Four ways to respond to the COVID-19 virus

The countries where ZOA works, have to deal with conflict, displacement, food insecurity and often weak governments. It is difficult to assess the exact impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at this point, but it is certain that the people who ZOA serves – the most vulnerable – will be hit hard by the virus. The teams in various countries are actively responding. ZOA responds in four ways:

1. Food Support

COVID-19 measures, lockdowns and movement restrictions, severely affect the supply of food and other goods; prices rise and incomes fall leaving people unable to buy food. ZOA supports these people in their first basic need by distributing food packages and cash to buy food. In situations where the local markets function and enough food is provided, cash support allows for a decentralised distribution(lower risk of contamination) and supports the local economy as well.

The airspace, borders, schools and shops are already closed in South-Sudan. There is a ban on gathering in groups, but we can still carry out food distributions because humanitarian activities are still allowed. We working around the clock to do as much as possible before we no longer have this opportunity. – Joop Teeuwen, Country Director South Sudan

We support people in refugee camps in Iraq, vulnerable families in Sri Lanka and victims of violence in South-Sudan to get the food they so badly need.

2. Acces to clean water

Access to clean water is essential in the fight against COVID-19. Handwashing stations are constructed or repaired to provide people with facilities where they can access clean water sources. By ensuring that people know (and have facilities and materials to apply) the right hygiene practices in communities, homes, schools, markets and clinics, ZOA helps to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect people from infection.

3. Hygiene kits 

The knowledge and experience of the ZOA teams with cholera outbreaks in, among others, Yemen and Nigeria, and the Ebola outbreak in Liberia put ZOA in a good position to implement this quickly and effectively. Regular, frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water is crucial to protect people and drastically reduces the risk of infection. Unfortunately, only 60% of households worldwide have access to soap and water to wash their hands. Through the distribution of Hygiene kits, ZOA helps to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect people from infection.

ZOA is accustomed to working in places where the situation is difficult, tough and unsafe. That is why we are here. We are needed more than ever in those countries these days. Despite restrictive measures making our work even more difficult." Rhonda Eikelboom, Program Director ZOA

It is especially difficult in refugee camps where many people live in tents, close to each other. Often dozens of people use the same toilet and there is no place to wash your hands properly. ZOA helps by distributing hygiene packages. Teams in Iraq, Syria and Myanmar distribute hygiene kits to make sure people can take care of themselves and their families.

4. Awareness-raising and education

There is a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 virus, online several incorrect messages circulate about homebrewed remedies helping against the virus. Also, in many countries where ZOA works, there is a lack of confidence in the public health care system and people are afraid to go to quarantine facilities. By raising awareness on COVID-19 and its prevention, ZOA is sharing accurate information to families who have little or no access to reliable information. Through posters, training, radio broadcasts, and pamphlet in local languages people are informed on COVID-19 and how to prevent themselves.

ZOA has set up an Emergency Relief Fund to gather resources that allow us to respond quickly, targeted and flexible in the global fight against COVID-19. We use the knowledge and and expertise of our country teams all over the world.

We are here. 

Click here to read more about our COVID-19 response worldwide.