ASEAN CARES programme is set to support refugees, migrants, lactating women and other vulnerable communities in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The United Way Worldwide and ASEAN Foundation have joined hands with 3M and Community Chest of Korea to help at-risk communities with food security and hygiene crises in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand by launching the ASEAN COVID-19 Active and Robust Response (ASEAN CARES) programme.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a devastating health and socio-economic crisis across the region, putting marginalised people at a higher risk of poverty and food insecurity. The International Labour Organization estimates that the pandemic has threatened the livelihoods of 218 million informal workers, which represents 67% of the total employment in the region. Furthermore, in a worst-case scenario, the World Bank projected that the pandemic will push an additional 11 million people into poverty.
In its pilot stage, the programme will provide access to food and basic hygiene for vulnerable individuals and groups such as families with children, people with disabilities, women headed household, elderlies, refugees, migrants and pregnant and lactating women in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. In partnership with local civil society organisations (CSOs), the programme will also roll out nation- and region-wide awareness campaigns to educate the public about the danger of COVID-19 and how to prevent it from spreading.
United Way Worldwide International President, José Pedro Ferrão, commented: “On behalf of United Way Worldwide, I am pleased to partner with the ASEAN Foundation to help Southeast Asian communities hit hard by COVID-19. This pandemic is a new challenge for all of us, but I trust that we can respond to food-security issues and more by mobilising community’s caring power together. We look forward to working with ASEAN Foundation to bring much-needed relief and long-term recovery to vulnerable communities in the region.”
In Malaysia and Thailand, a total funding of USD 160,000 from 3M has been pledged to support over 5,000 underprivileged communities in each country. The ASEAN Foundation and United Way Worldwide will work with local CSOs to ensure that the relief aid reach the most-affected populations in both countries.
“It’s important that 3M holds true to its core values during this pandemic by supporting our communities and improving lives,” said Country Leader of 3M Malaysia, GT Lim. “The projects with United Way form part of a $20 million commitment made by 3M at a corporate level to support COVID-19 relief projects globally, and we’re grateful that some of this funding is helping the most vulnerable people in society impacted by the COVID-19 crisis in Malaysia and Thailand during these exceptional times.”
The programme implementation in Myanmar will be strengthened with USD 30,000 relief fund from Community Chest of Korea (Jong-Suk Ye, Chairman). In collaboration with a local CSO, food packages, hygiene kits and COVID-19 educational materials will be delivered to 1,700 people who are struggling amidst these unprecedented times.
“This project is such a valuable opportunity for us to support the vulnerable communities in Myanmar suffering from the food security issues due to the severe pandemic,” said Secretary General of the Community Chest of Korea, Yean-sun Kim. “Since the partnership with United Way Worldwide, we have cooperated with Southeast Asia countries in order to establish a joint fundraising system and create a self-sustaining regional sharing ecosystem in Southeast Asia. Through this project, we are pleased to gather social sectors together and create an impact by supporting the communities in Southeast Asia impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”
ASEAN CARES programme serves as the embodiment of the outcomes from the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 on 14 April 2020, which puts emphasis on the importance of a coherent, multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and whole-of-ASEAN Community approach in combating the pandemic.
“In line with ASEAN’s effort to build collaboration with external partners, ASEAN CARES seeks to engage all parties, from multinational society to local communities, to work together in delivering a large-scale COVID-19 relief aid to those in desperate needs,” said Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation, Dr. Yang Mee Eng.