COVID-19’s Impact on Poverty
COVID-19 has changed the world. With millions of confirmed cases and death tolls mounting, the challenges seem overwhelming. In the 25 nations where Compassion partners with local churches, the long-term effects of the coronavirus will be devastating.
The United States has faced unprecedented trials as a result of COVID-19, including the harsh effects of isolation, more than 36 million people struggling with unemployment, and significant loss of life. But in low- and middle-income nations throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America, COVID-19 is compounding the already-dire challenges faced by those in poverty. As severe and troubling as the fallout is for us, its effects on these regions will result in tremendous suffering:
- In what some have described as a poverty tsunami, the effects of the coronavirus could push as many as 580 million more people into poverty.
- Food insecurity is also a growing threat, with some projections showing as many as 265 million people on the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.
- As many as 472 million people are in the high-risk category for COVID-19, many of them in already-suffering nations.
Sources: UN University (April 2020); World Food Program (April 16, 2020); World Health Organization (April 17, 2020); Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Brief 53 (2020); INFORM COVID-19 Risk Index Version 0.1.2 (2020).
God’s Power Through His Church
Despite the tremendous hardships brought about by COVID-19, as followers of Christ we look to God for strength and wisdom. As we strive to help “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40, NIV), together the body of Christ serves as God’s hands and feet, showing His love and sharing the good news of Jesus.
Local churches are exceptionally well-positioned to provide urgent and necessary help. They know their communities and the families they serve. Ultimately, we know that God will provide the victory over this destructive virus, but He works through His people.
Serving the Most Vulnerable
The critical needs brought about by the coronavirus present clear opportunities to serve those living in extreme poverty. Vulnerable populations struggle daily under normal circumstances to provide food for their families. Due to COVID-19 these everyday trials are amplified. In addition to church partners’ passion to share the good news of Jesus and emphasize child protection, key areas in need include:
- Food security and nutrition — In response to hunger, our church partners seek to distribute food kits that include rice, eggs, meat, milk, corn and other non-perishable dry goods, or the resources for families to procure these. Churches also ensure pregnant and nursing moms receive appropriate nutrition.
- Health and hygiene — Providing kits is critical, especially during a pandemic. Church-provided resources include supplies like hand sanitizer, soap, vitamins, supplements, household cleaning supplies and protective masks (or the materials to make them), as well as providing hygiene education to reduce the spread of illness, including community awareness activities.
- Shelter — Providing shelter so that families feel secure in their homes as they battle the virus and serve others, including much-needed rent assistance to families most at risk of losing their homes due to inability to work and pay rent during the coronavirus crisis.
- Hope — In addition, churches offer emotional and spiritual hope, empathy, prayers and kindness in the midst of suffering. This genuine, Christ-centered support is foundational to all these efforts.
Covid-19 Status in Peru
Peru is ranked sixth in confirmed cases worldwide. Since March 2020, compulsory social isolation and restricted movement have been instituted by the government in Peru to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The effects of quarantine are especially devastating for families who rely on daily income to survive. Without income, many families are unable to buy food or pay rent. Compassion is responding through emergency provisions of food, hygiene supplies and other assistance as needed.
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Peru, and about 85% of Peru’s ICU beds with ventilators are currently occupied. The country remains under a nationwide state of emergency that includes self-quarantine and closed borders. Peru’s national state of emergency has been extended to July 31, with quarantine measures lifted throughout most of the country on July 1. Curfews have been reduced in most regions to 10 p.m. to 4 p.m. Large gatherings remain suspended, and commercial businesses must operate at a 50% capacity.
Since April 2020, Compassion’s objective has been to support all beneficiaries with food, health support and COVID-19 awareness and prevention education. This involves pastors, project staff, and available advocates who share information and measures with families through calls, visits, zoom links, videos on YouTube, Facebook Live and WhatsApp. Compassion representatives have met with radio leaders to share COVID-19 prevention tips and spiritual encouragement. Although each community has differences, the population context is evaluated to strengthen the weakest areas.
All Compassion frontline church partners have put children’s and youths’ activities on hold. The national staff and church partners are monitoring children and families who are vulnerable due to extreme poverty, possible abuse or health complications. Church workers are working closely with local authorities to deliver supplies to families, and have been able to distribute 161,319 food packs and 49,125 hygiene kits. Additionally, they have helped 1,370 individuals access medical support during the quarantine. Tutors and pastors are providing virtual counseling as needed to beneficiaries and caregivers.
Action steps include the following:
- Maintain communication with all beneficiaries.
- Identify and visit the most vulnerable beneficiaries.
- Manage permits for the purchase and distribution of food.
- Buy and distribute food and hygiene kits for beneficiaries.
- Lead talks on hygiene, protection, current state of the pandemic, etc.
- Manage health care.
Current Compassion Activities in Peru:
- Health Focus: A Protocol for Suspected or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 was enacted. This allows necessary steps in the event of COVID-19 in the beneficiaries, relatives of beneficiaries, and project volunteers. Accordingly, telemedicine was implemented as a tool for treating COVID-19 cases. A team of doctors communicates with the most vulnerable families, keeping the safety and child protection protocols. To do this, Compassion hired doctors who are making phone calls to our most vulnerable beneficiaries (young children and those with previous illnesses, from Lima and the provinces). There are approximately 5,000 children on the list. If necessary, doctors prescribe medicine and send the prescription by WhatsApp. The family buys the drug and the project helps them if needed. The doctors prepare a report of the calls and send the report to Compassion staff. Projects are also participating in hygiene trainings. To counter anemia and malnutrition, baskets of emergency food are being delivered. The partner churches are managing their activities with the support of the local authorities, the police, and the fire department. For confirmed cases of COVID-19, support includes medical advice, food provision, medical reimbursement and more.
- Educational Focus: Public school classes began through the virtual platform of the Ministry of Education. Compassion tutors monitor school children and young people, there is a plan to deliver school kits (notebooks, various supplies) with the support of local authorities for delivery.
- Socio-emotional area: Virtual counseling for parents and children is provided with messages of encouragement and hygiene kits. Guidance is being given on child protection.
- Spiritual Area: evangelistic materials are sent with the delivery of food baskets. Pastors carry out virtual ministry. Parents who are at home support their children with the Bible lessons shared by project staff. Trainings are scheduled for pastors on topics such as: managing church finances during the crisis, remote counseling, etc.
Stand With Children
Although the harsh realities of the effects of COVID-19 on those in poverty are sobering and may seem overwhelming, we know that God can overcome any obstacles. Sharing the gospel and helping children and families through our actions is what God has called us to do. Specifically, Compassion’s projections indicate a need over the next 12 months for $50 million in disaster relief and $100 million to cover support for some 250,000 unsponsored children.
Your gift of $25,000 will allow us to continue serving vulnerable children. We will never stop caring for the marginalized and vulnerable. Together we pray, take action and rise as one Global Church. Please join us today in responding to these critical and urgent needs in 25 nations.
*All gifts will be used to meet the most critical needs of millions of children in poverty, as well as their families and communities around the world. We desire to be good stewards of your gift. If funding exceeds COVID-19 response needs, gifts will be used to address similar needs.