As local communities across the country rally around each other in the face of COVID-19, the body representing the international development sector in Wales has called for a rallying of our global community too.
The Wales Overseas Agency Group (WOAG), a representative alliance of the international development sector in Wales is not immune to the challenges of COVID-19. The urgency of the domestic situation is obvious, but we have seen the best of humanity, as local communities rally around each other to support our vulnerable through this unprecedented time. We mustn’t forget also that we are part of a global community, in which we rely upon for vital support such as food and medicine, just as others rely on our help.
The challenges faced by the sector are similar to the challenges faced by other sectors. A much-decreased workforce, inability to recruit new staff and fundraising activities have all but ceased.
War-torn countries such as Syria and Yemen are already in a precarious position without the added pressure of a pandemic; their fragile health care systems are ill-equipped to deal with COVID-19.
The 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP26, was due to be held this year in Glasgow, Scotland. This is now postponed until 2021, and with it, important and pressing decisions on dealing with the climate crisis have been postponed too.
Despite unprecedented challenging times, Wales has much to celebrate. The sector has been able to move lots of educational activity online ensuring Welsh students can continue their learning with excellent resources .
Webinars have been organised between organisations in the Global South and Wales to ensure shared learning and mutual support.
The sector’s international networks through churches, fair trade groups and hospitals, are all working to look after the immediate needs of the communities they operate in. The sector is doing this by building and supporting campaigns to write off the debt of developing countries that are being devastated by this pandemic.
Co-Chair of WOAG and head of Hub Cymru Africa, Claire O’Shea commented:
“The pandemic shows us just how vulnerable we all are to a virus that does not discriminate.
“While the effects here in Wales have been devastating, many people in the developing world are even more vulnerable. Most don’t have access to handwashing facilities, cramped living conditions mean social distancing isn’t an option, and the threats posed by hunger are more immediate than the risk of catching COVID-19, so their better option is to continue to work. We must act in solidarity with our global neighbours. This virus will remain a risk as long as we have countries with fragile health-care systems.”
Co-Chair of WOAG and head of Oxfam Cymru Rachel Cable commented:
“For decades, Oxfam has worked with partners in some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
“We’ve provided life-saving water and sanitation facilities to promote good hygiene practices like handwashing to help tackle diseases like cholera and typhoid, as well as Ebola.
“Never did I imagine that, here in Wales, washing our hands would become quite so vital. But handwashing alone isn’t enough. Oxfam is deeply concerned about how the poorest and most vulnerable people will be hit by COVID-19 – both at home and around the world.
“The economic fallout from the pandemic could push half a billion more people into poverty unless urgent action is taken by world leaders. Wales must now step up and demonstrate its commitment to being a globally responsible nation.”
Notes to editors
 The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) have published resources for primary school-aged and secondary school-aged pupils. Available at: https://cafod.org.uk/Education/Education-resources
 Size of Wales have published outdoor activities, classroom activities, and more on their website. Available at: https://sizeofwales.org.uk/education/education-resources/
For interviews, please contact:
Peter Frederick Gilbey, Communications Manager, Hub Cymru Africa