News Release

News Release: ADRA and the Adventist Church Team Up in Historic Collaboration to Respond to the Global COVID-19 Crisis

ADRA worked closely with Adventist churches in 7 out of 10 projects to deliver assistance while many churches were closed

SILVER SPRING, MD (November 19, 2020) — Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist church, has been responding globally to help nearly 20 million survive the significant health challenges and economic impact that the pandemic has created. This global response has created 422 projects so far in 96 countries and has resulted in a historic collaboration between ADRA and the Adventist church during a time when many churches were closed.  

ADRA has outlined this collaboration and the significant impact of this global response in a new COVID-19 Global Report, which ADRA published. View the report HERE.

“ADRA reaffirms its commitment to continue to respond to the urgent needs of disadvantaged communities heavily impacted by the COVID-19 global crisis.  Our global emergency taskforce, in coordination with the Adventist church and our trusted partners is making significant progress in helping vulnerable families recover from the difficult challenges of this pandemic,” says Michael Kruger, ADRA’s president. “We are grateful to the Adventist church for the significant support it has provided, as well as to our donors and volunteers for their continued assistance. We pray that this aid will give comfort and hope to every person we help and a sense of Jesus’ love and compassion.”

ADRA’s COVID-19 Global Report outlines how the agency pivoted from existing development projects to scale up a major response by establishing a global taskforce to implement a new approach. This helped ADRA scale up humanitarian assistance worldwide and leverage limited funds into a $26 million response that included Adventist church entities, governments, multi-lateral organizations, nonprofit organizations, corporations and other trusted partners to ensure vulnerable communities had access to life-saving essentials and life-sustaining support. This included awareness and health promotion, water and sanitation, health training, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, food security, and psycho-social support to vulnerable populations, frontline workers and first responders.


Seventy percent of ADRA’s COVID-19 response operations were established or adapted rapidly in partnership with the Adventist church with minimal or no funding. Despite the office closures and disruptions caused by the pandemic, ADRA successfully executed projects in multiple countries and multiple continents, including the following regions:


The Harbor of Hope Food Pantry in Michigan arranges food items in boxes for distribution. Photo Credit: Victor Rayno

ADRA partnered with the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) to donate USD$4 million in personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, food and cash assistance to Adventist-run food pantries across the United States and Canada.  The donation supported medical facilities facing severe supply shortages in U.S. suburban communities such as Texas, California, Maryland, and New York. More than 200 pallets of PPEs, face shields, globes and essential medical supplies were delivered to the facilities. In Canada, 510 Adventist volunteers from 39 churches also delivered food baskets, hygiene kits, psychosocial support and cash vouchers to nearly 30,000 people.


A beneficiary almost in tears as she receives a cash voucher from ADRA’s country director, Fritz Bissereth, to help her get food.

ADRA used innovative ways to adapt or change existing projects and create new ones to support migrants, refugees and vulnerable populations during the pandemic. The initiatives totaling USD$339,000 ranged from health prevention awareness campaigns, mental health counseling, food security, crisis management training, to PPEs and medical supply donations, as well as water and sanitation projects.  ADRA’s relief operations in this region covered at least nine countries, including Colombia, where hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist employees donated one day of their salary to support families affected by the pandemic.  In El Salvador, efforts helped more than 6,000 small business entrepreneurs and families working in agricultural projects to adapt their skills to continue earning livelihoods during the coronavirus crisis. 


ADRA staffers in Peru help load food items to be distributed to a community stricken by hunger.

ADRA worked closely with the Adventist church and local partners to respond to the region’s health, social and economic crisis.  The response, valued at more than USD$8.8 million, included at least eight countries. The efforts featured mobile laundry and decontamination services in Argentina and Brazil where trained volunteers washed, dried, and sanitized more than 20 tons of clothes regularly for COVID-19 patients. Initiatives also included public health training and assistance to support 13,000 recipients in over 47 health centers for the homeless and trafficked children and adolescents.


ADRA staffers in Europe deliver much-needed face masks to a local hospital.

ADRA’s response in Europe raised local funds to support the most vulnerable populations in developing countries around the world, as well as those inside the European region. The projects worth USD$688,000 were located in some 14 countries. In the United Kingdom, ADRA focused on community hubs for the homeless, refugees, and people with chronic conditions. In Hungary, children received laptops so they could study online. In Albania, students at risk of dropping out of school received tutoring videos via WhatsApp, and in Russia, ADRA volunteers made and distributed 70,000 masks for 35,000 people in disadvantaged communities and health workers. 

