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Home  >  News  >  Tearfund Launches Covid-19 Campaign


Tearfund Launches Covid-19 Campaign

Maintaining a distance from others and practising good hand hygiene is a ‘herculean’ task for many of the world’s poorest communities, says Christian international development agency Tearfund Scotland, as it launches an appeal for funds to step up its work in response to coronavirus.  

“We are very concerned about some of the poorest countries, where life is already difficult and there is little infrastructure to deal with coronavirus,” says Graeme McMeekin, Tearfund’s Acting Scotland Director. “Living in a crowded household in a densely populated community, such as a refugee camp, and having to walk a long way for water, makes it much harder for people to take apparently simple measures such as social distancing and increased handwashing. These become incredibly hard asks, piled on top of an already challenging daily life.”

Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, home to almost a million Rohingya, is the largest refugee camp in the world. “Sanitation and hygiene facilities in the camp are already inadequate and the streets are narrow and crowded, so social distancing is extremely difficult, and currently there aren’t enough hand-washing facilities,” says Sudarshan Kodooru, Tearfund’s Country Director in Bangladesh. “Tearfund is working both in the camps and in the host communities around, distributing leaflets about handwashing, distancing and recognising symptoms, and giving out hygiene kits containing soap, sanitiser and detergent powder, as well as installing 200 community washing facilities and giving food to those in quarantine.”

Rita Rani Bala and her family, who live in a village near the camp, survive on the very low income from her husband’s work as a street trader. The lockdown in Bangladesh, currently in force until May 5, has halted not only his ability to work, but that of their nine neighbouring households, most of whom support themselves through day labour. “We need these hygiene items very badly for keeping us safe and secured,” they said, “But we have no ability to purchase them at this moment.”

Rita’s community has received hygiene kits from Tearfund’s local partner, along with information on how to use the items to keep themselves safe from coronavirus.  "We have never used hand sanitiser in our life, but now we are afraid to hear about the coronavirus and its contagious nature," they said. "Now we will continue our hand-washing using soaps and hand sanitizer, and keep our households neat and clean."

Around the world Tearfund is carrying out targeted hygiene promotion and education, constructing taps and water tanks, distributing essential hygiene kits and improving sanitation, distributing food to vulnerable people, and responding to psychosocial needs, as well as delivering emergency aid to the most vulnerable people and their communities.

“We know from our experience working in the Ebola crisis in West Africa that faith leaders play a vital role in conveying public health messages to communities,” Graeme McMeekin said, “So where possible, we’re working with church partners to promote the right messages to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to correct any lies and misinformation about the disease. Faith leaders are trusted and known members of their communities to whom people naturally turn for advice, support and information."

Tearfund’s hygiene training guidelines have already gone out to 250 partners, which will benefit almost 15,000 local churches and their wider communities. Resources are continually being developed, translated and published on Tearfund Learn. The charity is also in close contact with other humanitarian organisations to ensure they are drawing on the experience of the wider community, as well as coordinating to reach as many vulnerable communities as possible.

To make a donation in support of Tearfund’s work responding to coronavirus around the world, visit 

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