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 in Idlibwith 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 and post-distribution monitoring activities (PDM) for this project are now complete, but we’re currently working to develop future projects to support even more families.

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 have recently supported 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 have provided 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 were put in place to ensure the safety of the ActionAid team as well as the communities we’re supporting.

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

Distributions and post-distribution monitoring (PDM) activities are complete. 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, we are working with our new partner Help to support vulnerable communities.

Distributions of aid are now complete. We have provided tarpaulins, kitchen sets, water carriers, sleeping mats, high thermal blankets, mosquito nets and solar lights, to families who need it the most.

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

Help have also used 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. Distributions of aid, including soap, are currently taking place.

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

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. Finally, each distribution will only allow a maximum of 50 people, to ensure that physical distancing is being kept.

Aid worker wearing a mask


In mid-May, Cyclone Amphan tore through coastal regions of Bangladesh and north-east India. It was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike the River Ganges Delta since 1999.

With coronavirus cases in India continuing to increase, it has never been more vital for families to have the space to self-isolate and avoid sharing items like cooking sets.

We’re planning to partner with Habitat for Humanity India, looking to support 1,400 families in the Sundarban Islands, one of the areas worst hit by Amphan.

The planned aid package includes shelter kits to repair or replace damaged and destroyed homes, as well as other items to enable people to protect themselves from coronavirus​, such as soap, buckets, and face masks.

We’re planning to work with Habitat for Humanity India to deliver the aid and provide ​information about to stop the spread of coronavirus.

We’re preparing to run remote training, including sharing our expertise on framing and bracing techniques using bamboo, the building material most commonly used in these communities.

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.

For more than four months following the disaster, many people were not able to return home. With concerns around coronavirus growing, these families were living in cramped conditions, unable to take precautions like social distancing.

Working with YKBI (Yakap sa Kaunlaran ng Bata Inc) and with the support of our local Rotary contacts, we have provided 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 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.

Typhoon Vongfong

Category 3 Typhoon Vongfong (known locally as Ambo) made landfall in May in Eastern Samar, Philippines. Torrential rains brought devastating damage, with nearly half a million people affected.

Together with our partner Terres des Hommes (TdH), we are providing essential aid to families who have seen their homes destroyed by the powerful typhoon.

Tarpaulins, rope and other aid items can help to decongest evacuation centres and give additional space to families currently living with host families. Creating space allows distance which helps to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

We’re adopting coronavirus mitigations to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the distributions. These include physical distancing, handwashing, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

devastation in the Philippines after Typhoon Vongfong


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’ll be supporting families in Tanzania with shelter kits. These 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

More from our Coronavirus response

Our Coronavirus Response

Discover how we are working to help people protect themselves from coronavirus in dangerously crowded camps and disaster zones.

How Does Shelter Save Lives?

Emergency shelter can save lives by slowing the spread of Coronavirus. Find out why shelter is absolutely vital right now.

5 Things You Need to Know About Coronavirus

And how it’s affecting families living through disaster

Coronavirus quiz

How does the coronavirus crisis affect communities around the world? Take the quiz to test your knowledge and get the staggering facts.

Coronavirus: It’s not over until it’s over everywhere

This global pandemic is changing all our lives. It’s our duty as humanitarians to help those least able to protect themselves.

Pictures from the frontline

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