In March and April of 2020, Initiative for Equality (IfE) put out a call to our global network. We gathered experiences and recommendations from around the world on how to protect the poorest and most marginalized people from the coronavirus itself as well as from the negative consequences of policies and requirements implemented to prevent its spread. On 26 April we published a curated and well-documented Declaration based on these recommendations, entitled Pandemic Response Must Build Equality and Solidarity. This was co-signed by 138 organizations. See the Declaration here.  EN:   FR :

In May of 2020, two groups used IfE’s Pandemic Response to call on units of government to take a more effective approach that would protect human rights:

(1) In Kenya, one of our partner organizations – Hequeendo Compassionate Friends – was able to convince the Bungoma Chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce And Industry to launch an effort to advocate for the principles of protecting the poorest people as explained in the IfE Pandemic Response document. Working together with the Bungoma County Disaster Management Committee and the Kenya Red Cross Society, they were able to help poor families and flood victims within the county with basic food items and protections against COVID19. See the joint agreement here.

(2) In Nigeria, another member of our network – the National NGOs Alliance for Covid-19 Pandemic Response – submitted a request based on IfE’s Pandemic Response to Nigeria’s President, Senate, House of Representatives, all state Governors, and the Presidential Task Force on Covid -19 Pandemic. See the joint letter here.

In June of 2020, the Balaton Group awarded IfE a grant to allow 15 partner organizations to implement parts of IfE’s Pandemic Response in the form of public education and advocacy on behalf of very poor and marginalized communities. From a total of 66 applications, 13 groups were chosen in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 2 groups were chosen in Brazil. Materials were made available to help these organizations pursue a scientifically sound and socially appropriate approach; these materials can be seen here.

We are now putting together regional committees to plan effective advocacy for policies to protect the poorest and most marginalized communities during this difficult time.

Following are preliminary reports for each of the fifteen Pandemic Response projects, which are to be implemented by the end of October. Many of these were translated from their original language, or edited for clarity.  


Partners in IfE’s Pandemic Response: Preliminary Report from 15 Organizations

We thank the Balaton Group for their generosity in sharing their own funding for this important project! With their support, fifteen organizations in our network were able to reach some of the poorest communities in Africa and Brazil with essential information!


(1) BENIN: Sô-Ava, a lakeside village ear the city of Abomey-Calavi

Organization:  Kachoré           

Preliminary Report:  Members of Kachoré are working in this rural community of women artisans. The community is poor and precarious, very polluted, and lacks education on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Photos: none yet


(2) BRAZIL: several locations in the state of Maranhão, including Cerrado, Coast and Baixada Maranhense

Organization:  Conselho Indigenista Missionário – Regional Maranhão (CIMI Maranhão)

Women of Apãnjekra Kanela talking about the Ceremony of the Oranges. (Paulo Trygran)


Preliminary Report:  CIMI works with several indigenous peoples of Maranhão: Akroá-Gamella, Krenyê, Apãnjekra Canela, Memortumré Canela, Tremembé de Engenho, among others. The indigenous peoples of Maranhão suffer constant invasions in their territories by land grabbers, farmers, and loggers, and suffer various types of violence. The Akroá-Gamella and Tremembé de Engenho peoples, for example, have not yet had their territories demarcated, and thus their lives are threatened by land invaders. Here is a part of their report, translated from Portuguese:

“We are happy to write to inform you that your help has already been used and incorporated in the set of our actions developed with the peoples of Maranhão in these pandemic times.

“I make available to you two recent articles produced by our Communication service about our actions. The first one, called Invaders and Covid 19,  speaks of our support for local initiatives by peoples in an attempt to protect their communities from the virus. Available at:

“The second article, entitled Irregular Road Crosses Indigenous Land in Maranhão, was produced this week. It speaks of a people of the Jê culture, who live in the cerrado biome and who have a beautiful way of talking and making decisions: the patio. It is the Mermotmure Kanela people, who denounce this problem to Brazilian society in collaboration with CIMI, which monitors their processes for enforcing rights. Available at:

[Note that this “irregular” (un-authorized) road is the main way that the coronavirus reaches their community.]

