ReliefWeb - Updates

ReliefWeb - Updates

Descriptive text is not available for this image

ReliefWeb - Updates

Communication with Communities (CwC) Working Group: 4W Dashboard Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Data Available as of March 2020

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 04:35:13 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar
Source: Inter Sector Coordination Group

Please refer to the attached infographic.

Full Story

Communication with Communities (CwC) Working Group: CwCWG Partners' Presence Map Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Ukhia Upazila, January to March 2020

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 04:32:13 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar
Source: Inter Sector Coordination Group

Please refer to the attached map.

Full Story

Philippines: Mindanao Earthquakes Emergency Operation update n° 3 Emergency appeal n° MDRPH036

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 04:27:26 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Philippines
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies

Effects of COVID-19 to Mindanao Earthquake operation

On 12 March 2020, the Philippines raised the COVID-19 alert system to “Code Red Sub-Level 2” imposing community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other mitigation measures, including suspension of classes, mass gatherings and non-essential work, flexible work arrangements, as well as restrictions on land, domestic air and sea travel. On 15 March 2020, President Duterte announced that the entirety of the Luzon island, the country’s largest and most populated island, would be placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until 12 April 2020, and later announced on 7 April 2020, that it was extended to 30 April 2020. On 17 March 2020, President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 929, declaring the Philippines under a state of calamity for a tentative period of six months. On 24 March, the President signed the “Bayanihan To Heal as One” Act into law, providing him with emergency powers to further strengthen the government response to COVID-19.

Other areas of the Philippines outside of Luzon have also implemented ECQ, as well as introduced their own localized restrictions, including Davao del Sur and North Cotabato, the two operational provinces for Mindanao Earthquake emergency operations. Many operational activities were put on hold in compliance to the government’s imposition of movement restrictions. Thus, there is no significant progress of activities for this update compared to the last issued Operations Update.

In the case of Davao del Sur, the chapter followed the protocol of its local government unit (LGU) to put on hold any activities. While in North Cotabato, the local government has agreed to continue the activities, with some limitation in terms of access, while strictly observing guideline on social distancing and not to hold mass gathering activity.

The IFRC Country Office (CO) has been working in collaboration with their counterparts in Philippine Red Cross to assess the implications of the ECQ and restrictions being enforced on the Mindanao Earthquakes operation; identify measures to mitigate any negative impact on the implementation of activities, and communities being served. This has led to recommendations related to the mainstreaming of COVID-19 sensitive approaches into ongoing activities to protect recipients of assistance, staff and volunteers, through revised registration protocols and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). Implementation of remaining activities was expected to be completed by September 2020; however due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, based on the revised activity plan which been prepared, this is not expected to be done by November 2020 – still within the operating timeframe (end of December 2020). The IFRC CO and PRC are monitoring the situation closely in the event there are further unforeseen disruptions that need to be accommodated.

Description of the disaster

On 29 October 2019, two strong earthquakes struck the province of North Cotabato, Mindanao, the first one of magnitude 6.6 in Tulunan at 09:04; the second of magnitude 6.1 and 9km deep at 10:42 with almost the same epicentre.

Just two days after, on 31 October 2019 at 09:15, another tectonic 1magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook central and eastern Mindanao at a shallow depth of two kilometres. Once again, the epicentre was identified in Tulunan, North Cotabato.2 A state of calamity3 was declared for Davao del Sur on 30 October and Cotabato on 5 November, the two hardest hit provinces. These earthquakes, as well as the magnitude 6.3 earthquake recorded on 16 October 2019, with the same epicentre location, are considered part of a sequence of events resulting from interdependent faults in the region. No tsunami warnings were issued but many aftershocks, ranging from magnitude 1.5 to 5.5 were recorded. The NDRRMC most recent update on 22 January 2020, indicates the main impacts of the earthquakes as follows:

While the government authorities and humanitarian partners were providing humanitarian assistance to people in need, on 15 December, another 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck at 9km northwest of Matanao municipality in the province of Davao del Sur, Mindanao. This was the fourth quake above magnitude 6 in the last two months to hit this part of Mindanao, all within a radius of 12km. According to PHILVOCS, although felt in the same areas, this latest earthquake did not emanate from the same fault as the October’s series of temblors in Mindanao. However, the December earthquake compounded previous displacement as well as damage to homes, schools and infrastructure from the October earthquakes, as reported in the DSWD DROMIC report. A cumulative of 13 confirmed deaths, 210 injured and 1 missing was reported.

