Together We Fight Corona
The corona pandemic can be felt all over the world. Maybe even in your personal life. ICCO is also noticing the consequences of the corona crisis. In this blog I explain how ICCO is dealing with the pandemic.
Many countries in the global south are in a lockdown. The virus has – at least officially – not spread on such a large scale as in the northern hemisphere, but predictions are that it might happen in May. The lockdowns are understandable. With a shortage of protective products, IC equipment and in general a weak health infrastructure, a high degree of infection could end up in a humanitarian disaster. The recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) are now complied with, but it is difficult to maintain e.g. social distancing and sanitation measures in remote rural and densely populated urban slums.
The downside of the lockdown is that it has major social and economic consequences. Local economies in developing countries, mostly informal, are eroding by the day. Governments are not able to substantially mend these cracks as they lack the financial resources.
International (agricultural) trade has also weakened considerably. Smallholder farmers face challenges due to reduced access to quality seeds and fertilizers. As a result of the closure of factories, shops, and people avoiding domestic workers in their houses, millions of people around the globe have lost their livelihoods in a matter of a few weeks. In some parts of the world this has resulted in the people’s inability to buy sufficient food, resulting in hunger, often in urban contexts. Costs of food commodities may well increase because supply and demand are no longer in balance. This all threatens the food security in countries.
The work continues, but differently
In all the countries where ICCO and its partners work there are restrictions in movement; some countries have a total lockdown, while in others there are merely curfews at night. All ICCO staff are working from home. But ICCO remains operational while working from home. Our programs are obviously affected, but we try to continue to provide essential and life-saving services in those places where it is most needed.
Slowly but surely, ICCO is also noticing the financial consequences of the corona crisis. Because programs are delayed, fixed running costs of the organization weigh heavy on the reduced expenditure of the actual program activities. Also donors start reallocating their budgets towards projects that deal with the economic, social and health consequences of the virus. ICCO consults with its main donors, including the Dutch government, on how existing projects can proceed and how new resources can be made available to support the most affected people in this crisis.
We want to respond twofold. In the short term with an emergency response to disseminate important information on COVID-19 prevention, symptoms and treatment. We also intend to distribute water, food and cash to the most vulnerable. In the recovery phase we need to ensure restoration of livelihoods and food security in the aftermath of the restricted movement and its impact on the private sector.
ICCO is one of the 15 NGO members of the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA). This alliance has received additional resources from Minister Kaag of International Trade and Development Cooperation in the fight against corona. Thanks to these funds, ICCO will respond amongst other countries in Ethiopia to the corona crisis.
The corona virus makes an unpleasant world trip. The epicenter has moved from China, through Europe, to the United States. The next station may be the poor countries in South America, Africa, South Asia. Let’s put a halt to that journey, as soon as possible, anywhere in the world. Let’s show solidarity with those who are and will be affected by this crisis and bring hope to those in fear, grief and desperation.