Ten European ADRA offices supported humanitarian activities in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Additional relief projects for the underserved communities are already underway in South Sudan, Yemen, Tanzania, Lebanon, Sudan, some West African countries, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. 


Hand sanitizers arrive for distribution in Kibera, Kenya.
Photo credit: James Astleford

While COVID-19 cases in Africa have not surged at the same levels as other regions, the effects of the pandemic and recent natural disasters in the region have created a refugee and food security crisis. To address the challenges facing Africa, ADRA launched 47 projects worth USD$8 million, including activities focused on water and sanitation for more than 53,000 households and orphans, food and hygiene kits for more than 3,600 displaced people in Mali, and protective gear and medical supplies for health professionals serving more than 72,0000 families in Mozambique.  


Hand washing has become a vital education initiative as part of ADRA’s prevention methods in Sri Lanka during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Asia, ADRA worked closely with the Adventist church as well as the European Union, governments, corporations, United Nations agencies, and other local partners to ensure the development achievements of recent years were not lost. To this end, ADRA carried out 75 projects worth nearly USD$1.7 million in at least 15 nations, and many activities focused on adapting existing development projects to educate communities about COVID-19 prevention. Other activities specialized in training community members to use proper sanitation and providing medical resources to community health centers. ADRA in Cambodia helped more than 10,000 households and 800 health workers through COVID-19 projects targeting community health centers.  In the Philippines, ADRA leveraged partnerships with the Adventist University of the Philippines to provide psychosocial support for health workers.  ADRA in Sri Lanka also leveraged funding to attract support from UNICEF to provide awareness about personal protective equipment, hygiene kits, and hand-washing basins.


Local authorities in Cambodia worked with ADRA to secure necessary protective equipment and hygiene items.

ADRA also adapted projects to meet the challenges of the pandemic in the South Pacific and created new projects in partnership with the Adventist church and other partners. The 49 projects totaled USD$1.9 million and were implemented in at least six countries. Some of the activities centered on reaching communities with more than 800 dialects, in places like Papua New Guinea (PNG), where ADRA launched prevention awareness initiatives with multiple communication and education campaigns to ensure communities understand the threat and reduce their risk of infection.  ADRA also trained women and other vulnerable community members to make soap, masks, and other products to sell to improve incomes in the community. In Australia, ADRA provided food and counseling to more than 10,000 low-income residents, migrant families, and vulnerable international students who cannot access government benefits.


ADRA continues providing food to people in Yemen, where two-thirds of the population faces starvation. Photo: Facebook.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, ADRA covers 20 countries including Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. During the pandemic, ADRA has been meeting the emergency needs on the ground by forming alliances with local partners and the Adventist church to increase COVID-19 awareness.  The 27 projects in the region totaling USD$419,000 are supporting refugees, low-income residents, and families affected by civil wars and impacted by recent disasters, such as the Beirut, Lebanon explosion that happened in August. ADRA is also working to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by providing thousands of medical supplies and PPEs to hospitals that were damaged in the explosion serving vulnerable families and children. In Yemen, ADRA has sponsored COVID-19 prevention training and distributed hygiene kits to more than 2,500 households as part of a Danish government-funded project. In Tunisia, more than 400 community members who lost their job, due to the pandemic, received cash vouchers; and in Sudan, water and sanitation support from ADRA in Canada is helping communities to have access to essential cleaning supplies. 

“As we move forward, we expect to face greater challenges than we have so far. But we are prepared to face them head on. As we serve so many affected communities, ADRA will continue to carry out relief operations founded on the principle that we are stronger together—together with our partners and with the Adventist church. Our global offices, churches, ministries, schools, clinics and partners must work in step in order to address the massive impact of this pandemic to ensure that many more lives can be touched and saved,” says Mario Oliveira, director for emergency management at ADRA. 

Globally, more than 55 million people have contracted coronavirus and more than 1.3 million individuals have died, with the United States ranking as number one worldwide with more than 11 million confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (*Numbers subject to change daily). Donations to assist with the COVID-19 disaster response are urgently needed at

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The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The world church is governed by a General Conference with smaller regions administered by divisions, union conferences, and local conferences. It currently has a worldwide baptized membership of over 20 million people, and 25 million adherents. Learn more at


The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended. For more information, visit

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About ADRA

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended.

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