The plan of action for this emergency appeal was revised in December 2019 to provide a comprehensive response taking into account all geographical areas affected and escalating needs generated.

Full Story

Lao PDR: IOM Lao People's Democratic Republic COVID-19 Response Infosheet (May 2020)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 04:20:35 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Lao People's Democratic Republic (the)
Source: International Organization for Migration

SITUATION OVERVIEW

With more than 5 million confirmed cases, and about 65,000 deaths around the globe; the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEICC) on 30 January 2020, and characterized it as a pandemic on 11 March 2020.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic confirmed its first case on 24 March 2020. Since that announcement, there have been 19 confirmed cases, with the last reported case on the 11th of April, Lao People’s Democratic Republic is still able to contain the outbreak, as all cases are either travel-related or linked to confirmed cases. To date, there have been no confirmed cases among the recent influx of foreign worker returnees.

In Thailand, the announcement of wide-ranging business closures by the Governor of Bangkok on Saturday, 21 March 2020 and subsequent announcement of the State of Emergency by the Prime Minister on 26 March 2020 triggered mass movements of migrants from Bangkok and other provinces, in Thailand to migrant home provinces, as well as across borders to home countries in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (the) and Myanmar.

Migrant and mobile populations bear a high risk of infection as well as broader social and economic impacts of COVID-19 due to several factors and barriers such as lack or inadequate access to proper information on prevention; limitations in or exclusions from accessing diagnostic and treatment services; cramped and crowded living and working conditions; stigma and discrimination; and other factors

Full Story

International donors meet as humanitarian agencies sound the alarm on Yemen and call for urgent funding

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 04:00:00 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Yemen
Sources: Government of Saudi Arabia, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

(Riyadh/New York, 2 June 2020) – International donors are coming together today, convened by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations, to raise needed funds for the life-saving humanitarian response in Yemen.

More than 130 governments and other donors, international humanitarian organizations and aid officials will meet virtually to raise awareness about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen – where COVID-19 is just the latest challenge - and announce pledges of financial support to the ongoing aid operation. The event comes at a time when the situation for most Yemenis is more dire than at any point in recent history. Several humanitarian programmes are hanging by a thread because of funding shortages.

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with 24 million people in need of aid and protection, and the situation is getting worse by the hour. Yemen is at a precipice. All indications point to COVID-19 spreading fast and wide across the country, overwhelming the health system. The United Nations and NGOs need US$2.4 billion to respond through the end of the year, including $180 million for COVID-19 response. But funding is falling dramatically short. Of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, more than 30 will close in the next few weeks if additional funds do not materialize, leaving millions without the aid they need to survive.

Today’s High-Level Pledging Event does not specify a funding target, but a similar pledging conference last year raised $2.6 billion. Even more important than the pledges is the requirement for speedy payment to avert looming disaster.

What's at stake?

Aid agencies in Yemen are delivering the world’s largest relief operation, reaching more than 10 million people monthly. The COVID-19 response has increased the urgency, scale and financial requirements of the operation.

Without additional funding, the consequences will be as devastating as they are predictable:

  • Only half of Yemen’s health facilities are fully functioning. Those still operational are overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and lack masks, gloves and oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients. Many health and frontline humanitarian workers have no protective gear, and most are receiving no salaries.
  • Further cuts in food assistance will raise the spectre of a famine as millions of families across Yemen depend on food aid to survive.
  • Supplemental nutrition for 1.7 million children and expecting mothers will downsize and nearly a quarter of a million children will see the support reduce or stop.
  • Mobile teams and treatment centres for severely acutely malnourished children will be forced to reduce or stop services. Tens of thousands of children will be at imminent risk of death.
  • Water and sanitation services in Yemen's major cities may grind to a halt placing millions of people at risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
  • Family tracing and reunification for children, psychological first aid, and assistance to survivors of gender-based violence could stop.
  • Patients in need of surgery or with chronic diseases will in many places be left without help.
  • Critical help to hundreds of thousands of displaced people, refugees and migrants, will down-grade or disappear.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said:

