Statement on COVID-19 Response

The impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been intense and far reaching. Early in March CBA’s senior management made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all travel related to the SIRD program. Days later the World Health Organisation characterised the outbreak as a global pandemic. In the weeks that have followed, international activity has ground to a halt. Canada’s borders were recently closed to non-essential travel and vigorous efforts are being made by the Canadian government and citizens to bring Canadians home.

We know that you are worried about your health and that of your family, colleagues, clients and businesses. You may also have questions about the SIRD program in the new reality of a virtually unprecedented global shutdown.

CBA International Initiatives is closely monitoring the pandemic as well as Canadian and international responses. Our top priority remains the health, safety and well-being of CBA members, staff and our volunteers.

Here are some of the measures that CBAII has been and will continue to take to ensure the safety of SIRD staff and volunteers, as well as the continuity of our international development initiatives beyond the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Fortunately, there were no Canadian SIRD program staff in East Africa at the time travel restrictions went into effect. Other Canadian volunteers who were overseas on CBAII programs at the time restrictions went into effect have all been safely repatriated home.
  • All program related travel is temporarily suspended. Approvals for future travel will follow consultation with the SIRD project director, CBA’s senior management and the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) desk officer in charge of the SIRD program.
  • We are in daily contact with SIRD program staff in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. At present they are under similar work from home orders from their national governments. East Africa has to date experienced a relatively low incident of COVID-19 with Uganda’s first confirmed case reported on Sunday March 22nd, 2020. Kenya had less than 20 confirmed cases and Tanzania less than 10 as at the same date. 
  • CBAII staff have been and will continue to work from home. We will remain engaged with the situation and continue to receive updates from GAC as these become available.
  • Program activities which are not dependent on travel or large conferences will proceed in the coming weeks. These include law reform (review of legislation, developing and reviewing policy submissions, etc.), planning and finetuning women’s advocacy actions for implementation as soon as gatherings are allowed, support to community development committees, and support to legal aid cases.

As the pandemic abates and global travel resumes, we anticipate a cautious return to field activities. We are still some distance from this eventuality but will be engaging GAC on measures to allow the project to run its course and achieve full results within the constraints that have been imposed by the global shutdown.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update this post as new information becomes available. For questions about the SIRD program’s responses to COVID-19, please contact the project director at: