A Global Effort: Combating the Coronavirus
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, many have observed its immediate and unexpected environmental impacts. But beyond what may be short-term positive environmental impacts, the pandemic has the potential to disrupt global efforts to combat climate change, and climate change may, in fact, make the response to COVID-19 even more challenging.
In an open letter to all volunteers on March 15th, Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen announced a temporary suspension of all Peace Corps operations globally, and volunteers would be evacuated back to the United States as soon as possible. At the end of January, the Peace Corps evacuated volunteers from China and Mongolia, but in light of the global coronavirus pandemic, the federal agency has extended evacuations to all volunteers throughout the 61 countries where it is active.
Since the emergence of coronavirus in December, China has seen food prices increase by more than 20 percent, rising at the fastest rate since 2008. Food prices in Sudan have tripled and Rwanda became the first African government to set prices for basic staple foods as it saw prices jump— highlighting the potentially devastating impact of the pandemic on global hunger and food insecurity.
As the United States and other high-income countries grapple with how to stamp out coronavirus at home, refugees and the broad network of stakeholders that support them are bracing for catastrophe. At a camp in northwestern Syria, where more than 1 million people have been displaced, refugees face immense challenges that prevent them from following even the most basic prevention edicts.
Colombia’s President Ivan Duque met with President Trump at the White House last week, and at the top of their agenda was Venezuela. Colombia has played a critical role in managing the regional migration crisis, taking in more than 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees—more than a third of the 4.5 million who have fled the country in recent years following political upheaval and economic collapse.
The MOMs Initiative (short for Maternal Outcomes Matters) takes a catalytic financing approach, providing capital that small businesses need to grow and have a greater impact. Within this approach, Merck for Mothers offers grant financing and uses its expertise in maternal health to identify the businesses and promising solutions to invest in.
On his first trip to Africa as Secretary of State, Secretary Mike Pompeo announced a new partnership earlier this week between American company, Weldy Lamont and Senegal’s national electric company — stating that the partnership will build on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)’s $550 million Senegal Power Compact to “provide energy to rural areas … generating electricity throughout the country.”
By addressing the growing need for water, sanitation, and hygiene services in Kenya, the KIWASH project has not only improved water security in rural communities, it has led to even greater opportunities across the country. The support of USAID and DAI has given local business owners the means to provide more reliable water services to their communities. As a result, communities can worry less about water-related diseases and focus more on their education and livelihoods, allowing for a better quality of life for all.
Through a partnership with the International Rescue Committee and with support from the Lego Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, the experts at Sesame Workshop have debuted Ahlan Simsim, or “Welcome Sesame;” a new television show created for refugee children in the Middle East and North Africa. To the IRC and Sesame Workshop, Ahlan Simsim isn’t just a show – it’s a vital piece of humanitarian assistance.
If the world learned anything from the SARS epidemic, it is that in order to counter a viral disease, a coordination of the world’s finest medical institutions and brightest minds is quintessential. As the number of confirmed cases climbs with each passing day, the WHO must act swiftly and declare the Coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. While multiple U.S. officials have vowed to support Chinese efforts to combat the epidemic, and are monitoring the situation closely, the U.S. government must also consider backing up its words by funding programs dedicated to fighting global epidemics.