“The situation in Yemen is desperate but we still have the capacity to reach people. Even after having to withdraw non-essential staff, we have plenty of colleagues on the ground. There are thousands of Yemeni aid workers still working with the UN, Red Cross and NGOs. But most of the agencies are a few weeks from being broke. We are asking donors not just to promise money today but to pay pledges promptly.”

In 2019, international donors provided a total of $4 billion to support relief work in Yemen. In 2018, donors provided $5.2 billion, thanks to generous donors such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and others.

On the eve of today’s pledging event, the UN has recorded $698 million available for the entire humanitarian response operation. The $2.4 billion asked for by the UN for the remainder of the year is an additional requirement.

Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Advisor – Royal Court and Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) said:

“Saudi Arabia has continued to be the top donor to the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan and urges other donor countries to donate generously. We are deeply concerned by the aggression and violations against aid delivery, including diversion, stealing and redirection. KSrelief will continue to support all regions of Yemen through the UN organizations and international and regional NGOs in the hope that this support will help to minimize the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Let us together make a better future for those who need us.”

END

Full Story

Afghanistan: Joint Operating Principles - Ensuring the Delivery of Principled Humanitarian Assistance [EN/PS]

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 03:50:07 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Afghanistan
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

The Joint Operating Principles (JOPs) were endorsed by the HCT in December 2019.

Purpose and scope: The aid community engaged in humanitarian response in Afghanistan agrees that these Joint Operating Principles (JOPs) reflect humanitarian policies and established practices for interaction with parties to the conflict and other stakeholders. All humanitarian actors – including those with dual mandates (humanitarian and development) – agree to hold ourselves and our sub-contractors, suppliers and those we contract for related programming accountable to these shared thresholds. These JOPs form the framework for engagement in bilateral and joint negotiations with authorities and armed groups at local, national and international levels in an increasingly complex situation.

Core Humanitarian Principles: Humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and operational independence are the core fundamental principles for humanitarian action. These principles are derived from International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law and other normative documentsi , and are part of codes of conduct and mission statements guiding humanitarian organizations.

A. Principles - Humanitarian operations and actors are guided by:

  1. Humanity: Human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found, with particular attention to the most vulnerablepopulations, such as children, women, people with disabilities and the elderly. The dignity and rights of survivors mustbe respected and protected.

  2. Neutrality: Humanitarian actors will not participate individually or organizationally in hostilities or taking sides incontroversies of a political, religious or ideological nature.

  3. Impartiality: Assistance is provided without discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, political opinion, gender,nationality, race or religion. Provision of humanitarian assistance is guided solely by needs, and priority is given to themost vulnerable cases.

  4. Operational Independence: Humanitarian action must be autonomous from the political, economic, military or otherobjectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian activities are being implemented.

Full Story

Over five million Yemenis at risk of losing access to food and clean water as coronavirus spreads in Yemen

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 03:41:20 +0000

Country: Yemen
Sources: Human Appeal, Danish Refugee Council, Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, ACTED, War Child UK, ZOA, Islamic Relief, Norwegian Refugee Council, INTERSOS, CARE, Search for Common Ground, Mercy Corps, Action Contre la Faim France, Polish Humanitarian Action - Polska Akcja Humanitarna, Médecins du Monde, Solidarités International, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, Relief International, Muslim Hands International, Save the Children, Première Urgence Internationale, Global Communities

Survey* conducted in Yemen reveals impact of funding shortfalls as Pledging conference is held today

Recent funding gaps and other challenges in Yemen will put an additional estimated 5.5 million people in the war-torn country at risk of losing access to life-saving aid, such as food, cash and clean water this year, 24 international humanitarian NGOs said ahead of the Virtual Yemen Pledging Conference.

