Jul 4, 2021

Why global vaccine distribution is in everyone's best interest

The rate of COVID-19 vaccinations has recently increased around the globe, giving hope to millions of people desperate for relief after this challenging period. Rapid distribution and equitable access to vaccines is essential. It’s not only  ‘morally responsible’, but also economically beneficial for the rest of the world. International collaboration is crucial to fight the long-term effects of the pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its second year, there have been over 100 million cases worldwide and almost 3 million deaths. Non-medical impact can be seen in various aspects of life including income, employment, access to education and health care, and mental health. Even in some of the wealthiest countries in the world, the pandemic has devasted millions. Many families and businesses are behind on rent or facing eviction, unemployment rates are climbing, the lines at food banks are longer than they have ever been before, and global mental health is a crisis of its own.

For middle and low-income countries, the challenges are somewhat similar, with the exception that they have far fewer resources, pushing their citizens into poverty and hunger. A new study conducted by UC Berkeley and the World Bank surveyed people across 16 low-income countries, suggesting that 70% of households suffered a decrease in income, and 45% were forced to miss or reduce meals. Only 11% were able to access health care, and in some communities, this dropped to 0%. Measures of economic activity like business income suggest that in some areas it shrunk by half. 2020 reversed years of progress in addressing global poverty, throwing many poorer communities back into food insecurity and extremely low incomes.

 Within just a week of arriving to Juba, South Sudan last month, I saw government restrictions significantly increase. The number of cases of COVID-19 jumped, resulting in a ban on all social gatherings, closure of schools, universities, and businesses not deemed essential, and cutting  the number of passengers on public transportation by half. Without financial support from national governments or international institutions, vulnerable people desperate to feed their families face no choice but to ignore social distancing measures.

The approval of COVID-19 vaccines seemed like a game-changer after so many months of restrictions, but without rapid distribution, there is a long journey ahead. The longer it takes to vaccinate the population, the greater chance of variants developing, strengthening the need for rapid global vaccine rollout.  For countries that have already started vaccinating their citizens, there is hope, however there is a fear that many countries, especially lower-income nations, won’t have access to vaccines until as late as 2024. Any delays to worldwide vaccine access will only prolong the pandemic.

International collaboration is essential for rapid and equitable distribution. Even when safe and well-developed vaccines are available, local distributions are often prioritized over a globally coordinated approach. As of today, about 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccine doses.

 Aside from any moral or humanitarian arguments to provide vaccine access to all countries, the global economic impact is also significant. A new study by the RAND corporation shows that it is less costly for high-income countries to distribute vaccines to lower-income countries than to focus only on local distribution.  For every $1 spent on supplying vaccines to low-income countries, high-income countries could receive $5 in return due to speedier economic recovery, as global economies are linked through trade, production, investments, and tourism. The bottom line is that distributing vaccines is not only responsible morally, but also economically.

Some efforts already exist to ensure a more equitable approach to vaccine allocation between countries. For example, G7 country leaders have committed 7.5 billion USD to the WHO’s COVAX initiative to finance global equitable access to tests, treatments, and vaccines in 2021. This is an important start, but it will not be enough. From both economic and health perspectives, none of us will be out of the pandemic until we all are. With this in mind, IsraAID is working closely with its teams around the globe to help the most vulnerable communities as they build back better, past the pandemic, and toward a more resilient future. But in order for this work to really take off, collaboration and equity has to be a central pillar of vaccination efforts.

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Jun 16, 2021

Guara-Guara's Child Friendly Space

Over 2,500 families are creating a new home in Guara-Guara, Mozambique after being displaced in January when Cyclone Eloise destroyed thousands of buildings and livelihoods. IsraAID Mozambique opened a new Child Friendly Space in Guara-Guara where activities include dancing and art to help children process their trauma.

"We suffered a lot from the cyclones and floods when we left Buzi. We were rescued by boat to the high school of Guara-Guara where we were resettled. We are receiving help from the government with food up to today. We lost almost everything. Being a volunteer facilitator with IsraAID is important for me because, after everything that happened, we can still bring joy to the children. Wherever I go the children call me: “Look, the auntie from our little school” and it makes me very happy." - Sonia, a volunteer at our CFS in Mozambique.

Luisa currently lives in Guara-Guara, after her house in Buzi village was destroyed by flooding and the cyclone. "I took refuge in a neighbor's house. The next day everything was flooded. We left by boat to Guara-Guara. Life is difficult. When the coronavirus arrived we felt safer in our own homes. Now that we are here it is different. Although we are wearing masks and washing our hands, there are 10 families in a tent."


Hear their stories in our video.

Jun 15, 2021

Work Online Dominica's Second Round

Last week, IsraAID Dominica, the Ministry of Public Works and the Digital Economy, and UNDP launched the second Work Online Dominica program. We welcomed a new cohort of 60 people who will be part of our 12-week course on how to get started working online, find new sources of income, and increase financial stability. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how accessible the global economy can be, from anywhere in the world. 2020 increased the capabilities of many companies to hire and manage a remote workforce, opening job opportunities to people from different continents. With the right skills and training, some of the world's largest tech companies are accessible from the comfort of people's own homes. In a year that saw many people without a job, through our first round of Work Online Dominica, 55 young Dominicans found employment as freelancers or permanent staff with companies all over the world. 

Hear from Emily, a participant of our first round of Work Online Dominica:

"Work Online Dominica presents you with the master class of how to get started working online. Making available 12 comprehensive training modules, weekly group sessions, access to free skills training to help you build new skills or strengthen those you already have, and one-on-one coaching to tackle your personal challenges and polish your application, all with an exclusive community of like-minded individuals. You cannot get that level of value anywhere else. The trainers are truly experts when it comes to working online as freelancers or remote employees. I’ve always dreamt of working online, with the flexibility of choosing my working hours from the comfort of my own home. For over 10 months I’ve been employed by a US company. Working online takes discipline. You have to be self-motivated and confident. My experience is not unique, it resonates with every Work Online Dominica participant."

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