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New COVID-19 fund to help vulnerable communities in low-income countries

  • by Helen James
  • 27 Mar 20

News Article

Start Network is setting up a new COVID-19 fund to anticipate and respond to critical virus-related humanitarian needs in low-income countries. 

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreads across low-income countries, it is critical to anticipate, prepare for and respond to the human impact of the virus, particularly in those communities already living with weak public health systems and poor public services. Start Network, with 53 NGOs operating globally, is strategically positioned to respond to the current and emerging humanitarian challenges associated with COVID-19, and ensure the humanitarian response is broad-based and reaches the local level.

Start Network members have demonstrated expertise in the prevention and control of infectious diseases across the globe, making them particularly well-placed to respond to the humanitarian challenge associated with COVID-19. Past alerts raised through the Start Fund include responses to Cholera, Dengue fever, and Ebola.

This dedicated fund will be part of the Start Fund, and similarly to the Start Fund, the Start Fund COVID-19’s niche would be to provide critically needed funding for small to medium crises, neglected or underfunded aspects of the broader COVID-19 crisis, and opportunity for members to implement anticipatory and responsive humanitarian actions. This could include supporting national responses or spikes in numbers of cases in specific areas with community-level health activities (infection prevention and control, testing/contact tracing), gaps in responses (sectoral, geographical etc), as well as non-health sector interventions (WASH, shelter, FSL, education, protection, food security and livelihoods), targeting particularly vulnerable communities.

Start Network is working across its partners in order to ensure this new fund responds to gaps left by other funding architecture being set up. The Network is also talking to donors and it expects to open the new fund to members shortly.

Start Network has already begun responding to COVID-19, through the Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF)  with projects starting today to prevent the spread of the virus to refugee populations in Cameroon. Three agencies—International Medical Corps, Plan International and Solidarités International will carry out various activities, including training of health personnel and community leaders, raising awareness of good hygiene practices, the installation of handwashing stations, and the distribution of WASH kits. 

An alert was also activated by Start Fund Bangladesh to support the existing national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19. The alert was raised by Eco Social Development Organization (ESDO) and Polli Shahajogi Bishawyk Sangstha (ARCO) and is focused on the districts of Naogaon, Panchagarh, Thakurgaon and Nilphamari.

Read more about the Start Fund.

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  • by Helen James