Grassroots International has supported our partners to confront the COVID-19 pandemic through combining emergency response and transformative solutions.
While COVID-19 has impacted us all, it has taken the greatest toll on the communities – of peasants, Afro-descendants, Indigenous peoples, and others – already on the front lines of climate chaos, land grabs, and related assaults on human rights. From the start of the pandemic, we realized that any effective COVID response would need to combine emergency relief with ongoing efforts to tackle the overlapping crises facing frontline communities. This is why we launched the Solidarity Amid Pandemic COVID-19 rapid response fund while bolstering our general grantmaking.
Our community responded generously to the Solidarity Amid Pandemic campaign. By May 2020, more than $350,000 in emergency grants were already at work. By the end of the year, we had raised and distributed $695,000 emergency funding to 93 movement partners and allies. Life-saving efforts supported by the fund include:
- In Brazil, rapid conversion of a training center for landless workers into a field hospital for COVID patients
- In Haiti, virus prevention education via peasant-run radio and mobile sound systems in hard-to-reach rural communities, along with mass distribution of sanitation products
- In Palestine, mobile emergency clinics and training of cohorts of community health workers
- In West Africa, women-run radio programs on virus prevention and agroecology, conducted in local languages and dialects
- In Honduras, ancestral healing centers in Afro-Indigenous communities.
These and many other efforts supported by our emergency fund enabled social movements to serve as first responders to the pandemic in communities largely bypassed by government support. And each was part of a broader set of strategies aimed at longer-term change.
More recently, as the Global North returns to some semblance of “normalcy” while the pandemic rages on in the Global South, we continue to support our partners in pandemic response. This includes pushing for equitable access to vaccines in the face of vaccine hoarding by rich countries and disparities in access based on race, class, and gender within many countries.