COVID-19 Rapid Needs Assessments

HelpAge International and partner organisations across the global network are conducting a series of Rapid Needs Assessments (RNAs) to analyse both the primary and secondary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older people around the world, and ensure that we respond to their specific needs.

These RNAs contain key findings, observations, and a detailed analysis of the many challenges older people face as a result of COVID-19. They also provide a range of country-specific recommendations to adapt programmes, and key advocacy messages for humanitarian agencies and national governments.



In Ethiopia older people, especially those living in refugee camps, were already severely challenged by the impact of frequent natural disasters, conflict, displacement and concurrent disease outbreaks prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. In recognition of the increased risk created by COVID-19, HelpAge conducted two RNAs, one in Borena's Oromia Region and another in Gambella, to help identify what support older people need. Find out more about the RNA in Borena and Gambella.

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Mozambique mounted its response to COVID-19 whilst grappling with growing armed conflict in the north of the country and attempting to recover from the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai in March 2019. While confirmed cases remain comparatively low, the economic and social fallout of COVID-19, coupled with these pre-existing vulnerabilities, has severely impacted older people in the country. HelpAge undertook this assessment in May 2020 in four provinces, working through local partners ACIDECO, APITE, ASADEC and Vukoxa. Find out more.

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COVID-19 cases continue to increase. Despite easing COVID-19 containment measures, many Kenyans, particularly older people living in Nairobi, remain at serious risk as many have lost their livelihoods and are struggling to meet their basic needs. HelpAge conducted an RNA to highlight the many risks older people face and to provide advocacy messages to humanitarian partners and the Kenyan government. Find out more.

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In Rwanda, due in part to effective early government interventions, reported deaths and cases from COVID-19 remain relatively low. However, the impact on older people of the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has been considerable. Therefore, to help evaluate the needs of older people during this unprecedented time and prepare for a potential increase in cases and deaths from COVID-19, Nsindagiza Organisation, with support from HelpAge, undertook a multi-sector Rapid Needs Assessment. Find out more.

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South Sudan

The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the already complex humanitarian situation in South Sudan. Many people live a hand to mouth existence relying on unstable day jobs and humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the country remains ill-equipped to handle the crisis due to its weak healthcare infrastructure. Therefore to assess COVID-19’s impacts a RNA was conducted in partnership with Humanitarian and Development Consortium (HDC) in Juba. Find out more.

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The Tanzanian government has not released aggregate numbers of COVID-19 cases or deaths since April 29. However, anecdotal information suggests that since then the number of cases and deaths continue to rise. While currently there are no cases of COVID-19 in the three camps where HelpAge is working with refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo the potential impact of a COVID-19 outbreak in the camps could be devastating. To better understand how the virus is affecting older people and to determine future programming needs, a multi-sector RNA was done in Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps in Kigoma, Tanzania. Find out more.

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Older people, especially older refugees, remain one of the groups most at risk of COVID-19 in Uganda. In addition to the pre-existing socio-economic challenges older people face, Uganda hosts the third-largest refugee population in the world and the largest in Africa. To assess the needs of older refugees, HelpAge conducted a RNA in Adjumani refugee settlement based in Northern Uganda on the border with South Sudan. Find out more.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented socio-economic and health challenges for older people in Zimbabwe. The crisis has resulted in the breakdown of an already weakened health sector which lacks sufficient medication and medical staff. Furthermore, the number of cases is likely to be far higher than reported, due to the limited number of testing kits and the porous border with South Africa. To assess the needs of older people in Zimbabwe, The Center for Community Development Solutions (CCDS), with support from HelpAge, conducted a RNA in northern and eastern Zimbabwe. Find out more.

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The arrival of COVID-19 has further aggravated pre-existing problems within the country including political instability and food insecurity. The health care system lacks sufficient medical and appropriate protective equipment. The governement lockdown measures have made many people lose their jobs, while others, in the informal sectors, had to break movement restrictions by continuing to work in a contracting economy. Moreover, the lack of confidence in the government by the population has resulted on treatment centres been attacked. Find out more on this factsheet and the RNA.


Asia-Pacific regional overview

As COVID-19 spreads across Asia-Pacific, governments have started taking drastic public health measures to protect their citizens. While the threat of COVID-19 remains high across the region, we are witnessing a faster spread of the virus in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Find out more.

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In mid-May 2020 Cox's Bazar registered its first case of COVID-19. Since then movement restriction and a rising death toll, as well as the start of the rainy season, has made a difficult situation worse for older people. Find out more.

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In Cambodia, like many countries in South East Asia, the deaths and cases from COVID-19 remain comparatively low. However, especially the secondary impacts of COVID-19 are making it more difficult for older people to access their basic goods and services. This includes access to health facilities and access to sufficient food. HelpAge Cambodia conducted a multi-sector RNA to assess the challenges facing older people and to inform programming and policy decisions. Find out more.

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As of early August, COVID-19 cases and deaths in India continue to rise. The country is also facing significant economic and social repercussions from the pandemic, which means that many older people are not only at risk of catching COVID-19 but also of not being able to meet their basic needs. In collaboration with HelpAge, GRAVIS undertook a multi-sector RNA in Rajasthan which provides a snapshot of the needs of older people in the state and will be used to adapt programming and advocacy messages. Find out more.

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Myanmar has experienced a relatively lower number of COVID-19 cases compared to many other countries but the socio-economic impacts of government-imposed restrictions are having severe impacts on the population, especially older women and men. Find out more.

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The impacts of COVID-19 are being strongly felt by almost all segments of Philippine society. However, older people are not only more likely to die of COVID-19 but are at also higher risk of abuse and being denied access to resources. To be able to adapt its programming and provide advocacy messages, The Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), in partnership with HelpAge, undertook a multi-sector RNA. Find out more.

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Middle East


In Iraq, COVID-19 has further exacerbated a fragile and struggling economy, the ongoing insecurity and political instability, putting older people at serious risk. Currently, many older people have had to reduce food intake, while others are unable to access their essential medicine. Furthermore, significant protection risks have worsened with increased rates of neglect, isolation, and financial abuse. To better understand the emerging needs of older people in Iraq, Oxfam and HelpAge undertook a multi-sector RNA. Find out more.

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Jordan is reducing the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the potential for a second wave remains. Furthermore, there have been significant economic and social repercussions for older people as a result of the secondary impacts. Find out more.

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On top of a COVID-19 outbreak, Lebanon has been experiencing prolonged economic uncertainty which has resulted in the rising cost of food and medicine, as well as unemployment. This coupled with the impact of COVID-19 has led to many older people struggling to meet their basic needs. Find out more.


The COVID-19 outbreak has exacerbated the pre-existing humanitarian needs of older people in northwest Syria. Older people needs remain high in all sectors in this region, especially for shelter, food, water, sanitation, hygiene and protection. Reported cases of COVID-19 remain low but an outbreak in the area would be devastating to a population already at risk with an under-prepared health system. HelpAge and the Syrian Expatriates Medical Association (SEMA) undertook a multi-sector RNA to be able to adapt their programmes and provide advocacy messages to humanitarian partners. Find out more.

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HelpAge & the Global Network's response to COVID-19

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