Switzerland stands by Bangladesh during COVID-19
As nations and people around the globe struggle with COVID-19, Switzerland partners in solidarity with Bangladesh to overcome this unprecedented crisis. Switzerland has so far earmarked over 8 Million Swiss Francs, or 70 Crore BDT, for immediate response activities, which are implemented through local and international partner organizations in close collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh. Our action, which consists of more than 20 projects, is designed to benefit vulnerable communities, reach out to remote areas and support organizations and institutions working at the frontline of the fight against the pandemic.
People living in hard-to-reach areas often do not have adequate access to services even under normal circumstances. With two floating hospitals, the NGO "Friendship" provides critical COVID-19 protection and healthcare to the far-flung Northern Char region in Bangladesh. Switzerland supports Friendship to expand its services with additional 1'500 volunteers and paramedics, prepare isolation centres and distribute PPEs among health workers. The project also includes the establishment of walk-in testing booths as well as the distribution of vitamins and food packages to 9'000 people.
In the Cox's Bazar area, Switzerland assists the Rohingya refugees and host communities through a number of interventions. The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) is scaling up the capacity of primary health centres for about 200'000 refugees in the camps. The support also goes towards the construction of isolation facilities and treatment of COVID-19 patients in the camps and the host communities.
Switzerland has also joined a UNICEF-led action to bolster the Government with its COVID-19 response in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector. This will directly benefit at least 23 million people and reduce their risk-exposure by securing uninterrupted water supply and creating improved public water and handwashing facilities. Providing better access to sanitation is particularly important for women and children. The project also includes a public awareness campaign on WHO-recommended prevention measures, reaching 84 million people through religious leaders, social media platforms and community radios.
The ultra-poor and vulnerable population, including indigenous people, sex workers and other marginalized communities, bear the brunt of the economic fallouts of COVID-19. Switzerland supports the relief organization HEKS/EPER with providing emergency food, hygiene and livelihood assistance to around 10'000 families of vulnerable communities in different parts of the country. Similar to other Swiss-sponsored initiatives, this project is designed to smoothly transition from immediate emergency relief to rehabilitation and longer-term development activities.
Local government institutions are at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. Switzerland teamed up with Denmark and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support the Local Government Division of Bangladesh. Under this partnership, the Efficient and Accountable Local Government (EALG) project reaches out to 500'000 people from 9 districts, by raising awareness, distributing protective equipment and installing handwashing facilities.
These are just some of the efforts that the government and civil society are undertaking now in collaboration with Switzerland and the broader international community. Together and in solidarity, we will overcome this crisis.