How we are responding to coronavirus

We are committed to supporting disaster-affected families who are vulnerable to coronavirus

Image credit: Anne Mimault/HELP

Our work and coronavirus

For 20 years, we have helped people build emergency shelter.

As coronavirus spreads, we need to act fast and use our experience and expertise in new ways.

Emergency shelter can help to slow the spread of coronavirus in overcrowded camps and settlements before it’s too late.

We’ll continue to provide the right materials and training to help people build shelter or reorganise temporary settlements to provide more space so that people are able to physically distance to prevent the spread of the virus.

And our household items like cooking sets, blankets and water filters will help families reduce sharing and stay as healthy as possible.

man fixing a roof

And we won’t stop there. We will push for the rights of people in disaster zones, making sure politicians and policymakers understand the urgent need to help families find shelter and stay safe.

Explore our aid

Disasters don’t stop

The coronavirus pandemic has made our work more urgent than ever.

Despite the challenges, we are committed to reaching vulnerable disaster-hit families, who now face this new and deadly threat.

Hurricanes and cyclones, conflicts and earthquakes – disasters will continue to hit. We’ll keep working to provide emergency shelter, help slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

Global travel restrictions are making it tougher for us to support communities around the world. But our links with local partners, combined with our storage of shelter materials and tools in locations globally, means we are still able to get shelter to the families who need it most.

And we’re doing everything we can to make sure that happens.

Man in Somaliland wearing a mask and washing his hands

Where we're working


We’ve been working in Syria since 2012. Across the region, we’ve helped over a quarter of a million people who have been severely affected by the ongoing conflict.

Together with our trusted partner ReliefAid, we have provided families with tarpaulins and rope to reinforce their tents, helping people to keep a distance from each other. Mattresses, carpets, thermal blankets and kitchen sets can help to keep families to stay warm and prepare meals. We’ve also provided washbasins and soap – helping families stay as healthy as possible.

Distributions for this project are now complete, and our partners are currently planning the post-distribution monitoring activities (PDM). We’re also looking at whether we can develop a future project to support coronavirus mitigations.

Read more

A ReliefAid worker wearing a face mask sprays disinfectant on an aid delivery truck


Aid workers waiting in line to wash their hands in Cameroon.
The IEDA team queue to wash their hands during distribtions in Cameroon. Working in partnership with IEDA Relief, we’ve helped nearly 8,000 families in Cameroon.

To date, we’ve provided shelter and essential aid to nearly 50,000 people in Cameroon who have been forced from their homes due to Boko Haram violence, climatic changes or economic pressures.

Through our current project, we’re providing tents, household items, shelter kits, tarpaulins and rope, and additional aid items to families who are affected by conflict and are under the threat of coronavirus.

Due to the virus, we’re working closely with our partner IEDA Relief to ensure the safety of affected communities and staff in our work. The team will be wearing face masks and gloves and using hand sanitiser to ensure they and the families we’re supporting remain safe. We’re also looking into providing PPE for IEDA staff, as well as adding soap to the aid package.

Distributions are underway, supporting people within Minawao camp, as well as people living off-camp.


In Somaliland, we’re supporting families who have been displaced by drought, together with our partner ActionAid.

Our project aims to help slow the spread of coronavirus in these communities. We’re providing tarpaulins, rope, kitchen sets, and other essential aid items which will allow people to recover, and also to protect themselves as much as possible from the virus.

Strict mitigations are in place to ensure the safety of the ActionAid team as well as the communities we’re supporting.

Staff attending distributions are provided with protective equipment such as face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitisers, and disinfectants to clean in and around the distribution centres. Distributions are limited to 50 people at a time. Furthermore, our partners are running awareness campaigns for coronavirus at the point of distribution.

Distribution of essential aid is now complete, and post-distribution monitoring (PDM) activities have also taken place. PDM aims to gather learnings from the communities that have received our aid, and it was conducted remotely, via the phone.

woman in facemask queues for aid distribution in somaliland

Burkina Faso

Family sat down in Burkina Faso
Image credit: Anne Mimault/HELP

In Burkina Faso, almost 1 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to extremist violence.

The insecurity and instability make it difficult for aid workers to reach some of the people in need, and coronavirus is making the situation even worse.

Despite the many challenges for humanitarian organisations, including travel restrictions, we are working with our new partner HELP to support the most vulnerable communities.

We’ll be providing tarpaulins, kitchen sets, water carriers, sleeping mats, high thermal blankets, mosquito nets and solar lights, to families who need it the most.

Our support will help to decongest overcrowded places where displaced families are currently living. We are aiming to allow families to live as single units rather than share their shelters, which helps to mitigate against the transmission of the virus.

Our partner HELP has adopted mitigation measures, which include the use of antibacterial gel, masks, gloves and physical distancing.

HELP will also use the aid distributions to provide more information about coronavirus to rural communities.


In Ethiopia, conflict, disease outbreaks, rainfall shortages and flooding have forced people from their homes.

Working with our partner, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), we’ve supported over 4,500 families since late 2018.

Due to the spread of coronavirus, the Ethiopian government has closed its borders, except for the import of essential goods, including humanitarian aid. Our current project will support the coronavirus country response as well as the emergency shelter displacement needs. The aid for this project is in the country right now, and we are also adding soap to the aid package.

Coronavirus mitigations have been put in place for distributions to ensure the safety of IOM staff and beneficiary communities.

IOM staff are using masks and disinfecting all material used at distributions as well as providing handwashing stations. Our partners will also include coronavirus health and prevention messaging and banners at distributions.

people sat down in Ethiopia

The Philippines

doctors wearing facemasks ppe in the philippines

In January 2020, the Taal Volcano erupted in the Philippines. Over 580,000 people were affected, with many taking temporary shelter in crowded evacuation centres or staying with loved ones.

Months later, there are still around 2,000 families living with host families. As concerns around coronavirus grow, families are unable to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

We are hoping to support families with essential items like shelter kits, tarpaulins, rope, mosquito nets and solar lights. These items will allow host families to extend the footprint of their homes, providing more space for physical distancing.

We have aid stored locally in Cebu, making it quick and easy for us to respond in times like this. We will be partnering with YKBI (Yakap sa Kaunlaran ng Bata Inc) who will help as we carefully select and distribute aid. We’re also speaking to our local Rotary contacts.

We have also sent a small number of tarpaulins, ropes and fixings to Eversley Sanitorium, a public hospital in Cebu serving the poorest and most marginalised members of the community. Our aid is being used to create extra spaces to treat patients in both emergency admissions and triage areas.


Torrential rain has caused flash flooding across the south-east regions of Tanzania.

Thousands of families have seen their homes severely damaged or completely washed away. People have moved to resettlement camps away from the flooded areas.

The need for emergency shelter in south-east regions of Tanzania is huge and the coronavirus pandemic is making the situation worse. Families need shelter to physically distance themselves from others where necessary and to help stay as healthy as possible.

We are supporting families in Tanzania with shelter kits. They will help people to build sturdy homes so they can start to rebuild their lives and recover from this disaster.

The aid will also help families to follow social distancing guidelines and protect themselves from coronavirus if needed.

Our partner in Tanzania will be working to strict measures, including allowing fewer people at distributions, along with physical distancing and setting up handwashing stations.

tanzania kids
Photo taken during a previous response in Tanzania

We need you

We’re working around the clock to reach as many families as possible, but we can’t do it without your support.

Please donate today to help us continue our vital work.

Image credit: Anne Mimault/HELP

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Pictures from the frontline

See how we’re working with local partners to get shelter to the families who need it most