COVID-19: How is Agriteam Responding?

COVID-19 has sent shock-waves around the world.  Governments, development partners, communities and families are faced with enormous challenges. Governments are struggling to respond to the pandemic and prevent the spread of the virus, while at the same time needing to continue to deliver essential public services. Movement restrictions have abruptly altered the livelihoods of millions of citizens in countries around the globe. The pandemic’s cascading effects have had devastating socio-economic impacts affecting all aspect of life, especially in low and medium income countries (LMICs). While everyone has been affected, emergencies such as COVID-19 can exacerbate existing inequalities, and its impacts can be particularly devastating for the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women and children.

For more information or to contact our COVID-19 Team, email: info@agriteam.ca

Agriteam’s Support to our Global Partners

Supporting Governments & Partners Internationally

Through our programs, currently operating in 35 countries worldwide, Agriteam provides support in strategic communications, procurement, public health and infectious disease response and recovery, law enforcement, border control, justice and regulation, economic policy, sustainable agri-food systems, environment and climate change, employment and social security support, gender equality, and humanitarian response.  While much of the immediate response to the crisis may focus on emergencies in the health sector, other sectors can actively contribute to risk communications, community mobilization mitigating the economic and social impact of the pandemic at national and community levels. The impact of COVID-19 cuts across all sectors, and all sectors will need to be engaged in the medium-term recovery, longer-term resilience and reform efforts for better pandemic preparedness and planning.

Agriteam has therefore turned its expertise towards adapting existing programming and creating new responses to mitigate the immediate health impacts in the areas and sectors where we work, and to integrate pandemic preparedness for the future. We are also looking to scale up activities that protect and mitigate the secondary cascading impacts of the pandemic on education, livelihoods, industry, agri-food supply chains, environment and social equality over the medium-to-long term. With our considerable capacity in health systems strengthening, sexual and reproductive health and rights, public health, gender equality, agriculture, One Health approaches and pandemic preparedness, Agriteam is proactively responding across all our programming to mitigate the impact of coronavirus disease. See below for examples of how we are responding in different countries.

Supporting Agriteam Staff

We are mindful of keeping our staff and our communities safe and healthy, while continuing our vital work around the world, and the first part of our COVID response focused on duty of care, including repatriating Canadian managers and consultants where necessary. In response to social distancing directives from various national and provincial government, Agriteam has closed or scaled-back office operations, put staff on rotational schedules, and put in place mechanisms to support staff working from home. Most staff in Canada and overseas are now working remotely and can be reached on their usual emails and mobile phone numbers, as well as through Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom.  A COVID-19 response team has been established to support our project teams worldwide with the latest updates and specific interventions to address country and project specific responses to the pandemic and to respond to the needs of bilateral and multi-lateral organizational partners.

Agriteam’s global presence spans more than 35 countries. We employ approximately 350 full-time staff globally. We have in-country teams, offices and partners that allow us to operate immediately, as well as extensive networks of technical expertise that can be called upon in the coming weeks and months.  While international travel has been cancelled for the time being, we are adapting our strategies, and exploring innovative solutions for remote capacity development so that all of our important work continues.

Direct Support to Communities

Through our Agriteam Charitable Donations Committee, supplemented by financial contributions of Canada-based and local staff from offices around the globe, Agriteam is raising funds to support particularly vulnerable families in the communities where we work as well as in Canada, including families who have seen their only sources of income evaporate due to social distancing requirements, movement restrictions, market closures and the major economic downturn. To date, $10,000 has been donated to Calgary and Ottawa-Gatineau based food banks and meal delivery providers, shelters for victims of violence, crisis support programs for youth, and essential services for seniors. A further $10,000 has been raised by staff in Canada and our field offices around the world to support local organizations on the front-lines of COVID-19 response.

 In Ethiopia, Agriteam supported 11 families with a one-month supply of food through Ellilta, a charitable organization that provides literacy and skills training, trauma counselling and job-placement assistance to victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In Colombia, Agriteam’s contributions helped 260 people access food and nutritional support as well as social and educational programming through the Jeymar Foundation and Ciudad de Dios Association. In Tanzania, Agriteam worked with Kivulini, a non-profit organization based in Mwanza, to identify 10 female headed households whose livelihoods were negatively affected by COVID-19, each of whom received rice and other basic food staples. And in Jordan, Agriteam supported the Collateral Repair Project to distribute food vouchers, fuel and other material assistance to Iraqi and Syrian refugees.

