May 12, 2020

How it was: ICF social support programme amid the COVID-19 pandemic

This year, the world faced an unprecedented challenge – a pandemic of coronavirus infection, which claimed the lives of millions of people. Over the past few months, a lot has been written about the virus, the consequences of contamination and its impact on the world, but one thing is clear – now we all live in the new reality of the world in quarantine mode. Governments, corporations, and people all around the world need to adapt to a new way of life, and, at such an unstable time, the socially vulnerable people find themselves in the most difficult situation. They are the first to experience all the risks and negative consequences of COVID-19 – they often cannot afford to buy the most basic and necessary products and medicine. In our today’s post we look at this issue – the assistance to the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic (our news on the topic can be found here, and media coverage – here).

On 19 March 2020, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan issued the Decree “On priority measures to mitigate the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic and global crisis on the economy”. The Decree included a number of measures aimed at providing social support and protection of health, employment and income of the citizens of Uzbekistan. The International Chodiev Foundation (ICF) has joined the Government’s fight against the spread of coronavirus and has launched an extensive charitable programme to support the most vulnerable segments of the country’s population.

ICF’s programme consists of various stages, which depend on the needs of the population and which are carried out as the situation develops. For example, the first stage was the delivery of humanitarian aid to the elderly and low-income families throughout the country. The second and third stages were the delivery of humanitarian aid and bulk goods to the United Centre for the Coordination of Assistance to the Vulnerable, established in early April. All these stages were implemented jointly with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Photo: preparation of the humanitarian aid packages, stage 1 of the programme

The fourth stage was the partnership with the Sakhovat Centre in Moscow in funding its activities in providing help to the labour migrants and their families in Russia. 

The fifth stage was the support of the victims of the flood in the Syrdarya region, which occurred on 1 May as a result of Sardoba reservoir dam burst. ICF joined a charity programme of the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan, called “Salam, Sardoba, biz birgamiz!” (“Hello, Sardoba, we are together!”).

Further assistance is currently in the planning and implementation phase. Today, we talk to Umida Khusainova, Project Coordinator of the Representative Office of the International Chodiev Foundation in Uzbekistan, who was instrumental to the planning and implementation of ICF’s programme of support. 

Photo: Stage 1 of the programme, Umida Khusainova (ICF) and Jafar Amonov (Department of Internal Affairs of Tashkent)

Umida, could you please tell us about ICF’s social support programme – how did it all begin?

If I may say so, our extensive programme of support appeared as quickly as the virus itself. Of course, no one knew that the whole world would be impacted so suddenly, but our reaction was natural – we realised we must join the common effort and help people in need as soon as possible. The Foundation has developed a plan, and we immediately started its implementation, and have carried out all the stages in record time.

The first step was the provision of the humanitarian aid to the vulnerable groups throughout the country. Please tell us more about how you have implemented such a large-scale project – how was the aid put together and delivered? How did you identify people requiring assistance?

We prepared the humanitarian aid packages themselves – we chose the right suppliers, checked the quality of goods, monitored its compliance with sanitary standards in the context of a coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Internal Affairs of Tashkent helped a lot with the delivery of our aid – trucks loaded with cargo drove to all 13 regions of the country. The Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan was responsible for compiling the list of people who need the help the most. These are the elderly, the poor, and the low-income families. We had to act quickly, so the whole team worked around the clock to make it happen. 

Video: preparation of the humanitarian aid packages, stage 1 of the programme

What is included in the humanitarian aid package?

At the first stage, we prepared 1500 packages. Each of them contained 13 types of essential goods, including food, detergent and antiseptic.

Video: preparation of the humanitarian aid packages, stage 1 of the programme

The next two stages of the ICF and the Ministry of Justice’s programme were implemented through the United Centre for the Coordination of Assistance to the Vulnerable in Tashkent. Why?

The United Centre opened on 2 April. This is an excellent initiative that made it possible to organize assistance very promptly, and in compliance with the strictest disinfection rules, which is especially important these days. It has become a kind of bridge between philanthropists who offer aid and people in need. The applications for help are received via telephone number 11-97 and are being processed by the volunteers. The transfer of humanitarian aid to the United Centre was a logical and timely step – overall, we provided more than 3000 ready-made food kits and thousands of tons of bulk food, such as vegetables and eggs.

Video: United Centre for the Coordination of Assistance to the Vulnerable in Tashkent

You mentioned volunteers. Who are they and who are the people who receive help from the United Centre?

All the work at the Centre is carried out by volunteers and the representatives of local governments. They are also engaged in the delivery of aid based on the applications received, including the targeted delivery. Volunteers are the ordinary citizens of Tashkent, many of them are very young, and some of them are students. I would like to express special thanks to all of them. Despite the risk of contracting coronavirus and a heavy load, they work tirelessly every day, with no reward. They could spend time in quarantine at home, in comfort, but they chose to help those who are facing difficulty, despite this work not being easy, both physically and mentally.

Video: interview with Madina Ruzmatova, volunteer of the Centre

The last stage of humanitarian aid was again focused on the regions – which ones and why?

On 1 May, a flood occurred in the Syrdarya region, and tens of thousands of people were evacuated and housed in schools and colleges. The Ministry of Justice launched a charity campaign to support the flood victims, called “Salam, Sardoba, Biz Birgamiz!” (“Hello, Sardoba, we are together!”). Various organizations and private philanthropists joined this initiative. We also immediately joined these efforts, and in a few days, we prepared more than 2000 humanitarian aid kits and sent them to the Syrdarya, Ferghana and Jizzakh regions. 

Photo: preparation of humanitarian aid packages, Tashkent (“Hello, Sardoba, we are together!” initiative)

You visited the scene of the disaster and met with the victims. Please tell us about it.

Of course, it is not easy to see the consequences of such a tragedy, but I was very impressed with how quickly and smoothly both the state departments and the philanthropists worked. Such solidarity and commitment can overcome any difficulty. People were very happy to receive help. Comfortable accommodation conditions were created for them, and by now many have already returned home.

Photo: delivery of humanitarian aid packages, Ferghana region (“Hello, Sardoba, we are together!” initiative)

What are the next stages of the ICF social programmed to support the population during the pandemic?

The ICF assistance programme is not yet complete. As I said, the stages are determined as the situation develops and depending on the needs of the population. Our next step will be the delivery of medical equipment, and we are now considering further steps to assist the vulnerable.

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