CAFOD's response to coronavirus

11 March 2022

Thousands of CAFOD supporters have called for debt cancellation so people in marginalised communities can access healthcare and vaccines

Thousands of CAFOD supporters have called for debt cancellation so people in marginalised communities can access healthcare and vaccines

A global response to a global crisis

As the pandemic swept around the world, we worked quickly with our Church partners to coordinate our response and we launched our Coronavirus Appeal.

Your donations have helped communities survive lockdowns and prevent coronavirus.

This work depends on our network of local experts, volunteers and community carers. They are known, they are trusted, and they can get help to people, fast – even in the most remote places and difficult situations.

As we all start to return to normal, we want to say a heartfelt thank you. Your support, prayers and donations are helping to transform the lives of those affected by the pandemic, all around the world. This work would not be possible without you.

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How your donations make a difference 

We are truly humbled by the generosity of our volunteers and supporters to our Coronavirus Appeal. So far, you have given over £7 million and have helped support work in 35 countries.

Thank you for reaching out to our global family during such difficult times. Your donations have made such a difference and are continuing to do so. 

Coronavirus update 2021 - Information icon

Over 15 million people received information on prevention and treatment of coronavirus via radio, public announcements, pamphlets, and other media.

You have helped to:

  • Raise awareness and prevent misinformation: 3,225 community volunteers spread awareness locally 
  • Provide clean water and food
  • Provide medical supplies such as face masks, PPE, and oxygen tanks
  • Provide support services for our church partners working with communities, such as training for priests and hospital chaplains and enhanced IT systems
  • Help increase capacity of local healthcare workers: 1,087 clinical staff and community health care workers were trained in the management of coronavirus responses 
Thank you for supporting people during the coronavirus pandemic

Thanks to your help 480,500 people received access to clean water, 37,669 healthcare workers were provided with PPE, 16,017 households received food and other emergency supplies and 5,548 households received cash to help meet their basic needs.

Your help is still needed

As the world slowly tries to heal from the health, social and economic pain and damage caused by the pandemic, we all still face an uncertain future. Coronavirus is still here, and we need to learn to live alongside it. Many communities around the world are threatened not only by coronavirus, but by various political, social and health inequalities that make everyday living much harder.

You can continue to help our global family by donating to our Coronavirus Appeal:

How your campaigning has helped people to survive, rebuild and heal during the pandemic

Thousands of CAFOD supporters have called for debt cancellation so people in marginalised communities can access healthcare and vaccines

Thousands of CAFOD supporters have called for debt cancellation so people in marginalised communities can access healthcare and vaccines

Covid has made the debt crisis faced by some of the world's poorest countries even worse, with many governments having to spend more debt payments to governments and rich banks overseas than on their own healthcare systems.

Debt cancellation is the quickest way of ensuring that countries facing debt crises have the money needed to respond to the health emergency, fund vaccines and rebuild from the pandemic.

That’s why thousands of CAFOD supporters have urged rich governments, big banks and organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to cancel debts for countries in need of this

And it’s why young CAFOD supporters travelled to Cornwall during the G7 summit in 2021 to demand the presidents and prime ministers of the richest countries make sure that everyone has access to vaccines.

What you can do to help

You prayers and gifts are continuing to make a crucial difference by protecting and improving the lives of those in poor communities.

Donate to CAFOD's Coronavirus Appeal

You can also continue to urge private banks to cancel debts so that people in the most marginalised communities can rebuild from the pandemic.

Call for banks to #CancelTheDebt

What is at the heart of CAFOD's response to coronavirus?

Not having enough food, or clean water to wash your hands, makes coronavirus one of many devastating threats to vulnerable families living in the global south.

With your support, we've been able to quickly reach out with practical help and make sure people can survive. 

But our mission has always been to work for a world where every person can not only survive, but live - with dignity and hope.

Coronavirus is making what Pope Francis calls ‘hidden pandemics' worse. It is becoming harder for hardworking farmers to earn a decent living, and for children to get the education they deserve.

In the face of this crisis we will help people hold on to the things they’ve worked so hard for – security, education, an end to generations of poverty and living hand to mouth – and stand alongside them as they rebuild their lives.

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How is CAFOD responding to coronavirus around the world?


With thanks to your donations, we were able to extend our coronavirus response to India during early 2021 when communities suffered a surge in coronavirus cases. With over 2 million infections and 200,000 deaths, the pandemic put a strain on the medical infrastructure of the country and hospitals were unable to cope with the influx of patients.

Coronavirus response in India

CAFOD is supporting Caritas India's response to the second wave of coronavirus in the country. They are distributing medical kits and setting up temporary treatment centres.

We pledged £400,000 to our long-term partners and supported Caritas India. Thanks to your donations, they were able to, and continue to, support some of the most vulnerable households in India by:

  • providing PPE to frontline health workers
  • distributing medical kits to people with manageable symptoms  
  • setting up safely run isolation and quarantine centres  
  • promoting lifesaving Covid and vaccine information

Read more about how we are responding in India


The civil war in Syria has lasted 10 years and left an estimated 6.5 million people homeless inside the country. Now they face the threat of coronavirus when many cannot socially distance, access healthcare, or find clean water.

We are working with local aid experts in unregistered displaced peoples camps to construct Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WaSH) facilities and distribute PPE to prevent the spread of the virus. In other areas we are supporting our local aid teams to distribute food, hygiene kits and cash to allow the most vulnerable families survive lockdown measures.

