December Global Update: Highlights of 2021

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What Your Support Makes Possible: COVID-19 Update

Catholic Relief Services is pleased to share the highlights of our key 2021 emergency response and recovery activities, as well as the most urgent humanitarian needs—and opportunities for global impact—for 2022. This work is possible thanks to the generous support of private and public donors, the dedication of our local partners, and the unwavering presence of Caritas and the Catholic Church.


health care provider and patient in India

In India, CRS and our partners have supported primary health care centers with lifesaving supplies such as oxygen and personal protective equipment.

Photo by Ramita Rathod for CRS



Since March 2020, CRS has reached 28,384,006 people with COVID‑19 response activities. We continue to focus on vaccination and vaccine rollout support. Meanwhile, comprehensive CRS programming continues to help prevent the spread of COVID‑19, strengthen the capacity of and support for local health responders, and assist extremely vulnerable families and communities as they manage the long‑term impacts of the pandemic.
CRS has been working closely with partners and local government officials in several countries to adapt humanitarian and development projects to the COVID‑19 context. As our country programs and partners implement critical humanitarian programming, we are especially mindful of high‑risk populations, including elderly adults and vulnerable children, refugees and migrants, and people with compromised immune systems or disabilities, and their caregivers.
Urgent support is essential to help CRS teams and our partners respond to the evolving needs of this pandemic in diverse contexts, for families and communities who are in greatest need.



28,384,006 people reached with COVID‑19 programming.

28,306,494 people reached through risk communication activities with COVID-related information.

3,268,897 people reached with water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as living supplies.

33,910 health care staff trained in COVID‑19 prevention or care.

3,022 health facilities provided with COVID‑specific support.

583,615 people reached with assistance—food, cash or vouchers—for essential needs.

124,671 people supported with livelihoods assistance.

98,625 people engaged in psychosocial support.

27,645 people trained in protection and safeguarding.


Highlights of 2021

Comprehensive programming took place across CRS country programs throughout the year. Here are highlights from each region:


medical staff wearing ppe in India

Many of the doctors and nurses at St. Philomena’s Hospital in Bangalore, India, wearing PPE kits that were donated by Catholic Relief Services.
Photo by Ramita Rathod for CRS


In India, CRS is working with the health ministry to reach 8,000 supervisors of 150,000 community health workers—called accredited social health activists, or ASHAs—who use mobile phone tools to provide links between the health system and rural communities, encouraging child immunization, offering first aid and providing advice to pregnant women. These efforts aim to improve the health outcomes for 174.6 million people. In the fall of 2021, CRS rolled out a COVID‑19 communications campaign with Caritas India, including the regional Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and 200 diocesan partners. The effort trained 211 staff and provided audio‑visual tools in 10 regional languages. As of November 2021, 8,245 volunteers had reached 1.8 million families with critical prevention and vaccine messaging. CRS has supported 2,200 vulnerable children who lost one or both parents to COVID‑19 with food and other critical assistance. We have also provided food, hygiene and living supplies to families affected by the pandemic.


In Gaza, CRS reached 50,212 people, at risk of exposure to COVID‑19, with in‑home services, inclusive of medical screenings and hygiene kits. Also, CRS provided 35,715 people with vouchers to buy hygiene supplies. A two‑day CRS training for 450 health care staff across the West Bank and Gaza equipped participants with infection prevention practices. Health care facilities also received personal protective equipment and supplies, including gloves, masks and gowns. In Lebanon, CRS partnered with nine faith‑based organizations to reach 1.3 million people with messages about safe practices for prevention, care and vaccine access using social media campaigns, videos,emails, texts,
brochures and bulletin boards.



In Nigeria, in partnership with the Core Group Polio Project, CRS participated in a virtual national training of health workers to ramp up COVID‑19 vaccination in Yobe State. The training was organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and covered surveillance, vaccine handling, storage, distribution, administration and waste management. In Borno State, CRS supported community‑based nutrition workers to conduct home visits to more than 5,500 people to provide information on prevention and hygiene practices. Female caregivers of children enrolled in CRS programs received nutritional support and prevention information.


lab tech at microscope in Liberia

 A lab technician at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, wears personal protective equipment supplied by CRS.

Photo by Carielle Doe for CRS


In Kenya, CRS is a key partner contributing to the government’s vaccination efforts and participated in the launch of the national campaign in Nairobi and Kisumu. With the government’s goal of vaccinating 10 million people by
December 2021, CRS support included training health care workers on vaccine rollout and risk communication, contact tracing, mobilizing health volunteers and supporting outreach teams. CRS efforts build on the longstanding
partnership between CRS and Kenya’s health ministry, especially its work on the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Core Group Polio Project supporting community‑based disease surveillance.
In Uganda, CRS supported local government officials with health system strengthening, risk communication and community engagement. Efforts included 123 mobile van trips, 35 radio talk shows and 1,800 radio messages in the local dialect. CRS and district health officials also trained 630 village health team members on good practices in home‑based care, as well as data quality and reporting, to support communities at the village level. CRS transformed Namboole Stadium in Kampala into a treatment center, and it is now being expanded into a central operations center for patient care.
In Somalia, CRS recruited COVID‑19 health workers in the Gedo region to support vaccination, testing, treatment and engagement activities, benefiting 6,835 people. CRS also supported the operationalization of the Garbaharey
isolation center.


In Liberia, CRS is combating vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. In Mali, CRS is participating in behavior change communication efforts targeting Malian men aged 25 to 35 using Facebook‑sponsored posts. In Sierra Leone, the
Global Fund Malaria Program has incorporated COVID‑19 behavior change messages developed with COVAX, the Gavi‑funded COVID‑19 Vaccines Global Access program, at the community level and in the media to promote prevention.


In Madagascar, CRS conducted a study on perceptions of COVID‑19, and will support vaccination campaigns and outreach, including the establishment of mobile vaccination sites among vulnerable populations in the south.
In Lesotho, CRS is supporting cash‑for‑work activities to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods. The activities focus on soil and water conservation, rehabilitation of wetlands and reseeding of grasslands.
And, in Zimbabwe, CRS continues to provide personal protective equipment and supports Catholic health facilities with health education, food and training.



Caritas Venezuela staff

Caritas Venezuela provides daily meals to vulnerable people, such as the elderly and prisoners. 

Photo courtesy of Caritas Venezuela


The CRS EMPOWER project—for Empowering Partner Organizations Working on Emergency Responses—supports 20 partners in 44 countries across the region to strengthen their humanitarian response capacity. This support helps partners lead responses to the impacts of t he COVID‑19 pandemic, as well as to other crises. In Colombia, for example, EMPOWER partner Caritas Colombia is working in border areas and, since the COVID‑19 outbreak, has supported 22,636 extremely vulnerable Venezuelan migrant and host community members. Support has included assisting 14,964 people with access to health care; engaging 7,446 people in hygiene-promotion workshops; and distributing 37,349 hygiene kits. In Brazil, EMPOWER partner Caritas Brasileira reached 43% of families in the vast state of Amazonas with prevention and vaccine information, and hygiene supplies. Caritas also supported radio programming on safe practices that reached 1.8 million people. In Brazil’s state of Roraima, Caritas provided water and sanitation infrastructure and hygiene supplies to 11,000 Venezuelan migrants living on the streets and in
informal settlements.


Winter 2021-2022 Global Emergency Update