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In early January 2020, an outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China was declared by the World Health Organization to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Consequently, the WHO stated that there was a high risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading to other countries.

During the 2014 Ebola epidemic, IIRR’s partnerships with DFID and UNICEF were vital in strengthening rural health systems. Similarly, other infectious disease outbreaks have required us to provide training to our partners such as World Vision, Save the Children, and Care International to assist us in reaching the most marginalized.

IIRR’s Capacity to Respond
Importantly, our six decades of experience allows us to deliver effective long-term support after disasters. As a result, we were well-equipped to bolster our response efforts to the COVID-19 crisis, specifically focusing on health, livelihoods, and disaster risk management within vulnerable communities.

IIRR’s priority areas of work and range of activities for COVID-19 Rural Response

Above all, we were committed to responding to emerging needs and supporting the global fight against the coronavirus. Throughout the pandemic, our response efforts included:

Community-managed Disaster Risk Reduction

IIRR supported rural communities in understanding their hazards and vulnerabilities using the CMDRR approach for preparedness and risk management. Our activities included:

  • CMDRR training, workshops, and consultation
  • Community-managed Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis, through risk mapping, establishing early warning systems
  • Community-managed Emergency Response
  • Strengthening capacities to cope and bounce back with the risks, for instance organizing and training of village responders, contingency planning, and scenario planning

Strengthening supply chains and improving livelihoods

IIRR provided assistance to help rural communities in restoring and protecting their livelihoods, focusing on smallholder farmers and women and youth entrepreneurs to cope with economic stresses. Our support included:

  • Distributing farming materials such as seeds, small livestock, farm tools
  • Providing technical advice on farm planning to promote crops production for the local markets
  • Linking to new markets and buyers without intermediaries
  • Establishing capital stimulation packages as safety nets to ensure economic recovery for women who are most affected
  • Working with women and youth to improve the use of digital tools for business and marketing
  • Improving ICT based Business Continuity preparedness planning
  • Advocating for women and youth Recovery Friendly-products through policy interventions
  • Providing linkages and access to Financial Recovery Funds

Establishing village health and nutrition services

IIRR worked to establish effective and sustainable services to improve the nutrition and health status of rural communities throughout the pandemic. As a result, our activities included:

  • Conducting Information, Education, Communication (IEC) campaigns on COVID-19 prevention
  • Strengthening WASH behavior via change communication. For example, establishing emergency water supply and hand-washing facilities in villages, capacity-building to ensure village-based health workers can do primary health care work: IEC, monitoring, isolating the sick, promotion of WASH, etc.
  • Training village health workers
  • Raising awareness to promote a healthy lifestyle using social media and digital platforms
  • Building and equipping of village health facilities

Food security and strengthening local food systems

IIRR addressed community-level food security and strengthened community nutrition amid lockdowns and markets at a standstill. Activities were geared towards:

  • Promoting and advocating Regenerative Agriculture as part of livelihood early recoveries
  • Creating courses, workshops, and training programs on Regenerative Agriculture facilitated by a sought-out expert in the field
  • Strengthening local food systems by establishing home and community gardens
  • Distributing seeds, seedlings, and planting materials to the community

Let’s come together to protect the most vulnerable

Please read the President’s message on COVID-19 here.

Subsequently, just as we continue to look out for vulnerable communities whose hardships are expected to expand with the current health crisis, we would like to share the published pieces related to the pandemic below and we welcome you to share with your networks.

In addition, if you are considering a partnership, send an email to or if you would like to contribute directly to our COVID-19 Rural Response Fund, please click DONATE. 


COVID-19 Impact

Read what we have to say on COVID-19 impact on published articles and blogs below

April 30, 2021 in COVID-19, Rural Development, Rural Health

Zipline: Redefining the health supply chain with lifesaving drone service

Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has stressed medical supply chains and medical personnel, particularly…
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March 1, 2021 in COVID-19, Rural Development, Rural Health

Building back best: Strengthening rural women’s resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Rural women, in all their diversity, play vital roles in agriculture, food security and nutrition,…
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October 2, 2020 in COVID-19, Rural Development

Resilience in the time of disruption – rural communities leading

I have long believed that rural communities held important wisdom, structures, and quality of life…
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September 3, 2020 in COVID-19, Environment, Rural Development

The rise of Affluenza

At the end of his term of office as President, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of…
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July 19, 2020 in COVID-19, Disaster Response, Myanmar, Rural Development

Poverty, climate change, ecology and COVID-19 in the Sundarbans

Poverty is the Intersection of Climate Change and COVID-19 While the news about COVID-19 is…
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April 20, 2020 in COVID-19, Disaster Response, Food Security, Philippines

Nutrition-sensitive food aid to fight COVID-19

Globally, amidst efforts to contain COVID-19 through massive lockdowns, an emerging concern on food insecurity…
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