In the face of the unprecedented catastrophe created by COVID-19, BRAC is determined to stand beside the world’s most vulnerable people in all the 11 countries that it operates in
Responding to large-scale challenges through innovation and rapid response is in BRAC’s DNA. Through in-depth, on-the-ground assessments, they have seen the devastating physical and economic impact on the already overburdened and underserved communities where they work, particularly women and children.
To immediately respond to COVID-19, BRAC International (BI) developed a four-pronged strategic framework to guide the response efforts. This included ensuring safety and security for all staff, conducting widespread awareness-raising campaigns, partnering with governments, community leaders, and local and international NGOs to coordinate our response, and gradually moving into widespread economic and social recovery efforts.
The four-pronged strategy is being used as a guideline to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and its negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of BI’s program participants, in collaboration with other stakeholders in each country. So far, the BRAC International country teams have reached more than 44.7 million community members by conducting awareness-raising interventions and infection prevention and control mechanisms, distributed over 1.3 million communication materials, given over 300,000 soap and infection control materials, provided healthcare support to around 538 people and arranged food and income support to over 312 families.
In addition, BI supported governments in Afghanistan, Uganda, Liberia, and Sierra Leone with a range of interventions ranging from stepping up through strengthening health service systems, managing health facilities and programs on behalf of provincial governments to the provisioning of hand washing materials, COVID-19 related communication materials and coordination support of national programs.
In most countries, BRAC country offices became integral parts of national coordination committees led by the respective host governments. In a number of countries, like Liberia, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, their teams also engaged in NGO coalitions to respond to the epidemic. In a couple of cases, country teams even took up leadership roles in specific partnership projects of those coalitions.
Some of BRAC International’s key response activities during COVID-19:
• Raising public awareness on personal hygiene, hand washing techniques, coughing etiquette, and protocols of social distancing through community engagement initiatives and social media platforms.
• Creating country-specific communication materials translated in local languages.
• Installing hand washing stations at all our offices, ensuring the availability of soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
• Restricting routine operations and focusing on alternative ways of programming including training frontline workers to actively take part in raising awareness at the community level on protective measures and hygiene practices.
• Distributing PPE in the community for prevention and protection.
• Disbursing food and income supplements
• Strengthening health systems and case management support
• Providing psychosocial support
Additionally, BRAC’s research teams have conducted three monthly food and income security assessment surveys to track how the lives and livelihoods of their program participants have been affected by the economic downturn.
BRAC is continuously collecting data from the ground to understand the lived realities of those they support. They are collecting case stories and conducting rapid research to share through their weekly situation reports to inform their network of partners and stakeholders. They are taking special care to ensure that their activities follow the tenets of gender equality and diversity. They are paying special attention to children and women, while recognizing the diverse needs of people with disabilities.
They are rapidly adapting to the unprecedented nature of this crisis, turning to innovation and technology and linking it to their community presence. BRAC is committed to working with affected communities, so that they can rebuild and emerge stronger than before.
Musharrat Bidita is a deputy manager at Communications, BRAC International.