Addressing the Covid-19 Crisis

March 27, 2020 — As Covid-19 continues to spread, The Asia Foundation is responding. There are significant implications for public health and safety, economic security, governance, and political stability across Asia, and the Foundation is refocusing its work to battle the emerging global Covid-19 pandemic. Our 18 country offices are communicating closely with our partners, donors, and counterparts in government, civil society, and the private sector. The Foundation’s long-term presence and networks across Asia are providing for effective operational continuity and ongoing adaptation of programs appropriate to the evolving situation.

The challenges created by the health crisis are disproportionally impacting communities The Asia Foundation serves, and we are creating thoughtful responses to urgent needs—especially for women, the poor, and other vulnerable communities for whom Covid-19 poses exceptional risks. Here are some areas where we are working to meet immediate needs:

  • Expanding access to Asia’s only free digital library for children, The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read, which delivers e-books to children any time, any place, in numerous languages, dramatically improving access to educational materials. With growing shelter in place orders, the need for resources to help children understand the world around them and maintain normalcy is greater than ever. This week we added #COVIBOOK to our library, a new volume that explains the virus to children. Currently translated into 11 languages, more will follow in the coming days.
  • In many countries, millions of people live in densely populated areas where access to running water and primary health care is limited. The Asia Foundation’s Coalitions for Change program in the Philippines supports the efforts of longtime partner Action for Economic Reforms and its health-focused networks to track case infection demographics, and monitor the effectiveness of local government and community mitigation policies, and facilitate platforms for government, civil society, and the private sector to coordinate information sharing and advocacy to address the spread of Covid-19. Read more in the DevPolicy blog from Asia Foundation experts.
  • Quarantines, emergency settings, overcrowding, and other circumstances amplified by Covid-19 pose serious risk of increased incidents of gender-based violence (GBV), including child abuse. The Foundation is strengthening women’s networks to respond to GBV and providing data on prevention strategies as well as services for survivors.
  • Small businesses often rely on in-person cash purchases. We are working to provide digital literacy coaching and support for small and medium enterprises to help them adapt to the digital commerce required during social distancing and to sustain a sound economy.

In the days and weeks to come, the Foundation will continue to adapt and reposition our programming as possible to address the most critical issues facing Asia during the crisis. As the emergency unfolds, the health and safety of our staff, community, partners, and grantees remains our top priority. In this new operating environment, we are holding steadfast to The Asia Foundation’s mission of improving lives and expanding opportunities throughout Asia. Your continued encouragement and support during this critical time is deeply appreciated.

David D. Arnold
President, The Asia Foundation

Related locations: San Francisco
Related topics: Covid-19

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