COVID-19: Evolving to serve those who need it most

by 15th Jul 2020
COVID-19: Evolving to serve those who need it most

It’s hard to believe the changes in the world today. They are coming so fast and so completely that we can lose track of what’s happening. It can be hard to feel hopeful as COVID-19 cases rise, economies crash, and underlying inequality skyrockets. In the upheaval, there is also hope.

The answer now is the same as it was in March: the only way out is through, and the only way through is together. We’re seeing extraordinary examples of women leading through crisis. In some places, men stuck at home during quarantine are starting to help with childcare for the first time in their lives. Savings groups are building CARE packages for the poorest people in their communities, and providing shelter for women at risk.

At CARE, we’ve had to transform our responses, too. This isn’t just a health pandemic—it’s a global crisis on every dimension. So how are we stepping up to meet the challenge? How are we changing to better serve the people who need it most? How have we grown our COVID-19 response faster than any programming CARE has ever had—to reach nearly 12 million people?

What have we changed? 

  • We’re reaching 31 times more people. From 380,000 people reached on March 20, CARE is now reaching 11.7 million. We’re also responding to COVID-19 in more countries, from 55 in March to 67 today. That includes domestic responses in the United States, where we’ve launched a CARE package, and the first-ever US focused Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA).
  • We’re responding to the whole crisis—not just the basics. In March, 66% of our response was directed to water, handwashing, and hygiene messages. Now, that number is 25%. We’re using more resources to help people get access to health care (56% of response), respond to food crisis (10% of response), and get Gender Based Violence (GBV) services (7% of response).
  • We’re working to end GBV. Now, 89% of CARE’s responses have a gender based violence component, compared to 35% in March.
  • We’re influencing others. In March, only 21 country offices were advocating for change with national and global leaders. Now, 33 countries have advocacy efforts in place, especially around Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA). The Secretary General of the United Nations read the global RGA. The government of Malawi asked CARE to write a Malawi-specific RGA after seeing the findings of the global RGA. The African Development Bank is reading regional RGAs as part of their attempts to create a gendered response to COVID-19.
  • We offer participants more flexibility. At the beginning of COVID, only 17 offices were doing cash-based response, compared to 33 countries now. This allows more than 300,000 people to pick what they need most to respond to COVID-19, instead of CARE choosing for them.

How are we doing it? 

  • We’re adapting more programmes. By 20 March, 31 CARE country offices had started adapting their programs to COVID-19’s realities. In July, 67 countries have adapted some or all of their work to respond to crisis.
  • We’re better informed—especially about gender. In March, we had yet to complete any RGAs, and as of July 13, we’ve published 28. At the beginning, we only collected data in 26 countries (and sex disaggregated data in only 19). Now, we’re collecting data in 59 countries, and 54 of them can separate out data for women specifically. So far, we’ve spoken to more than 6,500 people about what they need.
  • We’re a little more mobile. In March, 17 country offices were completely confined and couldn’t deliver response. Now, only 9 offices are so highly restricted, and 58 countries are able to do at least some of their work.
  • We’re partnering more effectively. 56% of CARE’s country offices are partnering with women’s rights organisations—something we weren’t even measuring at the beginning of the project.

We’re raising money for people who need it most. So far, CARE has raised more than £57 million ($72 million) in additional money, and reallocated £29 million (nearly $37 million) of our existing budgets to COVID-19 response.

Emily Janoch

Emily Janoch is Senior Technical Advisor on Knowledge Management for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share practical experience on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. She focuses on learning from programming and using that learning to improve impact.

With four years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa, 10 years of development experience, and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, Emily is especially interested in community-led development. She has experience in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender programming, and has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters' in Public Policy in International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School.