ActionAid USA recognizes the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting to our supporters and people everywhere, especially those already vulnerable or marginalized. We are taking steps to ensure the safety of our staff while continuing to work in solidarity with communities on the frontlines of poverty and injustice.
We have canceled all international and domestic travel, and our staff are teleworking in compliance with public health best practices for flattening the curve. Many of our staff are also parents of children whose schools are closed until March 31 (and likely for much longer) or have family members who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. In line with our feminist values, we are fully supportive of our staff, of all genders, as they attempt to balance their caregiving and professional responsibilities.
We also recognize that people around the world are vulnerable to both COVID-19 and the economic impacts of countries’ attempts to slow or mitigate the spread of the virus. We are coordinating closely with ActionAid offices around the world as they continue to work and support public health in their communities. Our core work on policies around food security, climate justice, land rights and more, is moving forward.
At the same time, we are encouraged by the outpouring of community care in the past week. The spontaneous mutual aid efforts to support our vulnerable neighbors in Washington, DC, where our office is located, have been truly gratifying. The response from government, while generally insufficient, has also demonstrated the true power of policymaking and public investment. The DC government and many other municipal governments have banned evictions and utility shut-offs and are significantly increasing unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, the federal government is considering a massive stimulus that may well include cash payments to all U.S. residents.
We believe that this level of compassion and care for others must be normalized and not only appear in response to an emergency. Why would we ever leave fellow humans to suffer from poverty, hunger, illness, or other societal ills that our government is entirely capable of addressing?
As this global crisis unfolds, we are only beginning to realize its true scope. Hundreds of thousands of people – or more – are at risk of dying from the virus, and millions more will lose their jobs and livelihoods. Even as we work to ensure the safety of our staff, partners, and the communities with whom we work, we commit to redoubling our efforts to demand dignity and justice for all people. We continue to work towards ending the crippling inequalities and injustices – economic, social, gender-based, environmental, and more – that both enable and exacerbate global crises like COVID-19.