In addition to causing fatalities on a massive scale, COVID-19 is severely overwhelming health care systems, significantly disrupting daily life, negatively affecting livelihoods, and causing enormous damage to economies. These factors have a disproportionately negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of those living in situations of poverty, inequality, and exploitation.
BRAC currently operates in 11 countries in Asia and Africa: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, with its headquarters in Bangladesh and a regional office in Kenya. BRAC is an organization built on the principle of standing with the most vulnerable, particularly in times of crisis, and is committed to supporting local communities and helping them respond to the outbreak, initially with humanitarian interventions, but transitioning quickly to socio-economic rehabilitation and development programmes in the coming weeks, months, and beyond.
Our Four Pronged Response Strategy
Prong One – Ensure the Safety and Security of Staff
BRAC must continuously ensure that its staff are safe and healthy so they can deliver services to the people for whom it exists, while still caring for themselves and their families. To do that, the organization is adhering to the principles of social distancing and preventing object-to-person infection and aligning its practices with the guidelines of host governments, the in-country United Nations (UN) body, and/or the World Health Organization (WHO).
Prong Two – Community Based Awareness and Infection Prevention and Control
BRAC is aligning all of its activities with the Infection Prevention Control Guidelines from the WHO. Staff are in communication with communities to identify how to best meet health and nutrition needs, as well as with community and religious leaders to use their platforms to promote practices that limit the spread of the virus, such as handwashing training and social distancing. If the risks of exposure grow, BRAC will increase its use of technology to share crucial information. BRAC will provide counseling and other needed services to those who require or seek psychosocial support. If the organization is unable to meet the needs, BRAC will direct them to qualified partners. BRAC will also be working with communities to provide resources and advice on how to manage working from home, engaging out of school children, and other challenges that are arising through the course of this crisis. All programmatic content is regionalized so it is appropriate for the varying cultural contexts in which the organization operates.
Prong Three – Partnering for Response in an Outbreak When it Happens
Leadership is participating in national COVID-19 task forces, allowing BRAC to coordinate with other stakeholders including the governments, community leaders, and other local and international NGOs with whom it has strong relationships. As the outbreak increases, the organization will complement the work of governments and the private sector on the clinical side, with engagement and assistance on the community side, to help track and manage the outbreak. Wherever possible, BRAC will continue running its existing development programs, adapting to the changing contexts and using technology-enabled platforms. It will also be working to understand how it can adjust its usual health care activities and provide remote services for non-COVID-19-related cases.
Prong Four – When People are Emerging from the Outbreak and Rejoining the Economy
When the outbreak has passed, we are committed to working with affected communities to rebuild and emerge stronger than before. Each Country Office will be commissioning and undertaking an ongoing assessment of economic hardships including income loss and other challenges to livelihoods that communities and beneficiaries may face immediately and in the longer term. These assessments will be developed jointly with in-country research organizations, such as universities, governments, and other agencies, and will be supported by BRAC University, as appropriate.Context specific economic rehabilitation and social reconstruction programs will be designed based on these assessments, giving priority to people who are already living in poverty, especially those living in ultra-poverty.
How you can help
Globally, BRAC is seeking $50 million USD in support of its COVID-19 response. The organization is prioritizing its efforts in a four-pronged strategy that will raise community awareness and prevent infections; optimize partnerships to maximize impact in outbreak situations; support economic revitalization for communities and individuals; and ensure the safety and security of all staff. We are taking collective action to slow the spread of the virus through partnerships with donors, local organizations, governments, and communities.
Concept papers with further details on BRAC’s COVID-19 response are available for each of BRAC’s operational countries upon request. As the context evolves, BRAC will adjust its strategy and its components in each operational country as appropriate.