“We are also happy to report that the Apãnjekra Kanela people, from the Porquinhos Indigenous Land, neighbors / relatives of the Mermotmure Kanela, and who share the same biome and territory to be demarcated, kinship relationships, cultures and internal organizational policies, received, at the beginning of September, help to develop traditional activities – educational and religious – in their territory. Through the leadership of Paulo Trygran Apãnjekra Kanela, our donations were made available to his people to support the Orange ceremony and other activities of care for the territory.

“For this ritual party, conducted by women and held annually, body ornaments (beads), freight to transport oranges and food aid were made available. Above all, to make beirubu, a traditional food that is shared by everyone. In Paulo’s words:

“… this party brings joy to the people, it is part of education, of learning. So that indigenous children do not lose references to this ritual. A feast of joy and intergenerational participation. The food donation was divided by families for the preparation of the log race, which was also run by the women. It is through running that we stretch our bodies, because we must not stand still that we get sick; to gain new energy and strength for our health. When the pandemic started to attack our people, we resorted to nature’s remedies and care for our village, keeping it clean. We appreciate all the help for our community. We continue to live with the goods that nature has given us, taking care that they never fail us. These rituals help us to live better, to live happily.”

“The donation received through your support made these cultural and political experiences possible among the Apãnjekra Kanela, and reinforced the bonds of solidarity required also in this moment of social distance, between CIMI, IfE and the Kanelas peoples. We are grateful for the support and trust.”


Leaders talk in the Patio of the Porquinhos village. These meetings are held daily. (Paulo Trygran)


(3) BRAZIL: Comunidade Nova Conquista, município de Lago Verde – Maranhão, região da Amazônia legal

Organization:  Associação Comunitária de Educação em Saúde e Agricultura (ACESA) [Community Association of Education in Health and Agriculture]

Preliminary Report:  Nova Conquista is a community in which ACESA operates, located in the municipality of Lago Verde, State of Maranhão, with difficulty accessing roads in terrible conditions. The families’ economy is based on the extraction of the babassu coconut, the production of vegetables and the raising of small animals. In terms of health, the community does not have a single clinic, and education faces a series of difficulties. Most of the houses are made of mud covered with babassu straw, and without basic sanitation.

The pandemic has directly affected the families monitored by ACESA, especially in Nova Conquista, as it has interfered in some important cycles for peasants (harvesting rice together, growing vegetables, raising animals, among others). Their income is gained by surplus production, and the situation of the pandemic has hampered this process, causing food and nutrition insecurity, especially for children. Another relevant factor is that in this community, has recently identified a high rate of child sexual exploitation, so we need to think about actions to protect children, and how to report this type of rights violation.

Photos:  none yet


(4) BURUNDI: Gatumba, about 10 km outside the city of Bujumbura.

Organization:  Association Communautaire pour la Promotion et Protection des Droits de l’Homme (ACPDH)

Covid-19 awareness day at Gatumba IDP Camp


Preliminary Report:  

  1. Presentation of ACPDH organization:

ACPDH’s activities are centered on human rights that include child protection, gender based violence, monitoring rights, protect rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees, etc. Our recent activities are in Gatumba, a camp of displaced persons who are victims of the flooding in April and May of 2020. Up to 60,000 households were forced to flee their homes, and many homes were demolished by the floods. Currently, the ACPDH team is actively engaged to protect affected people where more 10,000 people from 2 camps/ sites are under ACPDH coordination and monitoring humanitarian programme. Among the activities is our Covid Rights Monitoring and awareness raising campaign to help people to be informed on the pandemic in the camps.

  1. Mini Grant Project activities

Through our Covid Rights Monitoring and Awareness raising Campaign with the mini grant from IfE, we have been able to bring information regarding the pandemic to the IDPs communities, mostly to those in humanitarian need. ACPDH used a child peer-to-peer awareness-raising approach to sensitize them to be protected from Covid19 and child abuse during the pandemic.

We are collecting and disseminating Covid19 information and updates from the government and other reliable sources. We have also published news and updates regarding the pandemic situation in the country using government information. We continued monitoring the human rights violations related to Covid19, and followed up on how measures and policies put in place by the government are implemented. We have also been able to share updates from the government regarding the spread of the pandemic in Burundi by publishing and sharing the official figures on our social media (face book, Twitter, etc.).

