100 days on, we must redouble our efforts to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.
When we entered 2020, we had no idea that within days the world would be confronting a virus that would kill hundreds of thousands and put tens of millions of children at risk from the aftershocks of the crisis.
As we write this report, nearly 15 million people have contracted COVID-19, over 600,000 have died, and lockdown and containment measures have created an economic meltdown that has devastated the incomes of millions more families. I am deeply concerned about the plight of children.
Beyond the tragic loss of family members from the virus, many are facing increased stress, violence, and harm at home and in their communities. School closures affecting more than 1.5 billion girls and boys are impacting the educational and psychosocial development of their young minds. The most vulnerable children already living in difficult and dangerous places are now enduring especially challenging times.
The series of Aftershocks reports that World Vision has produced provide detailed and disturbing insights into what is happening to children.
Our third and latest is the most sobering yet. Based on assessments in 24 countries across Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia, it shows that 85 million households in Asia now have limited or no food supplies, with 8 million children forced into child labour or begging. In Latin America, every third Venezuelan migrant child is going to bed hungry. In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in seven female business owners told us they are earning less than half their salary compared to before the spread of the pandemic. Communities are telling us that as a result, children are facing rising risks of child marriage, violence, and abuse.
This unique challenge for vulnerable children has necessitated a unique response. When our team in China started to support those affected in January, it was impossible to foresee this growing into World Vision’s largest-ever programme, bringing together all our offices to suppor t an 18-month US$350 million COVID-19 Emergency Response to assist 72 million people across 70 countries.
This repor t tells the story of the first 100 days of our response. It is a testimony to the work of thousands of staff, volunteers, and partners who have already reached 44 million people with support, including more than 18 million girls and boys. The repor t reflects on how we have adapted to remote response coordination; how we quickly scaled up community, health worker, and faith leader mobilisation – as well as mass media and social media; how we have reimagined refugee camp operations; how we use digital training and learning; and how we have pivoted our development funds to respond to this crisis.
We know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We are deeply concerned at COVID-19’s spread across Latin America, parts of Asia, and into Africa where health systems are at great risk of being overwhelmed. We also know that the secondary impacts of this pandemic will be with us for years, with 71 million people expected to be pushed back into extreme poverty.
This is why I am calling for urgent action by governments and the international community to ensure a more inclusive and resilient economic recovery plan. If it takes just US$90 billion to protect the world’s most vulnerable children and their families from COVID19’s worst impacts (equivalent to only 1% of what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and G20 countries have pledged for the global stimulus package) and it doesn’t happen, I say ‘shame on us’ if we do not make this a reality.
It is in these dark days that the light of Christ shines strongest. I am amazed to see how our partners, donors, communities, neighbours, families, and young people are coming together.The self-sacrifice, love, and humble service of millions of people, including those in World Vision and our dedicated partners, are helping and empowering children around the globe.
God bless you, and thank you once again for all you do.
World Vision International
President and CEO