THE LATEST: With care and resilience, Tanager is responding to COVID 19 in the communities where we work

by Ana Bilik, President, Tanager

A picture from my trip to India for International Women's Day in 2019 - I miss visiting with these ladies and our team!

We are living in unprecedented times, at least in my lifetime, where a global pandemic is evolving so quickly. As a global organization, Tanager is seeing and feeling the impacts of COVID-19 around the world. At the outset, our primary imperative has been the health and safety of our staff, families, and the communities where we work. As flights were being cancelled and boarders closed, Tanager quickly directed its energies to repatriating traveling staff members; closing offices and transitioning to global teleworking; and communicating with partners and people in the communities where we work about social distancing and proper hygiene (hand washing) to ensure everyone’s safety.

While travel has been suspended and offices have been closed, Tanager staff members’ resilience and dedication are humbling. They are working remotely to deliver on commitments to the communities and partners we serve, with the safety of the communities where we work in the front of our minds. Thanks to strong relationships with our partners and communities, along with the use of the many media channels available to us, activities that were being done in person are now being carried out remotely.

Staff in Kenya are now conducting interviews with producers in Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia via video calls; they are conducting virtual trainings with clients in Nigeria. Extension officers in India are connecting with smallholder farmers through WhatsApp and SMS, providing them with resources on how to take proper precautions during the crisis, while helping farmers connect to markets to maintain their incomes.

With varying degrees of sheltering-in-place and lockdowns, the longer term economic and social impacts are becoming abundantly clear. Disruptions to livelihoods, supply chains, and food systems are straining people’s ability to sustain themselves and their families. We are seeing job productivity losses around the world. The World Bank is forecasting that COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998, pushing an addition $49 million people into extreme poverty around the world. Reports project that 265 million people in low- and middle-income countries will experience severe food insecurity by the end of 2020, doubling the figure from 2019.

Tanager’s work co-creating life-changing economic opportunities is as, if not more, important than ever. Agriculture, workforce development, resilient supply chains, women’s empowerment, and good nutrition are fundamental to economic stability through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to our global footprint, with staff and partner organizations based in the communities where we work, Tanager has been able to support producers while adhering to shelter-in-place mandates and maintaining everyone’s safety. And with boots on the ground, our strong, resilient, well-connected team are able to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances for this on-going support.

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, Tanager will remain steadfast in its commitment to ensure people’s health and safety in the near term while also mitigating the longer-term economic impact. This continued commitment would not be possible without the unwavering support of our partners who have worked with us at every step to ensure both the safety and the continued economic and social well-being of the communities where we work. We believe that in the face of unprecedented challenges, the global community must – and will – mount an unprecedented response.