* This is a work in progress resource, keep checking for updated information*
As the world continues to respond to the global pandemic of Covid-19, the coronavirus, the situation on the ground in every country is changing rapidly. The ACT Security Group is putting together regular updates of their advice on how to deal with this virus. The ACT Secretariat is in contact with forums and members around the world, and is looking into additional supports and responses that are possible from the Alliance. We will continue to post updates to our website as they are available, to share our recommendations and responses to this situation.
WHO official page on COVID-19
COVID-19 Visualizer of global caseloads by country
Getting the workplace ready for COVID-19
Infographics for social media use
NCA Programme Preparedness and Response to COVID-19
See below: Latest Updates | Gender Analysis of COVID-19 | Humanitarian Coordination | Online organising| Role of FBOs |
ACT COVID-19 Appeal can be found here. The Call for Proposals and RRF template for the appeal are now available.
The Africa Regional Gender Community of Practice has released guidance on gender-focused response to COVID-19 in Africa here.
Practical considerations and recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19 from the WHO here.
Webinars by ACT member PDA for emotional and spiritual care of those in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis here.
A pastoral letter from the Pacific Conference of Churches to Christians in the Pacific here.
[Story]: NCCP provides relief to 300 households affected by COVID19 here.
Download the ACT Security Group‘s Recommendations for Zoom calls (April 7) here.
Check all the resources on the Programme Guide on Coronavirus: here
The impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities here
IASC protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: here
Joint Statement on COVID-19 by the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development (IATF) with the endorsement of the IATF Multi-Faith Advisory Council (MFAC) here. ACT’s General Secretary is a co-chair of the MFAC.
Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities (JLI) and World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) together with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University find more info here
Berkley Center Consultation on COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions find here
A statement by ACT and the WCC for World Water Day on the need for access to clean water to engage in proper hygiene in the developing world: here.
A joint statement by ACT Alliance and Religions for Peace: Urgent Action Needed to Prevent Covid-19
Two statements by CWS, and by the Cuban Council of Churches and NCC USA calling for a lifting of sanctions against countries including Cuba, Iran and Venezuela that make it harder for these countries to respond to Covid-19. CWS (EN ES); Cuban Council of Churches and NCC USA.
“Healing from the Distress of the COVID-19 Crisis”: A pilot lesson for small groups to help you begin to heal from the spiritual and emotional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the Trauma Healing Institute. PDF (EN ES FR)
A statement from the National Council of Churches of the Philippines and other Philippine FBOs about Covid-19 here.
Webinars by ACT member Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for emotional and spiritual care of those in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis here.
A pastoral letter from the Pacific Conference of Churches to Christians in the Pacific here.
Practical considerations and recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19 from the WHO here. Additional information for FBOs and faith leaders is available from the WHO here .
- Around the world, women make up a majority of health care workers, almost 70 percent according to some estimates, and most of them occupy nursing roles — on the front lines of efforts to combat and contain outbreaks of disease. In China’s Hubei Province, where the current coronavirus outbreak originated, about 90 percent of health care workers are women. Nurses are also more exposed to virus than doctors.
- As with every crisis it is very likely that the burden of care will fall on women, particularly if someone in the family is sick, increasing the chances of contagion, and where a mandatory closure of schools is implemented. This applies both to rural and developing contexts but also to urban poor homes and communities..
- Social distancing is necessary to Flatten the Curve, however this is problematic when it comes to domestic violence. Domestic violence victims will be forced to isolate with their partner, this means that episodes of domestic violence might increase.
- Travel restrictions will create uncertainty and financial problems for the mostly female foreign domestic workers, especially in South East Asia. Access to health services for migrant female workers will also be challenging as many don’t have health insurance. This also applies to illegal or undocumented migrants and those confined to refugee camps.
- During the outbreak of Ebola in 2014-16, women were more likely to be infected but also they were less likely to have decision-making power around the health emergency.
- As the crisis widens its geographical reach, resources for Sexual and Reproductive health might likely to be diverted to facing the outbreak emergency. This might impact women negatively as could turn into inadequate access to hospitals and have a great impact on maternal health and mortality rate.
- Stockpiling/hoarding by those who can afford to do so may affect less privileged women from accessing sanitary/menstrual supplies, further increasing health risks and isolation.
- Women who survive in the informal sector and are unable to continue their work due to social distancing policies may be pushed into increasingly dangerous activities to survive.
- The outbreak might also impact and disrupt girls’ education in vulnerable contexts.
