CARE's Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

CARE's Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

The emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant poses unanswered questions in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. But it confirms what CARE has emphasized since the beginning of the pandemic: no one is safe until everyone is safe. New variants and surges of infection are inevitable without equal access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

Today CARE is urgently seeking $25 million to prepare for and protect against Omicron and other COVID-19 variants in teh world's most vulnerable communities. 

Fast and Fairworks to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach the most marginalized, and that women are not pushed to the back of the line. We build on CARE’s experience – such as addressing the Ebola epidemic – to foster community preparedness for, trust in, and access to vaccines. We support national governments to strengthen last-mile delivery, while bolstering public health systems, capacity to deliver primary care – including routine childhood immunizations and reproductive health care – and resilience against future shocks.

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Harnessing collective power to combat a global pandemic 



The massive second wave in COVID-19 infections has completely overwhelmed fragile health systems in many countries since April 2021. Hospitals ran out of beds, oxygen and personal protective equipment (PPE). Most rural areas lack proper testing facilities or healthcare infrastructure, and vaccine hesitancy remains high in many communities due to misinformation. Indeed, the pandemic’s impact is only beginning. Most low-income countries have not yet felt the full effect of COVID-19 and its emerging variants. The virus and the economic aftermath likely will push 426 million people into poverty – more than the population of the U.S. and Canada combined – and potentially reverse development progress by up to 10 years. 


To counter these challenges, we must fight harder than ever. Your support to CARE’s COVID-19 Second Wave Fund has helped us provide lifelines – establishing COVID treatment centers, supporting vaccination campaigns, delivering nutritious food, and supporting economic recovery. The evolving situation has highlighted the importance of flexible funding that can be allocated quickly where it’s needed most. This report highlights some of CARE’s response activities in most-affected countries that received immediate resources through the Second Wave Fund. Overall, we allocated funding to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam 


CARE is on the ground in these and other countries that are struggling to hold their ground against the COVID-19 resurgence. We have integrated COVID prevention activities into existing projects around the globe, and CARE teams are hand-carrying vaccines on walking paths or making deliveries by motorcycle or boat to ensure that the lifesaving shots reach people in the hardest-to-reach communities and do not expire. Speed is of the essence, and you have helped enable that through the Second Wave Fund.  


CARE’s Response 

Since CARE was created 75 years ago, emergency response has been embedded in our DNA. Even before the second wave started in early 2021, we had mounted the largest emergency response in our history to combat COVID-19 and increase awareness of the escalating threat of gender-based violence during the pandemic. CARE acted fast on the frontlines in 2020, reaching 40% more people through our emergency response programming compared with 2019. Today, over a year and a half later, we are seeing the ripple effects of the pandemic on the world’s most vulnerable populations, especially women and girls. While CARE’s response has been extensive, and vaccines bring new hope, the crisis is far from over. We had set a $60 million goal for second-wave support. To date, we are at 44% of this goal ($26.3 million). Full funding is needed to sustain CARE’s response over the coming months and ensure that fast and fair vaccination initiatives reach marginalized populations.  


Examples of CARE’s interventions supported by the Second Wave Fund to date include: 

Bangladesh has had 1.56 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 27,531 deaths. The country went on lockdown from July-August 2021 as second-wave cases escalated. CARE has been distributing PPE to frontline health workers and community volunteers; supporting COVID care centers for patients in Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chattogram; training government frontline health workers to improve the vaccination process; and orienting community health volunteers on vaccination registration and awareness to reduce stigma and misconceptions. Of particular concern is the Cox’s Bazar district, where 860,000 Rohingya refugees live in the world’s largest refugee camp. High population density, poor hygiene practices and unsanitary conditions are fueling the perfect environment for the virus to spread. In Cox’s Bazar, CARE is building isolation centers as well as using our existing health posts and outreach clinics to refer suspected COVID-19 cases to the isolation centers for testing and further support. Most recently, on August 1, we established a 30-bed isolation center in Camp 4, in collaboration with the government and using resources from the Second Wave FundIsolation centers provide separate areas for female and male patients, washrooms, solar electricity, meals, medicine, oxygen, ambulance services and 24/7 care from doctors and other health professionals. Severe cases are referred to intensive care centers for advanced treatment. Moreover, CARE’s community outreach activities in Cox’s Bazar and other districts aim to reduce vaccine hesitancy as well as build community resilience to prevent future surges. 


Honduras has had 369,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths. The highest number of deaths was recorded in July 2021, as three variants are now present in the country. Hospitals are filled to capacity with serious cases, and medical supplies and PPE are running low. CARE’s immediate priority is to support 14 municipalities in the western region – the poorest part of the country with the largest indigenous population. CARE channeled Second Wave funding through our existing HOGASA (community health) project, which already was well-positioned to support communities and healthcare providers. We are strengthening service providers and health volunteers in COVID-19 prevention and surveillance; distributing lifesaving equipment and supplies to three hospitals, 14 health centers and three isolation centers; delivering hygiene kits to 2,100 vulnerable familes; designing a communications campaign to reach people through community radio stations and social media; and advocating with municipal governments to include prevention and vaccination campaigns in their plans and budgets. Overall, your support is helping the entire population in the targeted municipalities – approximately 50,000 people – with better care through protection and quality healthcare services. 

Read attached report for more details.


