In the early months of the pandemic, Oxfam India provided food aid to migrant workers stranded by movement restrictions: hot meals to 2,500 people, dry food for 982, and 52,000 packets of ready-to-eat meals to workers and homeless people. Oxfam India also provided cash to hundreds of families. A year later, the country is facing deadly wave of coronavirus deaths, and hospitals are unable to meet the demand for treatment. People desperate for medical care are struggling to pay for oxygen and medication, according to news accounts. The poorest migrant workers and others unable to work, travel, or afford food and health care are suffering the worst. India’s COVID-19 outbreak is resulting in more than 350,000 cases per day in the last week of April 2021. Oxfam in India is working to procure oxygen tanks, beds, digital thermometers, and other medical equipment to help government hospitals where supplies are desperately low. It will continue to provide food to stranded workers and others, transfer cash to poor households (particularly ones headed by women) to pay for their immediate needs or establish small businesses. Oxfam is also continuing to distribute hygiene kits to people at risk, and protective equipment to health workers.
Oxfam's team in Myanmar is working closely with our partners to scale up our humanitarian assistance in over 100 displacement camps in Kachin and Rakhine states. In Kachin, Oxfam partners are distributing soap, have built more than 150 hand washing stations to date and are delivering health education and training in camps for people displaced by long-standing conflict. In Rakhine state, Oxfam is working with our consortium partner Solidarités International to promote good hygiene practices and raises awareness in local languages, build 1,000 additional hand washing stations and distribute 17,000 additional pieces of soap every month, along with other hygiene materials, in confined camps where displaced Rohingya and Kaman Muslims have been living since 2012.
As Syrians enter the 10th year since the outbreak of conflict, they are facing the grim reality of COVID-19. Before this pandemic, Syria was facing a humanitarian crisis of staggering scale. According to the most recent UN data, 11.7 million children, women, and men need humanitarian assistance. Oxfam’s response will focus on improving hygiene practice through a nationwide media campaign, distributing family hygiene kits, improving access to water and sanitation, cash transfers and cash for work, and mapping out and referring people to healthcare facilities.
In the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan, Oxfam has already carried out awareness sessions on the pandemic and proper hand washing with more than 2,000 children. With Jordan now in complete lockdown and access to the camp limited, Oxfam is focusing on hygiene awareness messages and campaigns using WhatsApp groups including 467 community members and volunteers to promote health and hygiene.
Oxfam will support 21 health facilities in Iraq with urgent water, sanitation, and hygiene improvements for isolation units, providing them with hygiene and infection control supplies and protective equipment. Oxfam will also provide hygiene kits to high-risk and vulnerable populations focusing on the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and pregnant women. Public information campaigns will raise awareness of good hygiene practices and prevention of gender-based violence.
In Yemen, families and communities have endured more than five years of conflict, which has left the health system in ruins, and has pushed vital resources like clean water, safe shelter, and proper nutrition out of reach for many. Oxfam's Yemen country team is preparing to respond with public health promotion specifically on COVID-19 prevention including training for community health volunteers to engage in community awareness campaigns, and support to health facilities with hygiene care materials. The team is distributing cash, and launching cash-for-work opportunities for women, and other cash-for-work activities focused on environmental health. Oxfam is helping the healthcare system in Yemen by providing equipment including sanitizer, cleaning materials, gloves and buckets, and mobile services for rural areas equipped with toilets, beds, and oxygen tanks.
Oxfam and our partners in Afghanistan are incorporating COVID-19 awareness-raising messages into our ongoing humanitarian response, which includes distributing food and cash to families, and supplies to support farmers. Since January 2020, Oxfam has assisted 200,336 people with cash, food, and agricultural materials such as seeds and fertilizers.
In Mozambique, where families are still recovering from Cyclone Idai last year, Oxfam and partners are working to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and to raise awareness of prevention and treatment with the help of community volunteers.