- Single parents will also be heavily affected as the outbreak decreases financial security and increase chances of being exposed to the virus
Resources, tips and trainings by ACTLearn
As we navigate in these troubling times of Covid-19, we are increasingly challenged by working remotely and conducting meetings and trainings online. Fortunately, ACT Alliance’s learning collaboration, ACTLearn, has focused on online collaboration and learning for several years and is ready to support! ACT Alliance members can take advantage of this collaboration and its resources.
A number of opportunities are listed below:
Get inspiration, useful tips and other helpful resources for working with dispersed teams, hosting online meetings and trainings, and much more. Participation is free. The webinar is hosted by DanChurchAid’s Learning Lab.
The first webinar will take place on Thursday, March 26th from 9:00-10:00 CET. Find out more about the webinar.
Join the ACTLearn/Fabo collaboration and develop your own online courses
Learning Lab has launched a new virtual work site for experience sharing to help transition from in-person working to remote working. The site gathers resources, tips and tricks all in one place.
This is a learning gate on fabo.org for ACT Alliance Members. On the site you can find courses for ACT Alliance Members. We are currently developing the catalogue. We are excited to offer free courses on “Code of Conduct“, “Complaints”, “Facilitation” and “Religion and Development”. https://fabo.org/act
ACT Alliance has launched a $12M USD appeal (a combination of Rapid Response Fund and more traditional appeal) to respond globally to the COVID-19 pandemic. Full details can be found in the appeal document here. The Call for Proposals and RRF template for the appeal are now available.
ACT Alliance Programmatic Response to the Global COVID-19 Pandemic (initial briefing document)
Pandemics are the most complex crises to plan for in terms of emergency response. For one, the humanitarian infrastructure is not particularly designed for scaling up at a global level. Traditionally, epidemics and pandemics are considered as health emergencies that require interventions in health systems and services. However, the current context in many countries is such that urban agglomerations and informal settlements have grown tremendously (e.g. Delhi, Kolkata, Dhaka, Manila, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Sao Paolo), and mega-camps have become the norm in dealing with massive displacement situations (e.g. Darfur, Dadaab, Zahtari, Cox’s Bazar). In addition, people on the move (e.g., Venezuela, Central America, Turkey-Greece border, Syria-Turkey border, Sahel, etc.) are a major vulnerable group, with infections expected to rise exponentially as soon as it hits them. As such the recommended approach as discussed in the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) and other global coordination bodies is that the humanitarian response to CoVID-19 should take a multi-sectoral approach that would complement the health systems work led by the WHO and governments.
The proposed ACT Alliance response should recognize the overall principles set out by the IASC in the draft Global Humanitarian Response Plan):
- Maximise the complementarity and synergies between ongoing responses and plans.
- Ensure flexibility to adjust the responses and targets to the fast-evolving situation and needs
- Build on existing coordination mechanisms
- Full respect of humanitarian principles
- Ensure inclusion of all people – notably vulnerable, stigmatized, hard to reach, displaced and mobile populations who are frequently left out of national plans, or who are inadequately included in such plans
In addition, the following operational response elements set out by the WHO will be adopted (SOURCE: WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for CoVID-19):
- Rapidly establishing international coordination and operational support
- Scaling up country readiness and response operations
- Accelerating priority research and innovation
At ACT Alliance level, the following principles/strategic objectives embedded in the ACT Global Strategy and relevant ACT policies may be adopted:
- People at the centre, including survivor and community-led response (SCLR);
- Forum-driven approach;
- Localization and the role of national members and local partners (this crisis is seen as a good opportunity to test our approaches);
- Local churches and religious leaders as humanitarian actors and long-term agents of change
- Quality and accountability, as defined by CHS and Sphere and accompanying minimum standards;
- A gendered approach to CoVID-19 programming, as mandated by our commitment to gender justice
Thematic/Sectoral Entry Points for CoVID-19 Programming:
- Preparedness and Contingency Planning (ACT Forum and community/camp level)
- Needs assessment
- Awareness building/information dissemination
- Public health interventions, case management (members and partners with hospitals and mobile clinics)
- Camp management
- Shelter and NFIs
- Gender programming including SRHR and SGBV
- MHPSS and Community based Psychosocial Support
- Cash transfer modalities
- National/local humanitarian coordination and advocacy
- Health care in development work
- Linking with national councils of churches, WCC and their work on health and healing
- Donor-facing advocacy
Proposed Response under the ACT Humanitarian Mechanism
It is proposed that a Global ACT CoVID-19 Appeal be developed, in view of the scale of the emergency and the fast-changing context in different countries. The Appeal can be designed to have two components:
- Funding available for direct requesting members
- Bespoke funding for national members (to use the same modality as the Global RRF Fund), to allow for more flexible programming and geographic targeting
A Task Group is currently being formed by the ACT Secretariat composed of members who are ready to engage in developing the Appeal (technical expertise). Parameters for participation in the Appeal as requesting member will be developed by the Secretariat and the Task Group. Participation in the Task Group does not necessarily mean participation as requesting member of the Appeal.