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CARE continues to play a central role in combating the pandemic – with the largest emergency response in our 75-year history, so far reaching 69 of the 100 countries where CARE works. Our achievements to date include:

  • Clean water supplies for 4.9 million people.
  • Hygiene kits with crucial supplies like soap, hand sanitizer, masks and sanitary napkins, for 4.8 million people.
  • Nutritious food for 4.3 million people who face the threat of malnutrition due to lockdowns or loss of income.
  • Cash or vouchers enabling 890,000 people to choose what they need most and support local businesses.
  • Mass media campaigns reaching nearly 262.8 million people with information on COVID-19 prevention and services.
  • Community outreach engaging nearly 20.6 million people in dialogue to offer prevention education, answer questions and dispel rumors.
  • Gender-based violence prevention and response reaching 5.1 million people.
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Adolescent girls are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including interruptions in essential services and an increased risk of experiencing negative health, education and psychosocial outcomes at a critical time in their lives. However, in communities from Colombia, to Niger, Malawi, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Somalia, girls are also coming up with innovative solutions to share life-saving information, continue learning, and shape the nature of prevention and response programs. 

Debbie Landis, CARE Senior Gender in Emergencies Policy Specialist says, “The COVID-19 pandemic places  a generation of young people – especially girls  in a particularly vulnerable situation, as their ability to access essential health, education, and protection services are limited, and the dynamics of the crisis create new risks to their safety and well-being.  As in the case of other crises, adolescent girls are often a ‘hidden’ group, with limited data available on their situation, and insufficient attention paid to their needs in response plans and in the priorities of donors.  

Despite these issues, we are seeing that when the voices of girls are amplified, and when girls are given opportunities for meaningful participation, they can shape the future in powerful ways,” adds Landis. 

Examples from CARE’s work around the world has shown that girls are vital to shaping the nature of the COVID-19 response from engaging in assessment, planning and accountability processes, to informing the design of prevention and response programs, to engaging in outreach and advocacy efforts with their peers and broader communities.  

Adolescent girls are also often best-placed to helshare information in new and innovative ways. In Niger, for example, girls supported by CARE are helping to spread essential information on available services for survivors of gender-based violence.  In other countries such as Mali and India, girls are leading in information sharing and peer support through WhatsApp groups, phone calls and text messaging.  

"I have come to realize that the restriction of mobility is the biggest issue that girls in my community face,” says Puja Gupta, a youth activist from Nepal. “This restriction results in girls getting confined into their houses, not getting the opportunity for education, facing gender-based discrimination and most likely getting married early. We believe that if we do not speak up for ourselves, no one else will. So, we have started to do something about it."  

Some further examples of the role played by adolescent girls in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic include: 

  • IBurundi, CARE organized a social innovation challenge for youth-led and civil society organizations to rapidly identify solutions to respond to the health and rights of vulnerable communities during COVID-19, especially in camps for refugees and internally displaced persons.  

  • In Bangladesh and Nepal, young girls in Tipping Point - a CARE-supported project have engaged in data collection efforts in hard-to-reach communities to build knowledge on the needs and experiences of adolescent girls during the pandemic. 

  • In Colombia, adolescent girls are working to promote continued access to essential health services.  In partnership with adolescent leaders, CARE is working to implement a community awareness campaign to provide information on adolescent health through murals, plays, social medial, and health fairs. 

Promoting the leadership and participation of girls has been an essential component of CARE’s work across all sectors, and this emphasis has only increased in importance since the start of the pandemic,” says Landis. “As the world faces an unprecedented challenge, these results remind us of the powerful potential of adolescent girls – and of the value of investing in them,” she adds.


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Dr. Mona with Amsha Hussein Mendo, Son/ Iraq
Dr. Mona with Amsha Hussein Mendo, Son/ Iraq

With more than 62,000 infections and over 2,500 related deaths[i], Covid-19 is pushing vulnerable communities in Iraq on the brink of survival. Highly vulnerable communities, including 1.4 million internally displaced people, are most at risk, warns CARE International.

In a recently conducted survey among more than 1,400 people in Northern Iraq[ii], CARE found out that 74% of the interviewed needed to reduce their meals, 66% were forced to buy less of essential supplies such as soap while 61% stated that making further debt was the only way to cope with the current economic situation since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

With humanitarian funding for COVID-19 falling short of an alarming rate of 87% for Iraq[iii], CARE urges donors to step up their financial support to manage the current health emergency while ensuring essential supplies reach those in need.

“Despite on-going violence and movement restrictions, we heard of families who have been displaced for years now going back to their home towns in Sinjar – places where they have nothing left and experienced horrific violence and trauma – because COVID-19 and related lockdown makes their lives unbearable in camps and other displacement settlements,” says Wendy Barron, Country Director of CARE International in Iraq. According to UN OCHA, in the month of June 2020, COVID-19 related movement restrictions and on-going hostilities hindered the access to an estimated more than 172,000 people in need of humanitarian aid[iv].

“We recently talked to a young mother living in a camp for internally displaced people who despite dealing with trauma and cancer for years, had been running a successful small restaurant supporting her family to meet their basic needs,” explains Barron. “But coronavirus restrictions forced her to close her business. Since then she doesn’t know how to feed her family or pay for her urgently needed doctor’s appointments.”  

As the economic situation in Iraq has remarkably worsened since the outbreak of the coronavirus, with poverty rates expected to double from 20% to 40% in 2020[v], CARE is especially concerned about the situation of women and girls. “Women face difficulties accessing healthcare because of stigma around COVID-19, they are more vulnerable to violence in their own homes and on top of it are highly economically disadvantaged, often carrying out insecure or informal work and have therefore less access to and control over meeting their daily needs,” adds Barron.

In addition to providing essential services like clean drinking water and hygiene items to prevent a further outbreak of COVID-19, CARE and partner organizations are playing a crucial role in camps for internally displaced people and host communities across Northern Iraq by providing business opportunities and psychosocial support, in particular to women and girls.


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Organization Information


Location: Atlanta, GA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @CARE
Project Leader:
Nia Carter
Atlanta, GA United States
$145 raised of $50,000 goal
5 donations
$49,855 to go
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