In Zimbabwe Oxfam's overall objective is to improve access to washing stations and latrines, and improve awareness of the pandemic risks. In the long term, Oxfam will improve access to water through borehole well rehabilitation, construct more latrines, and improve awareness. Oxfam will help encourage better emergency response coordination as well as strengthen response capacities of local partners such as city of Harare and Ministry of health.
An outbreak in Gaza would have tremendous consequences as the health system is already collapsing prior to COVID-19 and more than half of the population are living under the poverty line. Oxfam is providing 100 beds and hygiene kits to quarantine centers in Gaza, as well as hygienic protective clothing, hand washing facilities, and sanitization materials for 750 medical staff working in 15 non-governmental medical centers. We also are working with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to support a public-health campaign across the Occupied Palestine Territory. Working with partners in both Gaza and the West Bank, Oxfam helped farmers and food-related businesses with protective equipment they need to get back to work processing and packing food, and raising livestock; and provided food vouchers for six months that help 480 vulnerable families in Gaza get fresh chicken, fruits and vegetables; and distributed food to 5,100 households in northern and southern parts of Gaza.
In Lebanon, Oxfam is working with groups to distribute three rounds of cash assistance to 74 households with people who have lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oxfam staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo are working closely with medical providers and our local partner organizations to build on existing community health promotion work. We plan to support local solutions and capacity to prevent and reduce the infection risk, by training community-based volunteers. We will be providing hygiene kits and installing hand washing facilities and water points as well as constructing latrines and bathing facilities to support social distancing measures which are safe for women and girls to use. Oxfam has distributed cash, seeds, tools, to families in eastern Congo near Kabalo: 1,000 in 13 villages have received cash, 1,000 got maize and ground nut seeds and tools; 100 got seeds and training for vegetable gardening.
In Bangladesh, Oxfam has stepped up its work on hygiene promotion and water and sanitation facilities in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, where some 855,000 refugees currently live in extremely overcrowded conditions. We plan to help 70,000 refugees and 5,000 members of the local Bangladeshi community with these activities. We have reduced all other non-essential activities in the camps to support social distancing efforts. We are also continuing to advocate for aid workers to be allowed to work in the camps to provide essential services around hygiene, clean water, and sanitation.
In Burkina Faso Oxfam and our partners are prioritizing assistance for people displaced within the country by conflict as well as the communities hosting them. The program aims to improve community knowledge on COVID-19 and prevention measures, and to foster community engagement in the face of this pandemic. Activities underway now include working with water management committees and volunteers on COVID-19 prevention measures, and improving access to water and sanitation, promoting good hygiene, and supporting local health services in close collaboration with local health authorities. Oxfam intends to reach 105,000 people.
In Chad, 21 Oxfam partner groups are providing food and livelihood assistance to 400,000 people.
Eleven Oxfam partners in Ghana are distributing food to 5,000 vulnerable households, including women-headed families, people with disabilities, and informal workers.
Oxfam partners in Mali are distributing cash to 1,400 vulnerable households in Gao and Segou, with an additional cash assistance planned for 646 households near the capital Bamako.
In addition to providing food, water, and other assistance to 200,000 people in the Central African Republic, Oxfam and our partners are taking steps to ensure people now most vulnerable to the pandemic -- particularly women and children -- have the information they need to minimize the transmission of the coronavirus. We are also planning to distribute hygiene kits (with soap), and install and repair showers and latrines for schools and health professionals. Oxfam and partners are also planning to distribute food and cash to households in quarantine and self-isolation. The plan expects to reach 190,000 individuals.
Oxfam in Senegal is adapting a humanitarian response in Louga province already under way to assist communities affected by drought in 2019 to include information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus using community radio. Oxfam and our partners are also distributing masks, hand sanitizing gel, cash, hygiene kits, and equipment for repairing toilets in Louga, as well as communities near Dakar, and in Kolda in south-eastern Senegal.
