COVID-19: Our Rural Response

An outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China in January 2020 was declared by the World Health Organization to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The WHO stated then that there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world.

IIRR’s partnership with DFID and UNICEF was a vital one in strengthening rural health systems during the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Other infectious disease outbreaks have also required us to provide needed training to our partners such as World Vision, Save the Children, Care International to assist us in reaching the most marginalized.

IIRR’s Capacity to Respond

Sixty years of experience enables us to be well-positioned for delivering long-term support after disasters happen. This is why we are ramping up our response efforts to the COVID19 crisis focusing on health, livelihoods, and disaster risk management within vulnerable communities where we work.

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



We are committed to supporting the global fight against the coronavirus and our plans are gearing forward to respond in areas that may include but are not limited to:

Community-managed Disaster Risk Reduction
IIRR will support rural communities in understanding their hazards and vulnerabilities using the CMDRR approach for preparedness and risk management. Activities include:

  • CMDRR training, workshops and consultation
  • Community-managed Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (risk mapping, establishing early warning systems)
  • Community-managed Emergency Response
  • Strengthening capacities to cope and bounce back with the risks (organizing and training of village responders, contingency planning, scenario planning)
Strengthen supply chains and improve livelihoods
IIRR will provide 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 includes:

  • Farming materials distribution such as seeds, small livestock, farm tools
  • Technical advice on farm planning to promote crops production for the local markets
  • Linking to new markets and buyers without the intermediaries
  • Establishing capital stimulation packages as safety nets for women for economic recovery for most affected
  • Capacitating the women and youth on digitalization to increase 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
  • Linkages and access to Financial Recovery Funds
Establish village health and nutrition services
IIRR is working towards establishing effective and sustainable services to improve the nutrition and health status of rural communities. Our activities include:

  • Conducting Information, Education, Communication (IEC) campaigns on COVID-19 prevention
  • Strengthening WASH behavior change communication (establishing emergency water supply and handwashing facilities in villages,  capacitating village-based health workers to do primary health care work: IEC, monitoring, isolating the sick, promotion of WASH, etc) 
  • Training of village health workers
  • Awareness-raising  to promote a healthy lifestyle using social media and digital platforms
  • Building and equipping of village health facilities
Food security and strengthen local food systems
IIRR is addressing community-level food security and strengthening community nutrition amid lockdowns and markets on a standstill. Activities are geared towards:

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

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

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.

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, then click here to DONATE

Let’s come together to protect the most vulnerable

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

Rural areas at risk during COVID-19 pandemic

Lancet interview with IIRR President on taking a systematic approach in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, and other challenges faced by rural communities.

Opinion: Support rural, women-led entrepreneurs amid the COVID-19 pandemic

IIRR Regional Director wrote a compelling article in Devex on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting female entrepreneurs in Africa.

Growing your food in the coronavirus crisis

IIRR advocates Regenerative Agriculture techniques that will help arrest environmental degradation and for households to attain food security amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nutrition-sensitive food aid to fight COVID-19

The Community Nutrition Project for the First 1000 Days (CNP-F1K) spearheaded by IIRR is encouraging households to eat nutritiously while on lockdown to strengthen the immune system.