General Impact of Covid-19 In Your Country
The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Pakistan was that of a Karachi student returning from pilgrimage in Iran on February 26, 2020. Initially, there was a great panic and people were not moving out of their houses. Only the daily wagers were looking for some work to get some income to buy food. The virus initially wreaked havoc on fragile medical systems and underfunded health agencies were pushed to a breaking point. Authorities was warned that Pakistan would likely see more than one million cases by July 2020 and many hotspot areas were locked down in many big cities again. But situation was well managed and smart lock down was introduced by Government. The government has announced new preventive and precautionary measures to counter the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan by imposing 50% work-from-home rule for workers in public and private sector organizations, a fine of PKR 100 for failing to wear a mask in public places and a ban on all indoor gatherings of all kinds. The government has ordered all educational institutions to be closed from Nov 26 to Jan 10, 2021.
It can be said with certainty that Pakistan is witnessing the start of the dreaded second wave. The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Pakistan, for 4 consecutive days last week the number of daily new cases topped more than 3,000 per day. In the last 24 hours 2,417 new cases and 45 deaths were reported which indicates a definite spike in COVID-19 numbers since the last three months.
So far as on January 26, 2021, 535,914 Covid-19 confirmed cases and 11,376 deaths have been reported, recovered cases are 490,126 which represents 91% of recoveries.
Pakistan does not have the fiscal space to revive its economy, to look after the most vulnerable section of society. Out of a population of 220 million, almost 150m were counted among the most vulnerable section including the non-formal sector, daily wagers and weekly wagers, whose families are dependent on them earning money so that they could eat. Now, the situation is getting better and economic activities are being restored. Price hike has been the major long-term impact on the lives of poor households.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only created a global health crisis but has also created a learning crisis across the county for children and adolescents of school going age. During the first wave of COVID-19, education systems in Pakistan, were adversely affected as the pandemic prompted a country-wide closures of almost all institutions. School closures and Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) adopted during the pandemic forced school managements to adapt innovative measures such as online classes and remote learning through WhatsApp groups.
Organization Coped with The Challenges/Difficulties Of COVID-19
Responding to the growing global pandemic in Pakistan, COVID-19 spread is continuing in Pakistan and it has impacted poor household in many ways. Caritas Pakistan developed guidelines for the staff and volunteers at National Secretariat and Diocesan Units. Caritas Pakistan also provided emergency safety kits to staff and volunteers. Caritas Pakistan National Secretariat made efforts to mobilize resources and various response interventions were implemented by diocesan units in close coordination with Parish Priest and Bishop of the Diocese. Then there was series of Zoom meetings conducted to discuss the scenario on ground and decisions making.
Caritas Pakistan responded the needs of the communities, and the overall objective of this response was to contribute to the prevention of COVID-19 and to ensure safety of vulnerable communities.
- Over 6,000 households increased access to food packages, longer-term food security (cash for work) and nutrition supplements for vulnerable children
- 1,500 households have increased access to hygiene supplies and hygiene promotion awareness
- 50 hand washing facilities have been installed, serving 4000-4500 individuals daily
- 10 disinfection gates have been installed in Churches and Community buildings
- 25,000 individuals have been provided with critical COVID-19 related information and appropriate IEC Material for continuous improvement
- A total of 890 people attended 35 awareness raising sessions on COVID-19 precautionary measures
- 40 health staff members have access to Personal Preventative Equipment (PPE)
- 89 health staff improved knowledge of safe practices in COVID-19 situation through 8 trainings
- 1 health facility was equipped and capacitated in screening of patients
- 900 Children, youth and women have been provided with psychosocial support.
- 264 farmers from Sargodha and Khushab districts, facilitated by social mobilizers received Government Cash Support of PKR 12000 from the government.
- 190 farmers under SAFBIN program benefitted from various government schemes and received wheat flour on subsidized rate; poultry units, subsidized gram and vegetable seed etc. This support helped farmers to enhance their access to food in the wake of COVID-19
- Farmers adapted to COVID 19 in many ways. Since all social activities were banned, therefore family members themselves acted as laborers and saved labor cost. This way, family experienced a positive “engagement of youth” in different agricultural activities.
- The farmers having homesteads, livestock and poultry, raised income by selling eggs, milk and vegetables. Such farmers also supported other needy farmers
All progress was achieved through various interventions including following
- COVID-19 Response Fund from Caritas International
- Diocesan Project grants received from different Catholic agencies
- Support provided by respective Diocesan Units and Parishes
- In kind donations from local philanthropist and local organization
Localization in response to COVID-19
Caritas Pakistan is national level organization having presence through Diocesan Caritas Offices all over the country. National COVID-19 response interventions were based on local priorities. National office implemented COVID-19 response through Diocesan Units and close coordination with Parishes, local community groups. The process adapted by Caritas Pakistan provided opportunity to communities to take decision of their choice based on realistic needs.
The supported provided by Caritas Pakistan to Diocesan Units resulted in improved response capacities. Diocesan Caritas Offices also mobilized resources for their own projects including in kind and cash grants as well.
Caritas Pakistan had also experienced more diversities in humanitarian response in COVID-19 and improved coordination of Diocesan Caritas office with Government authorities and also working relationship with other humanitarian organisations working on ground.