South Asia has been hit hard by a second wave of COVID-19 infections. In India, experts believe infections are underreported, even as the country records nearly 350,000 new cases every day. The crisis is exacerbated by limited hospital beds and oxygen supply, and there have been recent reports of vaccinated individuals getting infected, increasing fears about the variant spreading in the country.
In neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, lockdowns and travel restrictions have been reimposed as the number of infections has hit new records. Vaccinations are slow to reach those in need, while a lack of information has created an additional barrier to widespread inoculations.
Throughout the region, state and social welfare agencies are struggling to support children and young people who have lost one or both parents, become caretakers for their parents or younger siblings, or are out of school and without access to safe spaces, food, and basic hygiene supplies.
GFC’s partners in South Asia are uniquely positioned to support their communities. They are providing direct emergency support to young people and their communities, including food, hygiene supplies, and medicine. They are also continuing to find ways to mitigate the long-term consequences of the pandemic through their existing programs for children and youth promoting livelihoods, gender equity, education, and safety.
Partners such as Local Education and Economic Development Organization (LEEDO) in Bangladesh are providing food to children and families whose livelihoods are affected by new lockdowns, while Sanjog in Pakistan continues to provide nutritional and hygiene support to children being held in jails who are mostly invisible to the community. In Alipurduar, India, Rural Aid is working hard to raise awareness of vaccine safety and hygiene best practices in rural communities.
Our partners are also planning to address the gaps left by response and recovery efforts carried out by their governments. In Bangladesh, GFC partner Alor Pothe Nobojatray Foundation (APON) plans to distribute mobile oxygen cylinders in vulnerable communities. Shobujer Ovijan Foundation – also in Bangladesh – hopes to provide cash grant support to women and children living under the poverty line, particularly women domestic workers and women in the ready-made garment industry whose livelihoods have been affected by lockdowns. In India, Rural Aid has procured personal protective equipment and suits and – in partnership with local health department officials and the police – will conduct awareness drives in communities where most people have little to no access to information about the virus. This lack of information has made these communities especially vulnerable, and cases are on a steep rise in urban and rural slums.
Header photo: Rural Aid staff conducting an awareness drive in Alipurduar, India. © Rural Aid
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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