We ensured that children, boys and girls, women and men are all protected, and we worked with local officials but also with the central government to be sure all are protected from human rights violations, including those related to the Covid19 pandemic.

  1. Covid 19 background & updates in Burundi

To date, 28,817 tests have been performed and 15 of the 18 provinces have reported positive cases, including 304 since the start of the screening campaign on July 6 by the Government of Burundi. Since January, the competent services have reported 1,132 cases of measles mainly in the province of Bujumbura Mairie, the Cishimere transit centre and 2 refugee camps in Ruyigi and Cankuzo provinces. As of September 2020, only 10 patients are reported by the government still to be covid19 affected (under treatment), and all are improving. That said, in September, 0 new cases of Covid19 affected in Burundi.

  1. Raised Challenges/Problems

The displaced people are facing economic and social challenge problems. As displaced people, they have lost all their means since April from flooding rains which affected this community of more than 100,000 residents, and many of them were displaced people from the political crisis that erupted in Burundi many years ago! Now, they are IDPs too. As IDPs, their income is non-existent and all of them are suffering from hunger, lack of shelter, water and sanitation, etc. There are insects and other animals (centipedes) which are attacking these IDP groups, and mostly children are at high risk of getting illnesses from these animals which affect their health. It’s very horrific and there is a need to intervene urgently to protect these people. They need to be supported and sensitized about prevention of Covid19, prevention from gender-based violence, human rights protection, etc.

IDP communities cannot meet required protective barriers (i.e. staying at home or maintaining social distancing) to prevent and protect themselves to Covid19 pandemic. Fortunately, Burundi government has not asked people to stay home, so they can go and search for their daily food, but with a high risk to be contaminated. Foremost, IDPs will have more problems with access to water and other sanitation and hygiene, even though the government has declared a 50% reduction in price of water and soap, because they are very poor.


Covid-19 awareness day at Gatumba IDP Camp


(5) BURUNDI: Commune of Buterere in the city of Bujumbura

Organization: Association des Jeunes Chrétiens en Afrique Centrale (AJECA)

Preliminary Report:  This commune is very deprived. Here is a list of the problems the poor communities face as they try to implement the protections needed to prevent spread of the virus:

  • difficulties in social distancing
  • the custom of eating together
  • difficulties in washing hands
  • customary ceremonies for dowry, marriage and mourning
  • no testing or screening for the virus
  • use of traditional medicines rather than modern medicines which cost money
  • the wearing of masks is non-existent
  • greetings by shaking hands or hugs
  • no enforcement of measures against the virus

Photos:  none yet


(6) BURUNDI: the indigenous Batwa community in the province of Muyinga

Organization:  Union des Peuples Autochtones pour le Reveil au Developpement (UPARED)

Hand-washing stations that were contributed to the community

Preliminary Report:  The Batwa community throughout Burundi is especially threatened by the pandemic, because their traditional lands have been taken from them, and their needs have been ignored by successive governments. They are victims of poverty, famine, lack of education and basic medical care, and of social isolation and exclusion from decision-making processes. The coronavirus pandemic could literally wipe out the Batwa population if nothing is done.

Their rights have been violated. The Batwa were driven from their natural environment without any compensation. Their culture is threatened, and is in the process of extinction. In the past, the Batwa could heal themselves using plants from the forest. Since being moved from their natural environment, they have started to get sick and they have no medical treatment. The death rate is very high among these people. Having neither land ownership, nor herds, and not maintaining any income-generating activity except pottery (which today no longer has a market due to the flooding of the local market by iron cooking utensils), the Batwa of Burundi are extremely miserable and left to fend for themselves.

Due to all of the above, the Batwa were never taken into account during the major epidemics that raged in Burundi. Today, as the entire world rallies to fight covid-19, no one is concerned about the fate of the Batwa in the face of this terrible pandemic that is shaking the whole world.

It is for these reasons that UPARED contributes to the mobilization, awareness and education of the Batwa people of Burundi, to help them prevent and fight against covid-19 by improving their hygiene and sanitation. UPARED’s activities focus on the area of Muyinga Province, which borders Tanzania, where the problems are greatest, and where the most vulnerable populations travel long distances and meet many people.

