COVID-19 Emergency Response

Concern Worldwide is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic across all 23 of our countries of operation, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with frontline aid and preventative support.

COVID-19 is a humanitarian crisis

In the world’s poorest countries and communities, health systems are already weak, lack the most basic prevention and treatment equipment, and are perpetually short on healthcare workers. It’s in these areas that the impact of COVID-19 will be felt the hardest. In the communities where Concern works, the risks of COVID-19 are compounded by: 

  • The effects of poor nutrition on the immune system 
  • Existing diseases (including respiratory infections) and other underlying health issues
  • Overcrowding, especially in refugee camps in the Middle East and Bangladesh
  • Poor education standards and the spread of misinformation 
  • Unstable governments and high likelihood of violence and conflict
  • Precarious economies and low opportunities for employment

But what we’re fighting is far more than a virus. The same conditions that may leave people more susceptible to the novel coronavirus are also conditions that can be exacerbated in the event of an outbreak. Pandemics, especially those that force closures, isolation, and social distancing, can result in:

  • Increased unemployment and fewer resources
  • Higher levels of hunger, and possibly multiple famines
  • Educational barriers that could leave an entire generation of children “lost” 
  • Increased violence and conflict 

Simply put: COVID-19 threatens to reverse decades of hard-won development and progress to ending poverty and hunger. For Concern Worldwide, this is unacceptable. We’re in the communities that will be hardest-hit by this pandemic, and over 5 decades of experience have given us the knowledge and resources required to fight it. 


Concern’s COVID-19 Response

Concern has over 50 years’ of experience leading health programs in fragile and conflict-affected countries, including an award-winning response to the 2014-16 West African Ebola virus epidemic. While our primary mission is to help prevent and contain the spread of the coronavirus, our overall COVID-19 emergency response is also aimed at preventing economic and nutritional ramifications of the pandemic. 

What we’re fighting is far more than a virus.

Our approach includes supporting healthcare worker training and safety, working with local and trusted community leaders to effectively share prevention support, ensuring that other health and nutritional needs are seen to in a time when systems will be overburdened, and ensuring that families have the resources they need to continue and maintain their escape from the cycle of poverty

Concern is taking a 3-pronged approach to COVID-19 response, focusing on: 

  1. Containing and preventing of the spread of COVID-19
  2. Mitigating the potentially devastating near-term impacts of the virus
  3. Recovery efforts to reduce long-term negative development effects


COVID-19: Containment and Prevention

A major lesson learned during the 2014-16 and 2018-20 Ebola outbreaks was that fears, myths, and misinformation keep people from taking preventative measures and receiving necessary treatment. Our current COVID-19 response has focused on providing clear, accurate, and consistent information (while also correcting misinformation) through community awareness campaigns. 

We’re currently working with local radio stations, religious leaders, and other trusted resources to promote COVID-19 prevention information, including handwashing demonstrations and social distancing education. We’re also continuing to share information on other issues that cannot be forgotten during this crisis, including good nutrition, safe childbirth, and preventing gender-based violence.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Concern is prioritizing COVID-19 prevention through access to clean water and soap and the promotion of good hygiene practices, especially handwashing. In addition to education, we’re installing waterpoints with handwashing liquids in the areas where we work, and distributing soap and other hygiene aids to our communities, from villages in rural Niger to overcrowded displacement camps in Iraq. 

Concern Worldwide National Volunteer, Yesmin orienting Mahir* a community member on use of protective mask as safety shield from COVID-19 (Photo: AKM Jakaria / Concern Worldwide)
*name changed to protect the identity of individual

COVID-19: Impact & recovery

Safety of Healthcare Workers

Concern’s priority is protecting and preparing healthcare workers, both in health facilities and in the larger community. We’ve been training, and continue to train, the healthcare workers we work with on a daily basis, focusing on minimizing contact, controlling infections, contract tracing, and diagnosis to help flatten the curve of the virus. We’re also providing personal protective equipment (PPE) where needed, including respirator masks, gloves, and suits. 

Economic Impacts

The novel coronavirus isn’t just a health emergency, it’s an economic crisis. Social distancing may flatten the curve, but it has also slowed economies which hits the poorest members of communities the hardest. Those who rely on daily and informal labor to pay for their homes, food, and other basic needs will be unable to work, resulting in economic and food insecurity. 

Concern has been providing direct cash assistance to the most vulnerable households, using mobile money transfers where possible to prevent unnecessary contact. This advances social assistance allows families to get what they need without having to result to negative coping mechanisms, which could drive them deeper into poverty. 

Maintaining Access to Education

Ensuring access to quality education and protecting children’s wellbeing is core to Concern’s work. As schools close, Concern will work in coordination and collaboration with each country’s Ministry of Education to prioritize children’s right to continue to learn during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re also providing basic learning materials and remote learning support right here in the US.

COVID-19: How you can help

Concern’s COVID-19 response is being put in place across all of our operating areas, including major responses in Afghanistan, Burundi, Bangladesh (including the vast Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar), Central African Republic, Chad, the DRC, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Niger, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria. 

As this is an evolving crisis, both within countries and across geographic regions, flexibility in funding support allows us to quickly direct funds to areas of greatest need, ensuring no community or country gets left behind. 

  • $10 provides one COVID-19 prevention hygiene kit to a family 
  • $20 supplies a community with two water tanks and a supply of hand washing liquid
  • $50 gives one healthcare worker all the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need
  • $75 can feed a family for a month in a time where hunger threatens to increase

Click below to support Concern’s COVID-19 response in 23 countries around the world.

Categories: Health