COVID-19 Emergency Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed life as we know it. And while no-one has been spared, the impact remains particularly grave for the countries Dorcas works in.

How can you physically distance in a refugee camp? How can you put food on the table when your day job is cut off? Where do you go for reliable information to protect yourself against the virus?

Dorcas' is taking every action to meet these urgent and evolving needs - and continue to serve those most vulnerable. As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, your support is more important than ever.

Our Focus Areas

Preventing the spread

We are working with our partners worldwide to deliver reliable information about the virus to help communities stay healthy. Awareness-raising is key to our activities - and has already shown its potential to save lives. Our public information campaigns point to some of the preventative measures (strictly based on official WHO hygiene and WASH guidelines) that households can adopt to fight the spread. We are also providing additional information by SMS, social media and other communication channels - both online and off.

Mitigating the damage

We're protecting the people whose lives have been hardest hit - including children who cannot go to school, parents and wage workers who have lost their jobs, refugees and vulnerable elderly. We have adapted our activities to meet these new challenges with a focus on livelihoods, food for families, remote learning and support systems for women and girls who are at heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence as a result of the pandemic.

Safety and Security

We have updated our Safety and Security policy to ensure that we can continue our work in the safest way possible. If an activity does not meet these new protocols in full - which span everything from rules for public gatherings and events to office and Community Centre arrangements and travel restrictions - then we do not hesitate to cancel or delay it. The safety of our staff and all those we work with is of utmost importance to us. Download the full policy here.

Response per country

Our Response - at a glance

Dorcas is continuing to support the most vulnerable people in all 14 countries where we are present. We are adapting our programmes to meet the changing needs of communities - some of whom are only just beginning to face the full force of the pandemic.

In the Netherlands, where our international office is based, generous contributions from our local supporters and volunteers - ranging from individual donations to large-scale campaigns - has helped us respond with speed and agility on the ground.

For a selection of our local actions scroll through below.


At the height of lockdown we used every communication channel possible - Skype, Wazzup, phone or even postcards and letters - to stay in regular contact with staff, partners and the people we serve.

Distribution of food and hygiene packs as well as medical supplies, particularly to grannies and households with a disability, continue to support this. Our priority throughout the crisis is to remind vulnerable individuals that they are not alone.


In Cairo, we have taken our Future 4 Children programme online, using Zoom to gather children and parents from the Zabbaleen community - an area plagued by poor health - under one 'virtual' roof.

We are also distributing kids' activities - everything from handicrafts to awareness-raising puzzles to play dough and games - to households, encouraging parents to play too. As the pandemic plays out, much of our activities are venturing online, using social media and digital platforms to share important health messages in a fun and engaging way.


We are scaling up our Multi-Purpose Cash programme - run in partnership with the government and a local organisation - in the Oromiva and Somali regions in response to the increased threat to livelihoods as a result of the pandemic.

Digital cash transfers have reduced the need to meet in person - and are helping us reach at-risk communities faster.


We have adapted our Food, Security and Livelihoods (FSL), Protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects - part of our wider programme with donors - to deliver vital humanitarian support to families in volatile IDP camps and informal settlements.

As the pandemic expands, we are working with both local and international actors to conceptualise new elements of the Iraq programme that meet the demands of the fluctuating context.


Lebanon is in phase four of the outbreak (October 2020), where wider community transmission is observed. Among other measures, this has led to the reintroduction of lockdown, leading to a sharp rise in cases of sexual and gender-based and domestic violence.

Our team of psychologists, PSS officers and social workers have been working around the clock to provide remote psychosocial support to vulnerable individuals including women and children.

In instances where a case is identified as high-risk, the team have conducted face-to-face follow ups at our community centres - with respect to all mandatory safety protocols.


In Mozambique it is absolutely critical that we continue to equip communities with the tools to feed their families and prepare themselves for climate-related shocks.

We have adapted our Farmer Field School programme with respect to physical distancing rules (groups of no more than 10) and have also introduced an awareness-raising element - helping participants shield themselves against the virus.


Across our emergency response we lead with one clear strategy - to limit the risk of infection among elderly and marginalised groups and intensify our support. Dorcas was the first NGO in the country to equip all our field staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) and implement maximum safety and security protocols at our premises. We have also introduced a number of digital tools to aid us in our work and address mental health needs among isolated households.

We are providing elderly people with hygiene packs, information pamplets and small audio devices so that they can listen to the bible and recorded sermons. Our grannies also receive seedlings and chickens to grow their own food.

South Sudan

As part of our COVID-19 response in South Sudan we joined forces with local organisation Mary's Help Association to set up triage stations for the screening of COVID-19 patients at designated hospitals including Wau Teaching Hospital.

Each station is equipped with handwashing facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE), infrared thermometers, beds, oxygen concentrators, wheel chairs and other essential items.


Dorcas - with the support of your donations and Mission East - is handing out food parcels and hygiene kits to vulnerable families across Aleppo and Rural Damascus.

Our team also learned that local people were not wearing masks as they could not afford them. We led a mask making activity in Aleppo city that has helped citizens take matters into their own hands. The masks they make are sold to local shops and a handful of primary healthcare institutions across the region.


Inside two of Tanzania's major prisons we have been able to resume project activities. A deep-clean has taken place at both premises, inmates are supplied with soap and detergents and physically distanced visits from Dorcas care workers and church pastors have recommenced.

Our MHM4Her programme has also been adapted with one goal in mind - to ensure that every girl gets the support and information they need.