Our response to COVID-19 in the Pacific

Our response to COVID-19 in the Pacific

ChildFund has been working with communities in South Tarawa, Kiribati, for nearly five years, establishing relationships with local families, Government and other community organisations.

When the pandemic began spreading globally, ChildFund was able to jump into action and coordinate stakeholders — including the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, Betio Town Council and the Red Cross — to carry out awareness-raising campaigns and to distribute soap to households. By mid-April, less than a month after the pandemic was declared, the team had distributed soap to almost every household in Betio and provided families with critical information and guidance on COVID-19 prevention. A total of 2,346 households (18,768 people) were visited.

Enhancing Child Protection for COVID-19 and the long term in Kiribati...

Thanks to the support of the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), $205,000 was received by ChildFund to keep children protected. With MFAT support, ChildFund Kiribati is actively involved in the national COVID-19 taskforce, where our in-country team advocates for enhanced child protection mechanisms during emergencies, and works to ensure the work being done by all parties will complement each other and not be duplicated.

Another important part of this project is focused on identifying vulnerable groups in South Tarawa and creating household emergency response plans. Through focus group discussions, it was identified that community members are concerned about COVID-19, have reasonably good knowledge about its impact and spread, and are aware of those most vulnerable.

Improving hygiene practices for children and families in Betio, Kiribati...

ChildFund Kiribati is also establishing family hubs at traditional community meeting spaces (called maneabas). With a $74,500 grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in partnership with Plan International Australia, 16 handwashing stations have been installed in traditional community meeting spaces (called maneabas), reaching 744 children in Betio.

Additionally, bottles of hand sanitiser were purchased for all households in Betio (roughly 18,400 people). This will help improve hygiene and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Responding to COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea...

Unlike in Kiribati, COVID-19 cases have emerged in Papua New Guinea (PNG), putting vulnerable children at risk. ChildFund PNG has been working with government officials and other organisations to ensure children and communities are protected.

“We are extremely worried that the virus could spread to remote villages undetected, and that would be disastrous,” explains Bridgette Thorold, ChildFund PNG’s Country Director. “That’s why we need to continue to educate the public and provide vital health information and advice to families and communities.”

Thanks to the support of our Community Sponsorship programme in the Pacific, ChildFund is working to improve awareness and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in PNG.

Expanding PNG’s gender-based violence helpline after COVID-19 related spike in calls...

Sadly, COVID-19 has caused an increase in domestic violence in PNG, with children both experiencing and witnessing abuse at home. Five years ago, ChildFund established the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpin Lain, the first tele-counselling service providing support to people experiencing violence in PNG.

In response to COVID-19, additional counsellors and information officers have been recruited and trained, allowing the service to respond to even more life-saving calls.

This article was written as part of our 2020 Annual ReportClick here to read the report today!