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly in the country, the withdrawal of donor funds from the largest humanitarian crisis in the world will cost lives, these organisations warned.

The Pledging Conference is a donor event and an opportunity for aid agencies to ask donors for funds to cover essential activities in Yemen.

Ahead of the event, which is taking place today, a survey was conducted among INGOs working in Yemen to assess the impact on Yemeni civilians if funding shortfalls persist. The nine NGOs which responded to the survey expect a combined drop in funding of 82.5 million dollars compared to 2019, including a sharp reduction in the means to support the already collapsing health sector – affecting an estimated total of 5.5 million people. This number gives us an indication of what the funding shortfall would mean for the wider humanitarian response but the impact on the sector is thought to be even higher with millions more likely to lose out.

It could reduce health services such as mobile clinics as well as the organisations’ ability to provide community water systems, threatening a spike in cholera and the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

This will also push vulnerable communities closer to starvation when already 8.5 million people are having their food aid halved in the midst of lockdowns and job losses. Almost 1.5 million families in Yemen depend on food assistance to survive,[1] many of whom have already been impacted by the scale-down of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) monthly food distributions. Without an urgent injection of funds some organizations will be forced to stop all support for agriculture and livelihoods across the country. Currently, 20.1 million people in Yemen are in need of food assistance, and half of all families are buying food on credit[2].

Ehsan from Sana’a in northern Yemen receives humanitarian aid such as food and water. He says:

“I’m a disabled man and cannot work. I depend on the aid that I receive... If coronavirus doesn’t kill us, we will starve to death inside our houses. Millions of Yemenis will still need food aid if coronavirus hits Yemen.”

Ensuring the supply of necessary goods in Yemen is logistically challenging and access issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak: owing to quarantine measures required in seaports, humanitarian supplies through Hodeidah and Aden have been cut by two thirds.

The undersigned NGOs warned that the impact of the current funding gaps, along with the ongoing violence and the effect of COVID-19 preventive measures, will be disastrous for Yemeni children and their families.

“This conference is a critical opportunity to save thousands of lives and turn things around, but we need to act now,” said the organisations. “The largest humanitarian crisis in the world is now compounded by an unprecedented pandemic. Donors must increase their funding for humanitarian response in Yemen, with priority given to critical life-saving aid, such as food and cash, health services, water, sanitation and hygiene awareness and protection. If funding is critical, peace is the only way to guarantee Yemen’s future. We call on all governments at the conference to apply pressure on warring parties to implement a nationwide ceasefire immediately and restore peace talks."

Notes to Editors:

*In the lead-up to the Yemen pledging conference, a rapid survey was conducted among operational INGOs managing humanitarian programs across Yemen in order to demonstrate the likely negative outcomes for the Yemeni people if funding shortfalls persist and donors continue to withhold assistance. Nine agencies responded, helping to provide an indication of the funding challenges affecting the wider NGO community.

SIGNATORY AGENCIES:

  1. ACTED

  2. Action Contre la Faim (ACF)

  3. ADRA

  4. CARE

  5. Danish Refugee Council (DRC)

  6. Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe

  7. Global Communities

  8. Human Appeal

  9. International Rescue Committee (IRC)

  10. INTERSOS

  11. Islamic Relief

  12. Médecins du Monde (MdM)

  13. Mercy Corps

  14. Muslim Hands

  15. Norwegian Refuge Council (NRC)

  16. Oxfam

  17. Polish Humanitarian Action (PHA)

  18. Première Urgence- Aide Médicale Internationale (PU-AMI)

  19. Relief International

  20. Save the Children

  21. Search for Common Ground

  22. Solidarites

  23. War Child UK

  24. ZOA

To support Save the Children’s global COVID-19 emergency appeal, click here.