People returning home with their new items


(7) CAMEROON: Akum village, in Santa subdivision of NW Region, Cameroon

Organization:  Academic and Career Development Initiative Cameroon (ACADI)

Teaching mask-making

Preliminary Report:  After meeting with the traditional ruler of Akum, the Fon, some two weeks ago, we were able to get a chance to meet a highly motivated cohort of women, young girls and especially some men and young men who insisted to stand together in support of the women in this exercise.

Since two weeks the North West Region is on a lockdown, such that people barely have few hours only on Saturdays and Sundays to step outside their homes, as the rest of the week is closed and only the militias and the military can be heard exchanging gun shots periodically.

The COVID-19 Crisis has just worsened the situation of the millions of people in the two anglophone regions of this country already affected by the recent outbreak Anglophone crisis that began non-violently in 2016 and then transformed into an armed conflict from September 22 2017.

Notwithstanding, it is our joy being part of a relief campaign especially in these dark moments. The joy of being loved was expressed by the population in that locality. We felt motivated to return to that community for more action, as we will have means. Many persons are fleeing the anglophone regions to seek refuge elsewhere but the Akum people are principally a farming community. A majority of the men have fled for their lives from either being abducted for ransom by the militias or being persecuted by the military for being tolerant with separatists that are hiding in bushes in such communities. The women have to shoulder responsibilities of breadwinner and nurturing of the children. The forced closure of schools by the separatists and the recent education challenges posed by COVID-19 have further made life more difficult, especially for the young people in a community where access to electricity, media and information are notable problems.

Our team will be going back to Akum for a follow up of the  project, to see how the community groups that we established are functioning, and we will provide you with updates on progress made. 

We appreciate you and your entire team at IfE for the timely support. Let our partners and well-wishers be encouraged by the fact that their efforts are yielding remarkable results in improving wellbeing and dignity of our marginalized communities.

Everyone’s wearing masks!


(8) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Kahungu/Katana, Chefferie Kabare, Territory of Kabare, Province of Sud-Kivu

Organization:  Actions pour le Regroupement et l’Auto Promotion des Pygmées (ARAP)

Preliminary Report:  Our organization being Indigenous People (Pygmies), we work with the Pygmies who were almost completely forgotten in the actions to educate the Congolese population about the pandemic. They are very poor, having no farmlands. Some work in the fields of neighboring communities as day laborers, receiving a measure of flour or beans for payment; others make charcoal from wood, or serve as porters to carry heavy loads; yet others sell dead wood to neighboring families for cook-fires.

[Note: the term “Pygmy” is still in wide usage by these communities themselves in DRC, although it is considered a negative term by Westerners.]

Photos: none yet


(9) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Kabutonga, not far from Kalemie in the province of Tanganyika

Organization:  Association pour le Développement Intégré des Paysans et des Enfants dans le Tanganyika (ADIPET)

Holding the project banner


Preliminary Report:  The activity is being carried out in the Kabutonga village, inhabited mainly by Indigenous People (Pygmies). This community is unquestionably poor. They even ignore some basic personal hygiene habits like hand washing. They live on sharecropping, gathering wild plants, fishing in rivers during the dry season, and rudimentary agriculture. Note that being in a post-conflict context, a violent conflict that pitted them against the dominant society, many of them have just emerged from their hiding places in the bush or camps for internally displaced persons. As far as their accommodation is concerned, they continue to live in substandard dwellings (huts built from grass or branches).

Before the pandemic, these Batwa communities were faced with the multiple problems: 

  • The still-fragile cohabitation between communities that share the aftermath of conflicts;
  • Poverty or very low income;
  • Difficult access to health care;
  • Food insecurity;
  • Substandard housing;
  • Substandard clothing;
  • Discrimination and marginalization;
  • The low enrollment of children in school;
  • Illiteracy of young people, adults (men and women);
  • The land problem (grabbing of the 50 ha concession allocated to them by neighboring Bantu);
  • Police and military harassment;
  • The destruction of their small fields by stray cows;
  • The lack of sports equipment among young people.

Kabutonga is located on the road that leads to Kabimba, a small port on Lake Tanganyika 60 km from Kalemie. Since the taking of protective measures against Covid 19, there has been an illicit traffic in passengers from South Kivu (the province where Covid 19 cases are confirmed) to the Province of Tanganyika. Boats carrying passengers depart from South Kivu (the ports of Uvira or Baraka) and drop them off in Kabimba, from where they leave by motorbike taxis for Kalemie. And in Kabimba there are no appropriate devices to screen for suspected cases of Covid 19.

