A new report from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, highlights the significant impact of the agency’s global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including 422 projects in 96 countries so far.
Since the onset of the pandemic, ADRA has been responding globally to help nearly 20 million people through the significant health challenges and economic impact the pandemic has created. This global response has resulted in historic collaboration between ADRA and the Adventist Church during a time when many churches were closed.
Across the South Pacific region, ADRA created 49 new projects, serving 125,000 people. The 49 projects totaled $US1.9 million and were implemented in at least six countries.
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), ADRA launched prevention awareness initiatives with multiple communication and education campaigns to ensure communities understand the threat and reduce their risk of infection. ADRA also trained women and other vulnerable community members to make soap, masks and other products to sell to improve incomes in the community.
In Australia, ADRA provided food and counselling to more than 10,000 low-income residents, migrant families and vulnerable international students who cannot access government benefits.
“We know that one of the best ways to fight this virus is through good hygiene practices. Many of ADRA’s projects already focus on health, sanitation and hygiene. We expanded the scope of these projects to include education around how to reduce the spread of the virus,” said ADRA Australia CEO Denison Grellmann. “But there was also a need to expand or create projects to address the demand for food services and growing mental health services as people faced unemployment and growing difficulties. We are beyond grateful for the support we have received during this tough period that has made this life-saving work possible.”
ADRA’s COVID-19 Global Report outlines how the agency pivoted from existing development projects to scale up a major response by establishing a global taskforce to implement a new approach.
“ADRA reaffirms its commitment to continue to respond to the urgent needs of disadvantaged communities heavily impacted by the COVID-19 global crisis. Our global emergency taskforce, in coordination with the Adventist Church and our trusted partners, is making significant progress in helping vulnerable families recover from the difficult challenges of this pandemic,” said ADRA president Michael Kruger.
“We are grateful to the Adventist Church for the significant support it has provided, as well as to our donors and volunteers for their continued assistance. We pray that this aid will give comfort and hope to every person we help and a sense of Jesus’ love and compassion.”
Seventy percent of ADRA’s COVID-19 response operations were established or adapted rapidly in partnership with the Adventist Church with minimal or no funding. Despite the office closures and disruptions caused by the pandemic, ADRA successfully executed projects in multiple countries and multiple continents including the following regions:
NORTH AMERICA – 69 PROJECTS
ADRA partnered with the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) to donate $US4 million in personal protective equipment (PPEs), medical supplies, food and cash assistance to Adventist-run food pantries across the United States and Canada. The donation supported medical facilities facing severe supply shortages in US suburban communities such as Texas, California, Maryland and New York. More than 200 pallets of PPEs, face shields, gloves and essential medical supplies were delivered to the facilities. In Canada, 510 Adventist volunteers from 39 churches also delivered food baskets, hygiene kits, psycho-social support and cash vouchers to nearly 30,000 people.
INTER-AMERICA – 10 PROJECTS
ADRA used innovative ways to adapt or change existing projects and create new ones to support migrants, refugees and vulnerable populations during the pandemic. The initiatives, totalling $US339,000, ranged from health prevention awareness campaigns, mental health counseling, food security, crisis management training, to PPEs and medical supply donations, as well as water and sanitation projects. ADRA’s relief operations in this region covered at least nine countries, including Colombia, where hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist employees donated one day of their salary to support families affected by the pandemic. In El Salvador, efforts helped more than 6000 small business entrepreneurs and families working in agricultural projects to adapt their skills to continue earning livelihoods during the coronavirus crisis.
SOUTH AMERICA – 101 PROJECTS
ADRA worked closely with the Adventist church and local partners to respond to the region’s health, social and economic crisis. The response, valued at more than USD$8.8 million, included at least eight countries. The efforts featured mobile laundry and decontamination services in Argentina and Brazil where trained volunteers washed, dried and sanitised more than 20 tons of clothes regularly for COVID-19 patients. Initiatives also included public health training and assistance to support 13,000 recipients in over 47 health centres for the homeless and trafficked children and adolescents.
EUROPE – 32 PROJECTS
ADRA’s response in Europe raised local funds to support the most vulnerable populations in developing countries around the world, as well as those inside the European region. The projects, worth $US688,000, were located in some 14 countries. In the United Kingdom, ADRA focused on community hubs for the homeless, refugees and people with chronic conditions. In Hungary, children received laptops so they could study online. In Albania, students at risk of dropping out of school received tutoring videos via WhatsApp, and in Russia, ADRA volunteers made and distributed 70,000 masks for 35,000 people in disadvantaged communities and health workers.
Ten European ADRA offices supported humanitarian activities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Additional relief projects for the underserved communities are already underway in South Sudan, Yemen, Tanzania, Lebanon, Sudan, some West African countries, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
AFRICA – 47 PROJECTS
While COVID-19 cases in Africa have not surged at the same levels as other regions, the effects of the pandemic and recent natural disasters in the region have created a refugee and food security crisis. To address the challenges facing Africa, ADRA launched 47 projects, worth $US8 million, including activities focused on water and sanitation for more than 53,000 households and orphans, food and hygiene kits for more than 3600 displaced people in Mali, and protective gear and medical supplies for health professionals serving more than 72,0000 families in Mozambique.
ASIA- 75 PROJECTS
In Asia, ADRA worked closely with the Adventist Church as well as the European Union, governments, corporations, United Nations agencies and other local partners to ensure the development achievements of recent years were not lost. To this end, ADRA carried out 75 projects, worth nearly $US1.7 million, in at least 15 nations, and many activities focused on adapting existing development projects to educate communities about COVID-19 prevention. Other activities specialised in training community members to use proper sanitation and providing medical resources to community health centres. ADRA in Cambodia helped more than 10,000 households and 800 health workers through COVID-19 projects targeting community health centers. In the Philippines, ADRA leveraged partnerships with the Adventist University of the Philippines to provide psychosocial support for health workers. ADRA in Sri Lanka also leveraged funding to attract support from UNICEF to provide awareness about personal protective equipment, hygiene kits and hand-washing basins.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA REGION – 27 PROJECTS
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, ADRA covers 20 countries including Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. During the pandemic, ADRA has been meeting the emergency needs on the ground by forming alliances with local partners and the Adventist Church to increase COVID-19 awareness. The 27 projects in the region, totaling $US419,000, are supporting refugees, low-income residents, and families affected by civil wars and impacted by recent disasters, such as the Beirut (Lebanon) explosion that occurred in August. ADRA is also working to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by providing thousands of medical supplies and PPEs to hospitals that were damaged in the explosion serving vulnerable families and children. In Yemen, ADRA has sponsored COVID-19 prevention training and distributed hygiene kits to more than 2500 households as part of a Danish government-funded project. In Tunisia, more than 400 community members who lost their jobs, due to the pandemic, received cash vouchers; and in Sudan, water and sanitation support from ADRA in Canada is helping communities to have access to essential cleaning supplies.
“As we move forward, we expect to face greater challenges than we have so far. But we are prepared to face them head on,” said Mario Oliveira, director for emergency management at ADRA. “As we serve so many affected communities, ADRA will continue to carry out relief operations founded on the principle that we are stronger together—together with our partners and with the Adventist church. Our global offices, churches, ministries, schools, clinics and partners must work in step in order to address the massive impact of this pandemic to ensure that many more lives can be touched and saved.”
Donations to assist with the COVID-19 disaster response are urgently needed.