strict hygiene and distancing protocols when in-person contact is unavoidable
  • Conducting public education using posters, social media and podcasts
  • Countering misinformation from government and corporate sources
  • Campaigning for better healthcare, social services and lockdown measures for Indigenous communities
  • Supporting the anti-pandemic efforts of local governments that are acting more responsibly than the centre
  • Calling for a moratorium on mining, logging and industrial agriculture in protected areas and Indigenous communities
1 month ago

Taking precautionary action in Bangladesh

COVID-19, which has already infected 88 people and killed eight in Bangladesh, poses a serious risk to the country’s million or so Rohingya refugees and their host communities.
To prepare people for the pandemic, our partner, Caritas Bangladesh has distributed 114,080 leaflets and 400 posters containing government- and WHO-issued health and safety information to 225,000 people. It has also:

  • Furnished its offices with hygiene supplies
  • Released emergency funds to local offices
  • Formed national, regional and local coronavirus vigilance committees
  • Cancelled most meetings, gatherings and travel
  • Ordered staff returning from overseas to self-isolate
  • Instituted work-from-home regimes
  • Provided centralized information and support resources to staff
  • Reorganized rotas to minimize fieldwork

In Cox’s Bazar, Caritas Bangladesh has had to suspend almost all activities in refugee camps until at least April 14. Soap and water for handwashing have been provided at camp entrances. Small work teams trained in safety procedures are continuing to distribute monsoon-proofing kits and supervise basic infrastructure upkeep and upgrading with due regard to physical distancing.

2 months ago

Development and Peace's partners in Haiti preparing to respond

As soon as the first coronavirus tests came back positive in Haiti, Development and Peace's partners took steps to reduce human contact. Most are continuing some activities in their areas of intervention, with certain restrictions, of course. Emmanuel Noël, Development and Peace’s project oversight officer in Haiti, offers an overview of our partners’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
2 months ago

Preparing for the pandemic in Somalia

On March 16, 2020, Somalia’s health ministry identified the country’s first COVID-19 case in the capital, Mogadishu. International flights were soon suspended and, as was being done in several countries, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced the closure of educational institutions and the cancellation of public events and gatherings.

In the Gedo region, our partner, Trocaire, quickly put in place measures to protect local communities from the coronavirus, while maintaining essential healthcare; food and water; sanitation and hygiene; and public protection services.

Standards-compliant isolation facilities are being prepared and essential facilities have been secured for staff and patients. Working with the national ministry of health, the World Health Organization and other local partners, Trocaire has trained more than 60 community influencers to promote good hygiene practices in communities.

2 months ago

Providing frontline healthcare in Lebanon

In Lebanon, where a financial crisis has constrained healthcare capacity and where multigenerational family structures and a large refugee population make physical distancing difficult, COVID-19 poses a grave threat. The pandemic has already affected 248 people and claimed four lives. 
 
Development and Peace’s partner, Caritas Lebanon, is actively monitoring the situation and collaborating with the World Health Organization and the health ministry. Three of its staff members have received COVID-19 safety training and are imparting these skills to others. 
 
Caritas Lebanon’s health centres have implemented protocols for identifying and isolating people presenting with COVID-19 symptoms; using personal protective equipment; and disinfecting spaces. Staff are trained in respiratory hygiene, handwashing and social distancing and have access to an internal helpline. Following strict safety measures, an emergency response unit is distributing food kits to communities affected by COVID-19. 
2 months ago

Decentralizing solidarity in the Philippines

Weeks before the Philippine government declared a “state of calamity,” Development and Peace’s partners were restricting in-person meetings and curtailing non-essential field work. Now, their staff are working from home, contending with limited public transportation or having to isolate themselves for fear of having contracted COVID-19. 

To ensure that vulnerable people receive the help they need in these difficult circumstances, Caritas Philippines is decentralizing the distribution of aid. Instead of coordinating humanitarian work centrally, it is asking parishes and dioceses affected by COVID-19 to set up “Kindness Stations” at the barangay (village/ward) level. 

At these stations, people are encouraged to take what they need, spare some for others and give what they can of basic essentials. By facilitating solidarity, our partners are thus helping communities cope with one of the worst crises in recent memory. 

2 months ago

Empowerment through information in Ecuador

Development and Peace’s Ecuadorean partners, the Latin American Association of Popular Education and Communication (ALER) and the Latin American Information Agency (ALAI), promote peace, good governance and active citizenship by disseminating socially relevant information. 

As a coalition of community radio stations, ALER is responding to the COVID-19 crisis by broadcasting special programming to hispanophone audiences in South America. Their broadcasts provide accurate information, dispel myths, relay important public health messages, promote community solidarity and offer advice on coping with the coronavirus pandemic. 

As an organization dedicated to the democratization of information, ALAI is creating and distributing content that helps people contextualize the pandemic and its intersection with issues of social, economic and gender justice.