The initial analysis of the Secretariat points to the following possible criteria for country/member selection (may be stand-alone or a combination of these):
- Countries that rank low in the WHO Preparedness Capacity Index
- Countries or contexts with high CoVID-19 vulnerability (e.g. large urban poor populations in megacities, major refugee camps, massive displacements, and people on the move, high risk and vulnerability index)
- Members that have specialized health response capacity (e.g. members with hospitals and mobile clinics such as LWF, ELCT, Pelkesi, Corus, etc.)
- Forums/members that have existing relevant capacity and willingness to engage.
Clearer parameters will be firmed up as the Appeal is developed. In principle, the Appeal should have clear but flexible provisions for site and beneficiary selection and programme interventions.
It has to be noted that we do not expect all Forums/countries to be involved in the Global Appeal.
We need to take a very pragmatic approach as an Alliance for this complex response, and Forums/members are highly encouraged to explore other available options for responding through their existing portfolio of development and humanitarian programmes.
Operational Entry Points for Forum/Member Engagement
- Participation in global ACT Response (i.e. Global CoVID-19 Appeal) as implementing or funding member
- Introduction of CoVID-19 programming in existing humanitarian or development work
- Total ACT Response; i.e. working outside the Appeal but sharing information with the Secretariat (a global ACT 4W tool will be used for this purpose)
- A good starting point for forum engagement is to run a Forum Contingency Planning exercise for CoVID-19, which would help forums define how they may engage in the process. Two tools are now available for this purpose: i) the ACT Security Group Contingency Planning guidelines (for business continuity) – file name: ASG Covid19-Guidance-Advisory; and ii) the existing EPRP template for Contingency Planning (for programmatic preparedness and response) – file name: ACT Forum COVID19 Contingency Plan Template
Cross-Cutting Support to be made available for members/Forums
- ACT Secretariat (coordination, technical support, communications, donor coordination)
- ACT Security Group (security and business continuity advice)
- Communications (Secretariat and members) –coordinating content development, information dissemination and learning; linking with external actors such as CDAC
- Technical support from members with specialized capacity, e.g. WASH, health emergencies, etc.
- ACT Secretariat to maintain global ACT coordination through different available platforms (coordination calls, email correspondence, bilateral discussions, ACT and FABO resource websites)
- ACT Secretariat to form and coordinate a Task Group to develop a global ACT Appeal (Concept Note and Full Appeal) –members to indicate interest to be part of the Task Group by COB Monday, 23 March 2020
- ACT Regional Offices to coordinate possible Forum and national member engagement, including discussions towards country/forum selection based on criteria. Needs assessments will be conducted in countries/locations of interest (i.e. clearly meeting the criteria).
- Publication of Global ACT Appeal (Concept Note) by Monday 30th March (with enough information for making funding/fundraising decisions)
- ACT Secretariat to agree with Members/Forums on participation in the Appeal by Monday 6th April 2020
- Publication of Global ACT Appeal (Full Appeal) by Wednesday, 15th April 2020
- Bespoke CoVID-19 pot to be created within the ACT Appeal (managed under the RRF); additional criteria to be developed based on actual funding
ACT Secretariat Contacts: https://actalliance.org/about/secretariat/;
ACT national Forums and national members may coordinate with their respective ACT Regional Offices for clarification or support;
Member HQs may coordinate with the Head of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva.
Available Resources for CoVID-19 Programming
To help in designing the programmatic interventions, members may consult the following resources developed by ACT members and other humanitarian organizations:
- IASC website for CoVID-19 programming: https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/covid-19-outbreak-readiness-and-response
- WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan: https://www.who.int/publications-detail/strategic-preparedness-and-response-plan-for-the-new-coronavirus
- WHO Country Preparedness Index:https://www.who.int/internal-publications-detail/updated-country-preparedness-and-response-status-for-covid-19-as-of-16-march-2020
- Sphere guidance on coronavirus response: https://spherestandards.org/coronavirus/
- Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), CoVID-19 guidance
- Gendered Response to CoVID-19
- ACT Alliance
- CARE/IASC: https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/other/gendered-implications-covid-19-policy-paper
- Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/other/interim-briefing-note-addressing-mental-health-and-psychosocial-aspects-covid-19-outbreak