COVID-19: a UK NGO’s experiences in Tajikistan. Analysis of the situation from our UK NGO partner Healthprom

9 April 2020

Jonathan Watkins

UK project manager for Tajikistan, HealthProm

In Tajikistan HealthProm works with public organisations, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population to support families to care for their children so they don’t abandon them in a children’s home.

Together, we have set up family support services next to the baby homes, and in the past 6 months, our family centres have merged with the old closed state baby homes to produce open community-oriented Family and child Support Centres.  As well as helping children remain with their parents, we help them return home from institutional care.  We arrange alternative families for children who cannot return to their parents, and work together on safer care and development practices. 

Family support and child development promotion normally takes place in person, but the current COVID-19 pandemic means we have to be ready to work remotely so we do not spread the virus.  Tajikistan has not yet reported cases of infection, so we have time to plan to make sure vulnerable children and families continue to receive support when public health measures are in place.

We have agreed with the Ministry of Health that the children who normally attend our centres will have a ‘home therapy plan’ that parents can deliver with telephone support from project workers.  We are arranging on-line support groups, so nobody feels isolated because of social distancing, and provide the poorest families with a telephone to keep in touch. 

Our project partners are doing a fantastic job to change from our usual face-to-face and hand-on-hand work to remote support for all our beneficiaries. Well done everybody and a big thank you to all our partners in Tajikistan – Hayot dar Oila, Sarchashma and Iroda- and to our partners in the UK – Falkirk Council, the Fostering Network and Mellow Parenting.  Thanks also to our funding partners, the EU and UK Aid.

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