Spokespeople are available. For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

Randa Ghazy

r.ghazy@savethechildren.org.uk

+44 74 29980 655 (London)

Out-of-hours

Media@savethechildren.org.uk

+44 7831 650409 (London)

[1] Humanitarian Response Plan extension – June-December 2020

[2] World Food Programme

Full Story

Papua New Guinea: ICRC supports Mount Hagen Hospital to better prepare for COVID-19 patients

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 03:23:44 +0000

Country: Papua New Guinea
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working closely with the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority (WHPHA) to prepare for COVID-19 patients and enhance the capacity of Mount Hagen Hospital by setting up a dedicated isolation unit.

The unit, which includes a delivery room, has a capacity to cater for twelve COVD-19 patients. In addition, the isolation unit has dedicated facilities for staff working to provide care to COVID-19 patients, including PPE donning and doffing stations, and an area for disinfection and waste management. The ICRC also assisted the hospital by establishing two pre-triage tents for the screening of outpatients, the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff, and materials for infection prevention and control.

"COVID-19 is an additional burden for vulnerable communities, who are already experiencing difficulties to access basic services and sustain their livelihood. The ICRC will continue to support people of the Highlands during these challenging times and have adapted our programs accordingly. We are happy that we could support the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority in their essential preparedness efforts, so they will be in a better position to help the community in case of outbreak in the province." said Stephanie Probst, ICRC Head of Sub Delegation in Mount Hagen.

More generally, in support of health authorities, the ICRC will continue to raise awareness in the community on COVID-19 together with PNG Red Cross Society to prevent the spread of the virus, provide essential equipment to health facilities, train health staff, and share technical advice as needed.

The WHPHA is so privileged and honoured to have the support of the ICRC during this time of the coronavirus pandemic where more financial resources are needed to complete preparations for the testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The ICRC has been working to protect and assist people affected by violence and tribal fighting in Bougainville and the Highlands of Papua New Guinea since 2012.

For further information, please contact:
Helen Walters Amnol, ICRC Port Moresby, tel. +67571927175
Reuben Tabel, ICRC Mt Hagen, tel. +67570020863

Full Story

India: Cyclone "AMPHAN" affected areas in Part of East Medinapur district, West Bengal State

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 03:20:23 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: India
Sources: Government of India, International Charter Space and Major Disasters

Please refer to the attached map.

Full Story

Thailand: TBC’s Nutrition Assistance through the Food Card System

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 03:05:56 +0000

Countries: Myanmar, Thailand
Source: The Border Consortium

In February 2019, TBC’s Food Card System was introduced in Ban Mae Surin and Mae La Oon, Mae Hong Son Province of Thailand, with funding support from the US Government.

The Food Card System (FCS) is an automated system that provides refugee households with electronic cards loaded with credit each month in lieu of receiving in-kind food rations. With the cards, refugees can purchase a wide range of food items from participating refugee-managed outlets in the camps. FCS offers a more dignified way of receiving assistance, enabling households to diversify their diets and allow more decision-making about household finances.

With addition of Ban Mae Surin and Mae La Oon camps, there are now over 34,400 refugees/7,650 households (40% of eligible refugee population borderwide) who can use food cards at 60 designated outlets in the camps. Compared to only six food items included in TBC’s general food ration basket, refugees can now choose from 13-40 items offered by the FCS vendors. These include rice, cooking oil, chilies, fish, pulses, sugar, salt, fresh vegetables, eggs, and meat. In addition, refu gees are able to purchase food items as they are needed, which can be done when convenient as opposed to queuing up at the food distribution point once a month.

TBC will further transition two more camps – Mae Ra Ma Luang in Mae Hong Son Province and Umpiem Mai in Tak Province in March 2019. TBC will continue seeking approval from Ministry of Interior (MOI) to rollout the FCS in Mae La camp during 2019.

Full Story

UNICEF Myanmar, Child Protection E-bulletin: COVID-19 (29 May 2020)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 03:02:10 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Myanmar
Source: UN Children's Fund

Case Management

Child protection case management continues for communities

In Myanmar, the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and UNICEF’s implementing partners remain active responding to child protection cases in communities. Due to lockdown and semi-lockdown, inter-township and state movement restrictions and other public health measures, DSW case managers and NGO case workersface challenges in mobilizing necessary services for affected children and families, as well as keeping themselves safe from the virus.

