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reliefweb - 28 days ago

World: START Fund COVID-19 Update 1st Edition - As of 4 June 2020

Countries: Haiti, Lebanon, occupied Palestinian territory, Peru, Timor-Leste, World Source: Start Network The new Start Fund COVID-19 is part of the Start Network s existing funding mechanism, the Start Fund, and provides rapid funding for small to medium responses at the local level, to address neglected or underfunded aspects of the broader COVID-19 crisis, with a focus on neglected communities and geographies as well as early action and anticipation. This document shares updates from projects funded through this mechanism s first call for alerts,from across the membership. Between 11 May and 4 June, key informant interviews were conducted with members of 14 projects. START FUND COVID-19 PROJECT IN TIMOR LESTE Timor Leste is considered a fragile state, with a weak health system that could quickly be overwhelmed by a COVID-19 outbreak. Major gaps exist in accurate, reliable information communication channels to communities, as well as the provision of,and access to,materials and equipment to enable hand washing with soap to break the transmission of the disease. Despite official borders with Indonesia being closed, there is still frequent informal border crossing.Communities closest to the border are therefore most at risk of a COVID-19 outbreak and community transmission. With funding from the Start Fund COVID-19, Oxfam, CARE International, Mercy Corps, Catholic Relief Services, Plan International and World Vision, together with local partners such as BIFANO, AFFOS and CovaTaroman,have been able to support these vulnerable communities. The funding has allowed agencies to help communities protect themselves: hygiene kits have been distributed to households and hand washing stations were established in central community locations (e.g. the office of the village chief, health clinics, markets, etc.). Agencies have also placed a large emphasis on sharing information about COVID-19 and its prevention, including handwashing practices and physical distancing. This is especially important in Timor Leste s post-conflict setting, where providing reliable information can help avoid anxiety and stress about COVID-19-related uncertainties. Four weeks into the project, no community transmission had been detected. Although this is good news, consortium partners are also looking ahead. For example, recent feedback from communities indicates that the next big challenge will be food insecurity. To better understand how households have been affected by COVID-19, a large food security household survey is currently being conducted. In addition, the current response had coincided with the end of the rain season, meaning that communities have enough access to water to wash their hands. However, in a few months once thedry season kicks in, water will be scarce and any water available may no longer be prioritised for handwashing, posing new challenges to COVID-19 prevention.

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