ChildFund's Response to COVID-19 in the Pacific

ChildFund's Response to COVID-19 in the Pacific

ChildFund New Zealand is working in the Pacific region to support some of the world’s most vulnerable communities amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“COVID-19 has presented us with one of the biggest humanitarian crises we have ever seen and new challenges as we continue our commitment to supporting children and their families in the Pacific region,” says ChildFund New Zealand CEO Paul Brown.

“We are taking all measures to prepare families for COVID-19 and help fight the spread of the disease in communities where basic amenities, medical and sanitation supplies are limited and high rates of pre-existing medical conditions significantly increase the chance for virus transmission.”

ChildFund is focused on the densely-populated Kiribati – 60,000 people live within the 16km² area of its capital South Tarawa – where many households do not have running water and access to soap and clean water is limited.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kiribati. ChildFund is however, preparing for if and when it does arrive by delivering adequate soap, water cleanliness tests and information about hand-washing to families in Kiribati.

For the past 26 years, ChildFund has been working in vulnerable communities around the Pacific region, providing clean water, toilets for schools and homes, and training in good hygiene practices. It’s had a trusted presence on the ground in Kiribati for the past four years, with the ability to reach thousands of people.

ChildFund is now coordinating with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Red Cross and Unicef, and visiting households in Kiribati to share life-saving hygiene kits and information about what to do in the event of a crisis. ChildFund is working to get important sanitation supplies to communities to mitigate transmission.

They hope to reach 13,000 people across 1,600 households in Betio, the largest town in South Tarawa, 76 percent of the total population of the town. In New Zealand, we rely heavily on social media and technology to spread critical information, but in Kiribati, in-person communication (while it is still possible) is crucial. 

“The families that we coordinate with in Betio have told our staff they are feeling anxious. They are uneasy about potentially having to leave their families or self-isolating when it’s not inherently their way of living and not always practical to achieve. Our role is help keep the community calm and informed, and we are taking all measures to prepare families for COVID-19,” says Brown.

“ChildFund is mobilised to respond to the specific needs of families living in Kiribati. We are working on the advice of the Kiribati Ministry of Health and collaborating and coordinating with government partners, local organisations and MFAT to ensure our information and support reaches the 13,000 people we engage with,” says Brown.

To achieve its goal to get hygiene kits and personalised emergency household crisis plans to 1600 households, ChildFund hopes to raise $64,000 from its COVID-19 appeal. The work ChildFund New Zealand is currently carrying out in Kiribati is funded by MFAT, meaning that every dollar Kiwis donate towards this appeal will be matched.

ChildFund wishes to thank the New Zealand public for their support over the past three decades, which has enabled the organisation in its commitment to help children to thrive.

This week, ChildFund New Zealand staff have been channelling their resources to check in on the health and wellbeing of their Kiwi supporters. Through emails and telephone calls, they hope to reach all of their valuable supporters during this unprecedented time.

“Family has never been more important than it is now. We are grateful for the support we’ve had over the years from Kiwis, and we’re committed to doing what we can to give back to them. Just a phone call at this time can brighten up someone’s day,” says Brown.

“It’s a time for collaboration and coordination around the world. Let’s support our Pacific neighbours as well as our own people here in New Zealand as best we can under these unprecedented circumstances,” adds Brown.

To find out how you can help make a difference in the Pacific at this crucial time or donate $15 for a hygiene kit, or $25 for an emergency household crisis plan please visit: www.childfund.org.nz.

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact 

Linda Shackelford 027 886 1760 linda@expandpr.co.nz  
Bonar Bell 022 580 4610 Bonar@childfund.org.nz

About ChildFund New Zealand

For the past 30 years, ChildFund New Zealand has engaged thousands of Kiwis in its mission to help children and youth to thrive. ChildFund worldwide supports programmes that improve the lives of nearly 13 million children, youth and family members in 63 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific. With its disaster preparedness and emergency response team, ChildFund works globally to prepare communities for disasters and has been there when Kiwi support has been needed the most: Indian Ocean Tsunami, Nepal Earthquake, Philippines Typhoon, East Africa Droughts and Vanuatu Hurricane. For more information visit childfund.org.nz


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