Although logistical and operational difficulties have had some impact on the efficiency of case management response DSW case managers have followed up cases of child sexual abuse in family quarantine and in the townships under lockdown. With DSW case managers called on to coordinate support for children and women in quarantine centres in many States and Regions, DSW case managers’ capacity to respond to child protection cases was stretched.

Nevertheless, DSW case managers and NGO case workers have responded to 66 child protection cases in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine in April. A number that has increased when compared with the previous three months of the year.

Capacity building for the Government of Myanmar and civil society

After 13 online sessions over three weeks of May, UNICEF and Save the Children (SCI) have concluded the first round of training on two guidance notes for adapting case management and alternative care interventions in the context of COVID-19. A total of 243 frontline workers (188 females and 55 males) from government and non-government organizations across 10 regions and states received the training. The feedback from the trainings has been positive and frontline workers provided valuable insights on their areas of priority in responding to the pandemic. Current priority is given to raising community awareness of COVID-19 and ensuring those in need are referred to appropriate health care services. The findings also highlight gatekeeping and facilitating appropriate alternative care for children as the lowest priority. UNICEF will tailor further trainings and support accordingly to ensure the provision of high value technical assistance during the pandemic, as well as to ensure capacity building in areas where frontline workers have highlighted as being a lower priority. This initiative is supported by the Government of Canada.

Full Story

Cameroon: Humanitarian snapshot in North West and South West Regions (April 2020)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:55:02 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Countries: Cameroon, Nigeria
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

In its fourth year, the North West and South West socio-political crisis has led to a massive displacement of populations and further increased community vulnerabilities. The MSNA conducted in August 2019 identified some 450,000 internally displaced persons, as well as 204,000 returnees. The largest numbers of IDPs are registered in the divisions of Meme and Fako in SW and Mezam and Ngo-Ketunjia in NW. Approximately 52% of the displaced are women, with children representing 44.5% of IDP population (96,472 girls and 95,031 boys). It is also estimated that 200,000 have fled to the neighboring regions of Littoral and the West. As of 31 March 2020, about 58,151 Cameroonians are registered as refugees in Nigeria.

The widespread insecurity in the North West and South West regions is rendering the fight against COVID-19 challenging and limiting prevention response activities to main cities under Government control. Continued influx in population movement is also an aggravating factor for the spread of the virus

Full Story

Cultivating change: Women farmers in Dominica find new paths to market amidst COVID-19 shutdowns

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:49:21 +0000

Country: Dominica
Source: UN Women

In Dominica, women smallholder farmers’ fields and gardens are full, and their storerooms are piling up quickly. With markets and restaurants closed due to COVID-19 lockdown measures, farmers have few opportunities to sell, leading to surpluses of fresh produce and shortages of money to pay the bills.

“All of us have been affected by COVID-19. We have a lot of things in our gardens that we cannot sell. We cannot sell at the market, and the supermarkets take less than they used to. We need money to pay the bills. We have to provide everything for ourselves, ” explained a woman farmer during a conversation with UN Women.

The women farmers’ points of sale were nearly eliminated by measures to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus across the small island nation. Initially, produce markets were closed due to weekend curfews, and supermarket and restaurant sales were also interrupted. Port closures meant that they could not sell to the fresh produce exporters; and selling directly to individuals and cash transactions were risky, as the farmers feared getting infected.

Without safe avenues to sell their produce, crops were left to rot—a whole season’s work gone without any profit.

The loss of income has been particularly hard to shoulder for the women farmers of Dominica as they were just beginning to regain their financial footing after Category 5 Hurricane Maria tore through the island in September 2017. The devastating storm had wiped out their crops and destroyed their equipment, tools and infrastructure.

The women’s fight to recover their land and livelihoods had been an arduous journey, and now, the COVID-19 crisis poses a major setback to their progress.

To support the women farmers during this crisis, UN Women has re-oriented its project, which initially intended to establish a seed bank to guard against future disasters. The project will now temporarily pivot to connect farmers from four groups – the Morne Prosper, Bellevue Chopin, North East Women Farmers’ group and Warner Farmers Producers Inc. – to new outlets and market opportunities.

