Benin | © Helvetas / Stéphane Brabant
07. April 2020

Helvetas supports developing countries in the fight against COVID-19

© Helvetas / Stéphane Brabant

The corona crisis hits poor countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin America the hardest. The Swiss development organization Helvetas is supporting the affected people with various initiatives in the fight against the virus.

We do not fully understand yet the extent of the corona crisis in Africa, South Asia and Latin America, but the affected countries must expect the worst. The fact that the population there is on average younger than in Europe and North America does not outweigh the disadvantages: The poor population's state of health is precarious because of malnutrition and lack of basic sanitation. Many people suffer from pre-existing conditions, and infectious diseases already affect small children. "Social distancing" is often hardly feasible for people in developing countries; many family members live in the same room, the toilets – if available – are shared by several families, clean drinking water is rare. In refugee camps, where people live together in very confined spaces, the outbreak of the coronavirus would be even more devastating.

Helvetas provides prevention and distributes hygiene kits and mobile hand washing stations

Early education and prevention work are key to preventing misinformation and slowing down the spread of the virus. Helvetas is raising awareness among the population with information campaigns in various partner countries and distributing hygiene kits containing soap and disinfectants as well as mobile hand washing stations. The development organization can build on years of experience in the field of water and hygiene. Together with its local partners, the Swiss NGO distributes corona education material and prevention posters that are also understood by people who can neither read nor write.

Urgent aid for Rohingya in the largest refugee camp and in West Africa

Numerous further measures are planned in various countries, some of which have already been implemented. In the Rohingya camp in Bangladesh – the world's largest refugee camp – together with our partners Helvetas has distributed disinfectants and hygiene kits for 160,000 people and conducted hygiene training.

In the West African countries of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, Helvetas has been working with local radio stations to quickly organize information and prevention campaigns. In addition, Helvetas is distributing hand washing kits and simple hand washing facilities – including in Mali – and supporting the local production and distribution of hand disinfectants and soap. 

Further information:

Coordinator Media Relations
Katrin Hafner

+41 44 368 67 79