PORTLAND, Oregon — Mercy Corps is a group of global humanitarians, collaborating in preventing modern-day crises through addressing economic, social, political and environmental issues. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Its primary mission is “to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression, by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercy Corps is responding to COVID-19 with resources and programs in places that need it the most.
Mercy Corps and Partnerships
Mercy Corps partners with larger businesses and corporations in order to help those in need. For example, droughts in Somalia made it difficult for inhabitants to obtain access to safe, clean water. As a result, the price of water increased by more than 20%. Mercy Corps partnered with Shell Oil Company to provide assistance to those affected by the droughts in the Baidoa region of Somalia, by providing safe, clean water, food packages and sanitation. This distribution of supplies has also aided in minimizing the prevalence of diseases like cholera and diarrhea.
Shell has also aided Mercy Corps in promoting and aiding the development of MicroMentor, a type of online mentoring scheme founded by Mercy Corps, which is utilized to allow smaller business owners to network with more skilled mentors in the business sector.
In addition to partnering with Shell, Mercy Corps has also worked with the company Cisco to construct digital communities in which displaced individuals are able to locate resources and information while also connecting youth and educational programs.
Cisco has also aided the Mercy Corps’ Technology for Development (T4D) team in connecting with field teams and other partners to transform technology into humanitarian processes and tools. In Iraq, T4D has assisted those affected by psychosocial trauma in practicing guided meditation. The pilot program worked to bring about a 48% improvement in scores of participants’ well-being.
Mercy Corps Responds to COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercy Corps has been working tirelessly to prevent the spread of the virus globally. Learning from how its teams addressed the development of the West Africa Ebola epidemic, Mercy Corps is responding to COVID-19 by providing widespread sanitation and hygiene programs in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The organization has set up teams in the Americas, Middle East, Africa and Asia, circulating accurate information regarding COVID-19 and distributing resources regarding the significance of proper handwashing.
Specifically, the Signpost app, which was made in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), has consistently been providing the most vulnerable populations in Italy with recent information on the pandemic and specific support services. In Iraq, displaced individuals received water and sanitation assistance that incorporates a combination of water trucking, water facility repairs and solid waste management services. In Ethiopia, families are receiving preparedness kits and screenings for fevers as well as information regarding proper handwashing. In Pakistan, the organization is collaborating with the local governments to enhance COVID-19 awareness and develop COVID-19 training sessions.
Mercy Corps Prioritizes Women
Mercy Corps puts women at the forefront of its COVID-19 response as the pandemic’s negative impact on women is disproportionately greater than for men. According to a U.N. report, during COVID-19 women are losing their livelihoods at a faster rate and women are sacrificing their health for economic security, as they are often frontline health workers and caregivers. Additionally, in some countries, women are less likely to be included in decision-making relating to COVID‑19 resources, so their needs go unheard and unmet. During COVID-19, Mercy Corps helps female entrepreneurs with its MicroMentor platform, employs technology to connect women to jobs and encourages leadership roles in programs, for women to be included in decision-making processes.
Ultimately, despite the challenges that COVID-19 presents, Mercy Corps is continuing to provide life-saving aid to over 28 million individuals globally.
– Aprile Bertomo