Syria crisis: 10 years on

Water and hygiene in camps in Syria

The coronavirus pandemic has meant millions of people in Syria are at risk from the virus and from overstretched health services.

South Sudan

We have been working with local church radio networks and aid experts to deliver vital hygiene messages via radio, in hard-to-reach areas. Community groups are translating these messages into local languages so that they can be heard and understood by as many people as possible.

We are also working with women’s groups to protect women of all ages from the risk of domestic violence during lockdown.

How is coronavirus affecting South Sudan?

Democratic Republic of the Congo

We have been working with faith leaders to raise awareness about coronavirus through TV, radio and megaphones - helping more families survive the pandemic through targeted distribution of hygiene kits. We have provided emergency food, clean, safe water and housing to families who have fled fighting and are vulnerable to coronavirus in eastern DR Congo.

How is coronavirus affecting DR Congo?

How is CAFOD responding across Africa?

Health and prevention advice are also being shared when our staff and volunteers are giving out soap and emergency food packages to vulnerable families in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya, to ensure that those at particular risk of the virus can survive this crisis.

Your donations have also funded PPE for medical staff at clinics in Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.

How is CAFOD responding across Asia and the Middle East?

In the Middle East, our local experts are using your donations to continue their vital peacebuilding work and ensuring that legal advice can be given online.

Volunteers and priests are delivering emergency food parcels to vulnerable families in the West Bank and we are also reaching out to Bedouin communities with health equipment and information.

Staff and volunteers are also in vulnerable communities in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. They are spreading essential health messages through village posters, socially-distanced visits to families and giving out PPE.

Food and hygiene packages have been distributed to women-headed households

Food and hygiene packages have been distributed to women-headed households, households including people living with disabilities, daily wage earners, and families from minority religious and ethnic groups who are often subjected to exploitation and discrimination.

In Myanmar, local experts are working alongside health departments and the Church to provide safe places for people to quarantine themselves and to help set up track and trace systems.

In Bangladesh we moved quickly to give cash to the poorest families – led by widows, or those living with disabilities - to buy life-saving food and PPE during the crisis.

How is CAFOD responding across Latin America?

Across Central and South America, your donations are funding radio broadcasts that share life-saving information on coronavirus and how to prevent it.

Church leaders and volunteers have been reacting quickly to get emergency food and seeds to remote communities and help rural farmers get their crops to hungry families on the edges of cities.


Read about the delivery of life-saving oxygen tanks to Brazil

Dom Leonardo Steiner

Dom Leonardo Steiner

"We would like to say thank you for sending these cylinders which are already being sent to the interior of Amazonas State. We thank Caritas who acted as intermediary for this delivery from CAFOD."  

Dom Leonardo Steiner, Archbishop of Manaus, with a message of thanks to supporters for the delivery of oxygen cylinders in Brazil.


Mental Health in Peru during Covid-19

Rosalynn and Soledad

Rosalynn and Soledad from Caritas Chosica.

The pandemic had increased the negative impact on people's mental health. Not being able to speak to someone and not getting emotional support due to having social distancing in place did not help. The grief of thousands of families and their suffering due to illness, loss of work and not having money to buy food, also affects their physical and mental health and leads to depression and anxiety.

However, during this difficult moment, people have come together to respond with resilience to overcome their adversities. We have learned to see people from their potential, recognising their personal resources and discovering their mission in this world and in this time. We know women who, despite all of this adversity, have overcome, grown and discovered new horizons. They transform their pain, maintain their capacity to love, to fight and to face reality, learning to live in it.

Read more about how we supported mental health during Covid-19 Pandemic

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What experience does CAFOD have in responding to this sort of crisis?

Lessons learned from the Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo meant that our local teams rapidly reached out to faith leaders with accurate information and safely organised training sessions.

These leaders are rooted in their communities - a trusted presence - with exceptional reach and impact, ensuring that everyone receives the life-saving hygiene information they need.

How important is the Church as part of our response to coronavirus?

The experience of our local networks mean that we can deliver clear and accurate information via trusted faith and traditional leaders, and promote good hygiene practices, which are both key to keeping people safe. These leaders are pivotal in making sure life-saving messages are acted upon and also in breaking down the prejudice that can be shown to sufferers and survivors of a disease.

CAFOD, along with other faith organisations, is urging the international community to lead a new vision after this crisis, where the planet is respected, inequalities are reduced, and where basic services and rights are guaranteed for every human being.

Pray with us during the coronavirus emergency

How is CAFOD responding as a member of Caritas Internationalis?

Caritas Internationalis, the global Church network CAFOD is part of, has a local presence in 165 countries. Together, we make up one of the largest aid networks in the world, with substantial knowledge and expertise in WASH – water, hygiene and sanitation – and disease control.

CAFOD holds significant technical expertise in WASH and helps to coordinate Church responses.  

But even as part of this global network of local experts, coronavirus risks disrupting our ongoing humanitarian and longer-term development work.

How are we keeping local staff and aid teams safe?

Every country team is adapting to the challenges this crisis demands, but we will make sure that local staff and aid teams on the ground put their safety first in order to continue delivering help where it is needed most.

How do I donate to the Coronavirus Appeal?

You can donate in any of the following ways:


Give a monthly donation  Give a single donation

By phone

Call +44 (0)303 303 3030

By post

CAFOD Coronavirus Appeal
Romero House
55 Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7JB

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