Examples of Agriteam’s COVID-19 Responses to Date

Agriteam has worked with funding agencies on pivoting existing projects so that resources can be found to contribute to the immediate COVID response in our key countries of operations. At this stage, resources have been dedicated for procurement of personal protective gear, other medical equipment and supplies, and work on risk communications and community engagement to prevent the spread of COVID. We are also communicating with government partner in all sectors to help them identify urgent needs to be able to shift as quickly as possible from response to recovery and resilience.

Through our Police Project in Ukraine, the Government of Canada has approved £28.4m for the procurement of emergency personal protection equipment (PPE). The project is also advancing the development of a national framework for prevention and response to domestic violence, and developing strategies for supporting police and civil society groups to address a rise in reports of gender-based violence since the onset of quarantine measures. 

In Ethiopia, where Agriteam manages the Capacity Development Support Facility (CDSF) for the Agricultural Growth Program Phase 2 (AGP2), the project has dedicated resources to help regional Bureaus of Agriculture contribute to urgent response needs as identified by regional COVID Task Forces, as well as equipping community level agriculture extension workers with masks, gloves, soap and sanitizer. This support is coming at the beginning of the growing season when essential agricultural activities must take place to ensure food security. CDSF is also contributing to developing, resourcing and implementing a COVID Communication Strategy tailored for the agricultural sector, in collaboration with the agricultural bureaus, and in support of the Ministry of Health COVID communication strategies.  The communication work will include disseminating key messages related to prevention and management of transmission (social distancing, good hygiene, self-monitoring, and self-isolation), and countering misinformation.

Past Work Experience Relevant to Pandemic Response & Recovery Efforts

Agriteam Canada has a long track-record of preventing and controlling emerging zoonotic diseases and mitigating their spread. Over the past 30+ years, we have built and maintained a reputation for excellence in technical assistance, capacity building and project management, and have completed more than 450 projects and assignments worldwide, ranging in value from $50,000 to $35 million.

Vietnam Safe Food for Growth

The ongoing Safe Food for Growth (SAFEGRO) Project in Vietnam (2019-2024) seeks to support risk-based food safety management systems in a PPP which will enhance access to safe, affordable and competitive agri-food products, with an aim to improve the wellbeing of female and male consumers as well as other agri-food sector actors (including poor farmers) in Vietnam.

Tanzania Regional Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health

The Regional Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (2016-2020) worked in Mwanza region of the Lake Zone, Tanzania, to strengthen health systems, improve health worker skills and service delivery quality, and improve community engagement and health-seeking behaviour.

China Livestock Health Extension Services

The Livestock Health Extension Services Project (2005-2011) across 7 provinces of China during the SARS and avian influenza outbreaks included coordinating with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and other Government of Canada institutions on disaster response and risk management, disease outbreak simulations/modeling, and strengthening healthy systems and policies related to regulations, testing, lab management, bio-security, and international standards compliance.

ASEAN Animal Production and Health Information System

The Animal Production and Health Information System for ASEAN Group (APHISAG) Project (1992) supported the establishment of a regional collaborative effort of the ASEAN countries (initiated by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand) to improve their existing information systems at both national and regional levels for better monitoring, to share their mutual experiences in overcoming common problems in disease control, livestock production and marketing.

China China-Canada Lean Swine

The China-Canada Lean Swine Project (1992-2004) established 3 large breeding herds with distribution of offspring to all provinces of China with accompanying extension and management of veterinary services, herd health, biosecurity and disease control programming.

ASEAN Canada-Asia Regional Emerging Infectious Diseases

Canada-Asia Regional Emerging Infectious Diseases Project (CAREID), WHO/Global Affairs Canada (GAC): Designed in response to the SARS epidemic to build the capacity of five Asian countries (Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines) to respond to emerging infectious diseases. Agriteam also served as lead facilitator for the WHO’s high level workshops with senior government officials, multilateral donors (World Bank, Asian Development Bank, other United Nations agencies) and non-governmental organization health sector representatives from across Asia.

Pakistan Canada-Pakistan HIV/AIDS Surveillance

The Canada-Pakistan HIV/AIDS Surveillance Project (2003-2012) capacity for a sustainable, scientifically-sound integrated biological and behavioural surveillance (IBBS) system for HIV in Pakistan, and to ensure that surveillance information was effectively used to plan and improve HIV policies and programs for vulnerable women and men.

Pakistan Systems-Oriented Health Investment

Systems-Oriented Health Investment Program (SOHIP) Pakistan (2004-2009) GAC: SOHIP worked to improve the ability of health services to be more gender-sensitive and pro-poor, through a dual focus on health promotion, and management and accountability in the health system.