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On World Humanitarian Day (WHD) August 19, the world commemorates humanitarian workers killed and injured in the course of their work, and we honour all aid and health workers who continue, despite the odds, to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need.

#RealLifeHeroes – a thank you to the people who have committed their lives to helping others.

This year, WHD pays special tribute to the real-life heroes who have committed their lives to helping others in the most extreme circumstances throughout the world.

WHD 2020 comes as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Over recent months, COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around the world. The lack of access and restrictions placed by Governments around the world has resulted in communities, civil society, and local NGOs being the frontline of the response.

International development projects support the global humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing assistance, training, and essential resources to those who provide life-saving support to others – the world's real-life heroes.

Learn more about International Development & COVID-19 »

A Lifesaver in Times of COVID-19 – Face Masks Made in Post-Conflict Central African Republic


Just a couple of months ago in the Central African Republic, most citizens and healthcare workers were struggling in getting protective masks as the country was confronted with the spread of coronavirus cases.

In countries where social distancing and confinement are difficult to impose, masks are an essential element of the response. Extraordinary times required an extraordinary solution. Ten million masks needed to be locally produced with standards respecting World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In record time, the World Bank supported LONDO project ("Stand-Up" in Sango) – currently the largest cash-for-work program in the country – was able to produce more than 2.4 million masks so far.

“The [Central African Republic] Minister of Health Pierre Somsé asked for the World Bank assistance in sourcing 10 million masks that could not be found on the international market. We had to find an innovative approach and we turned to the LONDO project and our partners,” shared Han Fraeters, World Bank Country Manager for the Central African Republic. “What started as a health response with a focus on saving lives by delivering protective masks, also became a response to the economic impact by providing livelihoods to 18,000 tailors who have been recruited and to 300 local firms that have been contracted through the project.”

Amal Souleymane, a seamstress by training, was recruited in June by the COMMODE sewing workshop in the capital of Bangui works tirelessly behind her sewing machine in making masks.

Souleymane is a single mother of four children whose husband was killed walking home from work two years ago by a stray bullet.

‘‘This seed that they have sown in my life is germinating and will mature durably and invariably,’’ said Amal with a smile. With the money she earned, she started to repair part of her makeshift house where she lives with her children. She plans to use the rest of her savings to open her own sewing workshop one day.

Danoe Benjamin, a young tailor helper from the town of Bégoua, is ironing the different pieces of fabric to give them the right shape.

For Benjamin, what attracted him to the job was the urge of being useful and helping the collective efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic. He is now making a good living each week. Coming from a family of 13 children, he dropped out of school in class 3. Without a proper education and without a job, he was left by himself and had started joining a group of young people who engaged in uncivil activities.

In the Central African Republic, a large proportion of young people are very vulnerable due to lack of training and jobs. Many get recruited into armed groups and turn to violence.

Supporting the Supply Lines that Keep Health Workers Safe from COVID-19


The world faces an acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads. Shortages of medical masks, protective suits, goggles, and gloves are putting the lives of frontline healthcare workers at risk.

The production processes and supply chains that feed into the production of masks, gloves, and other PPE need to be secured to provide the essential support that our frontliners need.

Managing the current supply chain to meet the surging demand is challenging. Many producers have already exceeded their surge capacity. Major disruptions to global supply chains and logistics due to stringent containment measures are also impeding output.

To secure supply lines, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is focusing its work on strengthening their collaboration with regional economies with established global mechanisms like the Pandemic Supply Chain Network coordinated by the WHO. As countries and regions face different infection curves at different times, efficient resource allocation on a global scale helps support individual countries by minimizing strains on limited domestic resources.

Frontline health workers need more masks, gloves, and other vital equipment to protect themselves as they save lives. For this to happen, the production process and the vital supply chains that feed into the production of PPEs must be secured.

Asia is home to some of the world’s top producers of personal protective equipment for medical personnel.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves, and 1.6 million protective goggles are required for COVID-19 response each month.

Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being is essential to sustainable development. It is at the forefront more than ever as the world continued to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

In countries where social distancing is difficult to impose Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a crucial part of the response. The production of PPEs, which started as a health response to save lives, has also become a response to the economic impact by providing livelihoods to people.

International development projects support #RealLifeHeroes by providing training, assistance, and essential resources that they need to save lives.

UNDB facilitates global health and well being by supporting and encouraging investment in countries’ efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

View COVID-19 International Development Projects on UNDB »