In Kenya, Oxfam is raising public health awareness about disease transmission, symptoms, and prevention, and increasing access to clean water and soap. Oxfam will also provide cash payments to vulnerable households using existing networks developed in programs to promote women’s economic empowerment. More than 80 percent of Kenyans work in the informal economy and will struggle to meet their daily needs without their normal jobs and income.
In Somalia/Somaliland, Oxfam is continuing its work with partners in Somaliland and Puntland to help villages repair wells, build latrines, and promote good hygiene. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxfam is working with partners to set up two toll-free hotlines where people can get up-to-date information on the coronavirus and receive referrals to medical facilities if needed. Oxfam is also installing emergency handwashing stations, disinfecting busy public places such as mosques and bus stations, and distributing of hygiene kits and promoting healthy hygiene
Oxfam is working with partners in the Amazon region of Bolivia to distribute protective gear (masks, goggles) and disinfectant gel along with information to prevent coronavirus and gender-based violence. In the capital La Paz, Oxfam is also funding protective gear for partners working to prevent gender violence as well as providing funds to migrant and homeless shelters.
In Colombia, Oxfam is working with partners to support 8,500 Venezuelan migrants with food, hygiene products, and information focusing on prevention of gender-based violence for women migrants. We are also helping Venezuelan women traveling with children to secure shelter, and food provisions for eight weeks.
To assist people in the Dry Corridor of El Salvador already suffering from drought, Oxfam and partner PROVIDA are installing safe water tanks and distributing hygiene kits and information on the use of hygiene products. Oxfam and PROVIDA are also supporting a call center to receive community requests for safe water through calls and SMS text messages. The call center also provides information on prevention and hygiene measures to those who call. Oxfam is also providing protective equipment (masks, goggles, disinfectant gel) to local partners and health centers in villages.
Assistance to people already suffering from drought in the Dry Corridor of Guatemala is also part of Oxfam’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Oxfam and our partners have delivered food and hygiene products to 700 people in mainly indigenous communities. Oxfam is providing protective gear (masks, goggles, disinfectant gel) to community leaders and midwives -- both groups are key to providing basic health assistance in rural communities.
Some of our 20 affiliate Oxfams are also responding with assistance for the most vulnerable people: In China and Hong Kong, Oxfam provided 3,640 packs of food for elderly and people with special needs on mainland. In Hong Kong, Oxfam and partners are providing four meal kits/week to 600 low-income families for two years. Oxfam Italy has launched a domestic appeal to fund protective equipment for health workers like gloves, ventilating machines for hospitals and support for Italian teachers to work online.
In the early weeks of the pandemic, Oxfam in India distributed food aid to migrant workers stranded by movement restrictions: hot meals to 2,500 People, dry food for 982, and 52,000 packets of ready-to-eat meals to migrant laborers and other workers and homeless people. Oxfam also provided 204 families cash ($68 per household).
Oxfam South Africa is supporting 17 community kitchens with food packs in the Western Cape and facilitating distribution of food packages in rural and urban communities in Gauteng, Limpopo, and the Eastern Cape.
Women everywhere are likely to be disproportionately affected by this pandemic. Women represent 70 percent of health-care workers and provide most of the unpaid care work to sick family members—a burden likely to increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months. Women are likely to be more vulnerable to getting sick, and those who are already suffering from domestic violence are likely to be confined to households where they are in danger. In our experience, women and marginalized groups are usually also excluded from decision-making spaces for the design and implementation of policies that directly affect them, and the response to this pandemic may not be any different.
Oxfam is also advocating for the US government to increase its level of foreign assistance to protect the most vulnerable people around the world. This includes calling for a global package of nearly $160 billion in immediate debt cancellation and foreign assistance to help developing countries prevent the spread of the disease and build the capacity of health systems to care for those affected.
Oxfam’s global COVID-19 response
countries currently have an active Oxfam coronavirus response
partners are working with us to respond directly in the communities most at risk to the COVID-19 disease
people Oxfam intends to reach in our coronavirus response