Part of the strategy includes the development and distribution of a weekly inventory of produce so that retailers and individuals can place orders directly with the farmers.

As a start, the supermarket, Lindo Mart, has placed orders with one group of women farmers for seasonings, fresh vegetables and fruits.

Priscilla Jean Jacques, a farmer for over 20 years and a member of the Morne Prosper group, said, “When I saw Morne Prosper women farmers advertising on the Lindo Mart website, I felt so proud. I just pray to God it opens the door for more business.”

Jacques explained that the 22 members of her women’s group grow essential seasonings, which are always in high demand.

They have begun packaging and labelling their products at home because construction of their factory has stalled because of COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Vanessa Julien, Coordinator for Warner Farmers Producers Inc., agrees that the project is already making a difference. “I am a sweet potato farmer. Lindo Mart does not normally buy sweet potatoes, but because of the project, they are trying to assist us. Now I have a market,” she shares. “Based on the sales, they may take a larger quantity next week.” The early success of the project has encouraged her to plant other crops.

Dawn Francis, coordinator of the UN Women project, shared that the project has also created an opportunity for a young woman entrepreneur, Callister Sango. Sango is advertising the women farmers’ produce and their contact information on her online platform, AgriVertise, and on her Facebook page. As a result, the farmers have received more fresh produce orders via the online platforms.

To help them keep up with the digital demand, UN Women has sponsored cellular data credits so that they can do more business using their cell phones.

“UN Women is pleased to support Dominica’s women farmers during this challenging period,” said UN Women MCO Caribbean Programme Specialist Isiuwa Iyahen. Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, smallholder women farmers in Dominica and other Caribbean nations had to live with the constant threat of disasters (primarily hurricanes) and negative impacts of climate change. “With many of these farmers still recovering from Hurricane Maria, they now have to contend with the existential threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the border closures and interruptions in global supply chains, this pandemic reminds us of the importance of preserving local farming, with women farmers being central to maintaining food supply to individuals, households, and the country as a whole.”

By engaging businesses across the community, the project is growing quickly. It has engaged tailors who are now sewing reusable face masks that the farmers can use. The Dominica Export Import Agency (DEXIA) has authorized access to their packing sheds in Fond Cole and Portsmouth for packaging of the fresh produce, and a bus service has been set up to provide contactless delivery. Furthermore, the Dominica Red Cross has placed an order for 250 fresh produce parcels that will be included in care packages for vulnerable persons in the community.

While it may take years to recuperate what has been lost to the COVID-19 crisis and, before that, to Hurricane Maria, seeds of hope have been planted and recovery is taking root in the island.

Full Story

Fiji: IFC Helps Pacific Banks Build Resilience

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:48:46 +0000

Countries: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu
Source: International Finance Corporation

The Pacific’s biggest commercial financial institutions have come together to share ways to stay resilient during the COVID-19 crisis.

In a first-of-its-kind virtual meeting hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), senior management from the Pacific’s biggest providers of finance reviewed global best practices, learned from past crises and discussed measures taken by other financial institutions around the globe.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets, working in more than 100 countries. With funding support from the governments of Australia and New Zealand, IFC works in the Pacific to stimulate private sector investment and reduce poverty in the region.

“With an economic downturn which is expected to leave no Pacific nation unscathed, IFC is also working to help financial institutions in the region continue to back businesses, in particular small and medium sized companies,” Thomas J. Jacobs, IFC’s Country Manager for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands told banking executives at the virtual meeting. “It’s important to keep them operating, and for that they need finance.” IFC has held more than 35 virtual meetings for banks and financial institutions across Asia-Pacific, helping to strengthen the important financial sector at a time that economies are under huge pressure.

“A pandemic of this scale and nature is giving rise to unique challenges and it is evident that there is a shift in the focus of operational risk management,” said Anuradha Sridhar, IFC’s Financial Institutions Group Advisory Regional Risk Specialist for South Asia. There is a need, more than ever, to address emerging risks and rethink our priorities.” The webinar was attended by participants from Pacific nations including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. They considered lessons from Asian banks on their COVID-19 responses, including a shift to digital channels, with the pandemic forcing banks to significantly accelerate their digital capacity.

