YKP COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund

Posted on Apr 21, 2020

Youth LEAD establishes the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to support young key population programmes and initiatives across Asia and the Pacific

COVID-19, the global pandemic that has changed the way of life for all. In the past, we have seen how pandemics have played a role in shaping human history but more importantly, highlight where positive changes and outcomes are made. We recognise the impactful contributions by our community members, workers on the frontline and people in power who are leading us out of this crisis.

Youth LEAD has been proactively observing the pandemic concerning the shifting needs of young people living with and affected by HIV. Working closely with network partners, stakeholders and UN agencies alike, to identify areas of additional support, the team has uncovered alarming trends across the region. We express deep concern for the ongoing struggles and challenges that exist for young key populations and young people living with HIV during this pandemic.

In March 2020, Youth LEAD supported the Interagency Task Team (IATT) on Young Key Populations (YKPs) in Asia and the Pacific with the development and release of a rapid survey. The survey aims to collect data on information needs, medication on hand and ability to access HIV services and support networks among young key populations and young people living with HIV (YPLHIV). The findings will inform contingency plans and actions to help countries continue to provide access to HIV and other services for vulnerable and key populations as we fight to get COVID-19 under control. The outcomes and data of the survey will support local solutions through the leadership of the young key populations and young people living with HIV in providing information, finding joint problem-solving measures and being a voice for the voiceless.

The survey did not only highlight existing challenges but reaffirm trends where YKPs and YPLHIV are disproportionately experiencing more significant difficulties with access to HIV prevention, treatment and care. Youth LEAD focal points and members have reported cases of limited antiretroviral (ARV) supplies in several countries and expressed concerns with sustaining supplies of essential medicines over a long period. In cases such as India, young people have been unable to access ARV supplies as well as psychological and mental support services from clinics and hospitals due to nationwide lockdowns. Restrictions of travel, local or national have created challenges for YPLHIV and young people in general who rely on government-run services all across the region.

Earlier in April, Youth LEAD conducted an internal situational analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic among its members and network partners to identify areas for additional support. The findings from the IATT YKP COVID-19 Survey supported many of the claims made on the challenges experienced by young people and across the region. Subsequently, Youth LEAD communicated these needs to existing donors such as the Global Fund and the Robert Carr Fund, to explore the possibility of fund-re-allocation for YKP COVID-19 related programmes and initiatives. The Robert Carr Fund agreed to this proposal and allowed Youth LEAD to proceed with establishing the fund for network partners, community members and those affected alike. An allocation of a small emergency seed fund for network partners to support ongoing COVID-19 efforts would provide more significant support and security for marginalised groups. The Robert Carr Fund (RCF), one of Youth LEAD's main donors agreed to the proposal and approved the re-allocation of 10% from Youth LEAD's current budget towards the COVID-19 response. The YKP COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund was established on Monday 20th April 2020 with a total budget of $29000USD allocated to support COVID-19 relief efforts on issues related to YKPs and YPLHIV.

The process to apply for the YKP COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for organisations and networks will remain informal (corresponding via email) and will be reviewed on a case to case basis. The criteria to access funds include:

  • Organisations and networks currently receiving funding or have in the past received funding from Youth LEAD since 2017;
  • Priority has been given to existing network partners;
  • Networks proposing or have already developed initiatives directly related to COVID-19 and YKPs or YPHLIV
  • Funds will be disbursed similarly or in conjunction with the YKP Grants Programme (a.k.a. Small Grants Programme)

Thus far, Youth LEAD has received concept notes and budget proposals from eight network partners. Youth LEAD has reviewed and agreed to support the following plans from:

  1. YKP LEAD (Kathmandu, Nepal) - supporting critical harm reduction services and support for people who use drugs on the streets in Kathmandu
  2. YKP LEAD and NAP+N (Kathmandu, Nepal) - supporting essential relief packages and ARV to the children living with HIV under 12 years old across Nepal. This is a partial contribution to the more significant efforts made by NAP+N (National Association of People Living with HIV)
  3. Inti Muda (Jakarta, Indonesia) - supporting programmes and activities of local YKP organisations in seven provinces across Indonesia. Activities include essential care packages, online counselling services with a psychologist and seed funding for emergencies
  4. Ya_All (Manipur, India) - supporting mental health services, food and vital medicine packages for marginalised groups
  5. Human Touch Foundation (Goa, India) - supporting the ARV home-delivery scheme and psychological support programmes for adolescents living with HIV
  6. YPEER Pilipinas (Manila, the Philippines) - supporting online initiatives that provide guidance for adolescents and young people on SRHR and the needs of YKPs in emergency settings

Youth LEAD is currently reviewing other proposals and is open to the submission of additional proposals from youth-led and youth-serving organisations and networks. YKP networks and organisations are encouraged to reach out with a concept note and budget proposal (one-page) if they are experiencing greater economic and social challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any specific questions concerning the relief fund, contact Gaj Gurung, the Regional Coordinator at Youth LEAD at gaj@youth-lead.org

Youth LEAD would like to thank the incredible efforts made by young people across the region during these unprecedented times. Young people are persevering amid the crisis, and we recognise the incredible contributions you have made for your community, country and region. Youth LEADing the #YKPCOVID19 response.

Edited by: Eddy Rudram (Communications Officer, Youth LEAD)