Covid-19 updates

23 Apr 2020

This page is no longer being updated. For the latest on Hand in Hand’s coronavirus response, click here.

Covid-19 has arrived in Hand in Hand’s countries of operation. Here, we provide updates on how we’re responding.

For information about how you can reduce your risk of infection, visit the World Health Organization website.

And to read a message from Hand in Hand International Chair Bruce Grant, click here.

Key updates

  • Teams in Afghanistan join fight against virus

  • Teams in Kenya join emergency response

  • Staff in Tanzania relay health information to members via mobile phone


Hand in Hand is delivering soap, chlorine solution and crucial virus prevention training to 26,000 Afghans as part of the country’s official response to Covid-19 – with plans to reach 70,000 more.

The new project comes after a government lockdown in late-March banned gatherings of all kinds. In response, our usual business and skills training was suspended until 30 April – a date we’re keeping under constant review.

Afghanistan recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on 24 February. Within weeks, Hand in Hand trainers were instructing members – many living in remote areas that public health messages don’t always reach – on virus prevention measures including handwashing, social distancing and more. Business and skills training continued during this time, with group meetings replaced by smaller home visits wherever possible. (For more on our initial response to Covid-19, click here.)

There are 1,092 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 36 deaths in Afghanistan according to WHO figures, though the true number is expected to be many times higher. It’s also expected to keep rising as thousands of displaced Afghans cross the border every day from Iran, one of the hardest-hit countries in the world.


In co-ordination with county governments, Hand in Hand is connecting with 86,000 members countrywide, providing support in two key areas: slowing/halting the spread of Covid-19 and ensuring food security for our members and their families.

With the country on lockdown, teams are trading Self-Help Groups for SMS’, motorbikes for mobile phones, reaching out to thousands of members individually to deliver key health messages (e.g. handwashing guidelines), signpost to vital health services, and counter fake news. At the same time, with food security a growing concern country- and indeed region-wide, they’re pointing agribusiness members towards alternative supply sources, signposting to Covid-19 relief opportunities such as soap-making and mask-making, and feeding back to government teams to identify communities in particular need. All this while restructuring repayment plans for members who’ve taken loans.

Behind the scenes, we’re ramping up efforts across several key projects, with work ongoing to: fully digitise our data from collection to analysis, allowing trainers to learn and adapt in real-time; develop the next generation Hand in Hand programmes, targeting alumni from previous projects for a second phase of higher income growth; and instruct staff on Hand in Hand Eastern Africa’s new training manuals, deepening our emphasis on women’s entrepreneurship.

Kenya recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on 13 March. Two days later, local officials requested a pause on Hand in Hand group meetings as strict social distancing measures came into effect countrywide. Accordingly, and to play our part in halting the spread of the virus, Hand in Hand Eastern Africa temporarily suspended field activities until 1 July – a date we’re keeping under constant review.

There are 296 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 14 deaths in Kenya, according to WHO figures.


Like in Kenya, staff in Tanzania are relaying virus prevention guidelines to rural, hard-to-reach members via mobile phone.

The country recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on 16 March. Two days later, officials closed schools and suspended social gatherings. Accordingly, and to play our part in halting the spread of the virus, Hand in Hand’s team in Tanzania temporarily suspended field until 1 July – a date we’re keeping under constant review.

There are 255 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 10 deaths in Tanzania, according to WHO figures.