Thai government and USAID partner on COVID-19 relief.

With a mobile application developed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Thailand and the Red Cross have been able to target help to households in need of COVID-19 relief more precisely.

According to Reliefweb, the world’s largest humanitarian portal, Thai households experienced a sharp jump in the need for assistance in 2020. However, isolated by both the pandemic and floods caused by severe weather, many of them were a challenge to reach.

But Thai government agencies and the Thai Red Cross Society were able to get to most of those in distress with the help of a mobile application supported by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

The mobile application, named Phonphai (which means “get out of danger” in Thai), facilitates coordination between the Red Cross, relief agencies, and Thai government Ministries responsible for disaster response and relief. Thailand has 19 agencies involved in various aspects of disaster relief.

Consequently, these agencies were able to help families in most provinces across the Kingdom. They distributed over 162,000 COVID-19 relief kits from March to December 2020, including food and essential water, sanitation, and hygiene items.

They also provided nearly 83,000 relief kits to flood-affected households in a number of provinces. Those kits contained basic medicine, safe drinking water, and food such as instant noodles, canned fish and rice.

An important element of Thailand’s success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic has been the work of nearly a million community health volunteers. Based primarily in rural communities, the volunteers have been using Phonphai to support vulnerable people in quarantine at home and conduct primary health screenings.

When they locate a family in distress and determine their needs, the volunteers order relief kits through Phonphai. The kits will then be delivered directly to the households that need them.

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