THE CRISIS SURROUNDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC CONTINUES TO INTENSIFY. THE EFFECTS CONCERN EVERYONE. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES WILL HIT THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY MOST DISADVANTAGED THE HARDEST.
Despite the current uncertainty, we have our sights firmly set on our vision of a world in which disadvantaged children and young people around the world grow up to become engaged, healthy, educated and economically active members of society. In the following overview, you will find out what influence the pandemic has on our commitment.
A few months ago we reported on our response to COVID-19. We were able to help our local partners in Uganda, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Colombia to meet the challenges of the crisis with support strategies and emergency relief measures such as the provision of water and soap, disinfectants, protective masks and other hygiene products. But even after the emergency aid and the implementation of protective measures in all projects, there was still much to do. The further course of the project was and is dependent on the situation on the ground. Many factors play a role here: specifications by local authorities determined by the course of the pandemic, the compatibility of project activities with social distancing and lockdowns, postponement of planned activities, existing infrastructure. For example, conceptual work is possible in many places, while training and workshops are more restricted or had to be adapted.
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, DIFFERENT MEASURES, SIMILAR CHALLENGES
Despite global differences in the implementation and scope of measures, according to UNESCO almost all countries are affected by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 1.6 billion learners were or are unable to attend school. In Papua New Guinea, for example, where, in cooperation with City Mission, a local non-profit organisation, we offer young people new opportunities through vocational training and basic entrepreneurial education, all schools and training centres were closed for around three months. The entire population was hit hard by this. Existing challenges are intensifying. Our project activities were put on hold, alternatives such as online teaching were not possible due to the lack of infrastructure. However, with protective concepts such as hand hygiene, wearing masks and keeping distance, the training sessions could slowly be resumed with a smaller number of participants. The project is now coming to an end and the exchange with City Mission is particularly close, as a final project trip for monitoring and evaluation will apparently not be possible in the near future.
Due to the pandemic, there has also been an increase in teenage pregnancies in large parts of Africa (Source: World Vision). These are associated with school closures, lack of sexual and reproductive health education and curfews. Girls from economically disadvantaged households are particularly vulnerable. The Ebola crisis has already shown that (sexual) violence, child marriages or school drop-outs among girls increase significantly in such times. The lack of school meals during school closures is also a problem, as they make a significant contribution to the nutrition of many children. Our project in Zimbabwe, where we want to give girls and young women a sustainable future through education, psychosocial support and the teaching of organic farming, is also affected by this.