“In the Pacific, where countries have challenging geographical terrains and most of the populations live in rural and remote areas where it may not be commercially viable for banks to open branch networks, implementing digital technology is seen as a necessity, as long as regulations allow,” said Kevin Gani, Operations Officer for IFC’s Financial Institutions Group in Asia-Pacific.

A key area covered at the meeting was financial stress testing, which allows banks to assess the impact of the crisis and to devise a plan to ensure resilience and future growth.

“Stress testing is as much art as it is science; good judgment is as important as measuring and evaluating data. It is a critical part of a holistic risk management approach to deliver robust and forward-looking contingency planning, which helps to ensure resilience during times of stress,” said Paula Felipe, IFC’s Financial Institutions Group Asia Pacific Risk Management Advisory Lead.

Full Story

Iraq: Al-Najaf Governorate Reference Map 2020 (5 May 2020)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:43:49 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Iraq
Sources: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, iMMAP

Please refer to the attached map.

Full Story

Philippines: DSWD DROMIC Report #3 on the Armed Conflict in Brgy. Kidama, Matalam, North Cotabato as of as of 01 June 2020, 4PM

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:42:44 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Philippines
Source: Government of the Philippines

SUMMARY

On 09 May 2020, an armed conflict transpired between two (2) groups in Barangays Nunguan, Balatican, Kalakacan, and Balabac in Pikit, North Cotabato, which resulted to the displacement of thousands of families.

Source: DSWD-FO XII

I. Status of Affected Families / Persons

A total of 2,679 families or 11,094 persons were affected by the armed conflict in 4 barangays in Pikit, North Cotabato (see Table 1).

Full Story

Iraq: Al-Qadissiya Governorate Reference Map 2020 (5 May 2020)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:41:52 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Iraq
Sources: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, iMMAP

Please refer to the attached map.

Full Story

Philippines: DSWD DROMIC Report #1 on the Armed Conflict in Brgy. Kawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon as of 27 May 2020, 6PM

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:40:39 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Philippines
Source: Government of the Philippines

SUMMARY

On 22 May 2020 at 4PM, an armed conflict transpired between the New People’s Army and the Philippine Army in Sitio Spring, Sitio Upper Spring and Sitio New Tibugawan, Barangay Kawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon which resulted to the displacement of families in the area.

Source: DSWD-FO X

I. Status of Affected Families / Persons

A total of 198 families or 882 persons were affected by the armed conflict in Barangay Kayawan in San Fernando, Bukidnon (see Table 1).

II. Status of Displaced Families / Persons Inside Evacuation Centers

A total of 198 families or 882 persons took temporary shelter at Poblacion, Kawayan Covered Court (see Table 2).

Full Story

Iraq: Al-Sulaymaniyah Governorate Reference Map 2020 (5 May 2020)

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:39:50 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Iraq
Sources: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, iMMAP

Please refer to the attached map.

Full Story

Philippines: DSWD DROMIC Report #21 on Typhoon “Ambo” as of 01 June 2020, 6PM

Tue, 02 Jun 2020 02:37:24 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Philippines
Source: Government of the Philippines

Situation Overview

“VONGFONG” entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on 10 May 2020 and was named “Ambo” as the 1st Philippine tropical cyclone for 2020. On 11 May 2020, “Ambo” slightly intensifies while moving slowly westward over the Philippine Sea. On 14 May 2020, the eye of Typhoon “Ambo” was located based on all available data including those from Virac Doppler Radar in the vicinity of San Jose De Buan, Samar. “Ambo” weakened into a Low Pressure Area and exited PAR on 18 May 2020.

Source: DOST-PAGASA Severe Weather Bulletin

I. Status of Affected Families / Persons

A total of 140,042 families or 578,151 persons were affected in 560 barangays in Regions I, II, III, VIII and CAR (see Table 1).

Full Story