Helping Vulnerable Children around the World Survive COVID-19

Helping Vulnerable Children around the World Survive COVID-19 | ChildFund New Zealand

ChildFund directs nearly $80 million USD to help stop spread of virus, provide nutrition and educational support, and prevent violence as countries around the globe continue to see a spike in cases

(New Zealand) Six months after launching an ambitious COVID-19 Response Plan in April 2020, ChildFund is directing nearly $80 million USD to relief efforts reaching more than 5.6 million children in more than 60 countries. This includes more than $44 million in new funds raised and more than $35 million in sponsored funds that ChildFund members repurposed in the wake of the global health crisis.  

The need could not be more urgent. While there has been good news in recent weeks about the arrival of vaccines that proved successful in trials, the global pandemic has already fundamentally altered the health, economic, educational, and political landscape of our world. Moreover, it will be a daunting process for countries worldwide to approve, distribute, and administer the vaccines to billions of people.

According to the World Health Organization, as of 15 December, the world had more than 71 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 1.6 million deaths attributed to the virus[1]. In addition, the World Bank estimates the pandemic will push as many as 115 million additional people into extreme poverty this year[2], and school closures are affecting hundreds of millions of children[3].  

For many of the world’s most vulnerable populations, the growing economic uncertainty of the past several months has resulted in numerous negative impacts on children. The crisis has increased threats of violence against children, the risk of child labor, child marriage and child trafficking. Further, at least a third of the world’s children are unable to access remote learning with so many schools closed to in-person learning[4].

To help minimize the negative effects of the pandemic, and make sure children and families remain healthy, educated, and safe, ChildFund’s COVID-19 Response Plan focuses on four key priority areas: stopping COVID-19 from infecting children and families; getting children the food they need; keeping children safe from violence—physically and emotionally; and helping children to continue their learning.

“In March, when the global pandemic hit, our teams and partners in all of our dedicated communities were able to pivot from programme delivery into COVID-19 prevention and awareness,” ChildFund New Zealand CEO Paul Brown says. “Having established, trusted and proven relationships on the ground made the transition possible and then now going forward, we’re able to work with each community to bring COVID-19 measures into all our project delivery and development assistance.”

In Kiribati, ChildFund has been working with communities in Betio for five years establishing relationships with local families, Government and other community organizations. When the pandemic struck, ChildFund was able to jump into action and coordinate stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF, Betio Town Council and the Red Cross, to carry out awareness-raising campaigns and to distribute soap to households. By mid-April, they had distributed soap to almost every household in Betio and provided the families with critical information and guidance on COVID-19 prevention. All up 2,346 households (18,768 people) were visited. Information. More recently in Betio, ChildFund has worked with local youth to build and install 14 handwashing and now on a project distributing water testing kits to households to improve access to clean, safe water.

“As many countries are experiencing yet another peak in the number of COVID-19 cases, it is all the more vital to reach those who are suffering as a result of the significant economic hardships this pandemic has triggered,” said ChildFund Alliance Secretary General Meg Gardinier. “The collateral damage from the pandemic will have long-lasting impacts if we don’t take aggressive action to stop the spread of the virus and mitigate its harms to children.”

ChildFund has been installing community handwashing stands; educating communities about symptoms, hygiene measures, and locations for testing and treatment; distributing essentials such as soap, gloves and masks; and creating child-friendly spaces. To make sure children get food and other essentials they need, ChildFund is providing cash for families most in need, and where possible, is distributing food and basic household items directly. In all of its activities, ChildFund is carefully abiding by COVID-19 protection measures.

In Luangwa, ChildFund New Zealand’s dedicated community in Zambia, 1,000 vulnerable families received six months of financial assistance during COVID-19, two local hospitals were donated four oxygen machines, a suction machine, two ICU beds, 20 hazmat suits and 20 suction tubes supplied and 26 schools received thermal scanners and better handwashing facilities. In Emali in Kenya, families in 70 vulnerable households were given food and supplies, 1,840 children received facemasks and 10 hand-washing were set up around the community. In Batticaloa in Sri Lanka, ChildFund set up e-platforms so that the Lead Mothers program could continue to deliver valuable advice and help to new mothers. While in Cao Bang in Vietnam, community events were held to help parents of small children to better care for children during COVID-19.

With 80 years of experience, and operations in more than 60 countries across 11 members, ChildFund is well equipped to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children, during and after this pandemic. You can read or download the plan or visit our website. Learn how you can help by visiting ChildFund’s online COVID-19 emergency response site.

About ChildFund

Founded in 1938, ChildFund is a child-focused global development organization that helps nearly 16 million children and family members in more than 60 countries. Eleven child-focused development agencies are part of the global network ChildFund Alliance. The members work to end violence and exploitation against children and to overcome poverty and the underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work in partnership with children and their communities to create lasting change, and the participation of children themselves is a key component of our approach. Our commitment, resources, innovation, knowledge and expertise serve as a powerful force to transform the lives of children.