COVID-19 in Fragile Contexts: Reaching Breaking Point

Healthcare worker treats cholera patients at a Mercy Corps-supported clinic in Yemen
July 28, 2020

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Even before COVID-19, myriad challenges including hunger, extreme weather events, violent conflicts, and poor governance were already holding fragile places back. Now, those challenges make fragile contexts particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic. As a result, prioritising fragile and conflict-affected states has never been so urgent.

Mercy Corps’ latest report “COVID-19 in Fragile Contexts: Reaching Breaking Point” shows that some of the most severe and long-lasting impacts of COVID-19 will be on food security, employment, local markets, gender equality, and sustainable peace. It also provides recommendations on how we can use the opportunity of the response to COVID-19 to not only help communities cope with this crisis, but strengthen their resilience, and leave communities and systems better prepared to tackle the next, inevitable shock.  

Key recommendations for an effective COVID-19 response:

  • Support local markets: Market systems play a vital role in helping communities cope with the immediate impacts of the crisis, and recovering some form of stability.

  • Promote peace and good governance: The international community should step up investment towards conflict prevention and peacebuilding, as well as addressing key drivers of fragility, which has increasing importance in a COVID-19 world.

  • Invest in climate adaptation in fragile states: As we respond to urgent needs caused by COVID-19, we must not ignore the opportunity to implement a resilient and sustainable recovery that also builds resilience to future shocks - including climate related hazards. 

  • Put women and girls front and centre: Failing to address the specific needs of women and girls as well as to leverage their expertise in the response to this pandemic will not only make the response less effective, but also further slow progress towards achieving gender equality.