These passengers often stop at Kabutonga to stock up on wild fruits and yams sold by indigenous Pygmy women, or bananas displayed by Bantu women. When a motorcycle taxi stops, curious children or adults approach it without any precautions. Sometimes, following a motorcycle breakdown, the driver and his client spend the night in Kabutonga. As you can see, these contacts could be the basis of Covid 19 contamination. That is why educational activity within this community is essential.

[Note: the term “Pygmy” is still in wide usage by these communities themselves in DRC, although it is considered a negative term by Westerners.]

People with their new masks


(10) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Mbandaka, Équateur Province

Organization:  Union des Associations des Pygmées de Mbandaka (UAPM)

Preliminary Report:  At the same time that we must educate the Indigenous People about the pandemic, we are also confronted with an Ebola epidemic in this region. Already two Indigenous People have died from Ebola. As a result, we will be informing members of the indigenous community how to avoid the spread of both these two scourges.

[Note: the term “Pygmy” is still in wide usage by these communities themselves in DRC, although it is considered a negative term by Westerners.]

Photos:  none yet


(11) GABON: Bizango, in the city of Libreville

Organization:  Mouvement Populaire pour la Santé au Gabon (MPS GABON)


Handing out masks                                                 Handing out masks

Preliminary Report:  Bizango is a poorly-integrated district of Libreville where people live mainly from small businesses and where the housing is not very good. The main problems are access to water and electricity, and the difficulty of access to information. Among the difficulties that the community will encounter regarding the coronavirus, we can cite the following: Unavailability of funds to be able to buy or renew the stocks of kits (soaps, disinfectants, hydroalcoholic gels, masks, etc.) useful for washing hands and disinfecting zones or spaces; no local and permanent IEC (information, education and communication) activities on the part of the public authorities.

The consequences include: not enough information on Covid-19 (definition, modes of contamination and prevention, the measures to be taken in the event of contamination, the epidemiological situation of the country or region, etc.), and carelessness or disinterest of young people with regard to the pandemic.


The team                                                                   Handing out masks


(12) GHANA: Greater Accra region and in the Gamashie community and surrounding beaches

Organization:  Community and Family Aid Foundation (CAFAF)  

Preliminary Report:  The Gamashie community is situated within the heart of Accra, the capital city of Ghana, and is noted for having a vast stretch of beaches. The community is cosmopolitan in nature with daily commercial activities taking place such as fishing and trading. Increasingly, it is part of the 200 urban informal settlements that otherwise can be difficult to reach due to their dense nature, with 3 million people in Accra alone, out of the 5.5 million in the city. Inhabitants in these communities are daily wage laborers, bonded laborers, female head porters, and sex workers, among others. Such daily wage earners and single parents, who don’t have the luxury of working from home, are already struggling to survive. With this virus, we are seeing a real crisis ahead.

The housing situation coupled with the pandemic makes life unbearable. The large size of one household – over 60 people – is dangerous should there be further records of infection. It’s almost impossible to isolate or even to keep a social distance when you live with so many people in such close confines, but with your help we can work to reduce the impact.

Frequent water provision to facilitate proper hygiene observance and the protocols are rarely present. The women are finding it hard to earn their daily wage. The families are starving as there is no daily income. The children are cut off from learning and are unable to find food. The women live in caged rooms with no windows and running water.

The pandemic has changed the community inhabitants’ lives for the foreseeable future, but no one is more impacted than those who were already vulnerable: women, girls, and older adults, individuals experiencing homelessness, wage workers, and people experiencing unemployment. With your help, we can expand and conduct public education on how community members can best protect themselves, with water, sanitation, and hygiene programs to save more lives.

Let me highlight a few issues that have come up in my rounds and the project team here in Ghana. The issues raised included:

Social distancing

  1. Unable to keep distance, especially in GAMASHIE communities where one household houses over 70 people with limited rooms to sleep and a space to occupy. Therefore the issue of social distancing is even worse than before. You visit the market, events grounds and the number of people outnumber the stipulated limits.
  2. Again in poor communities children play with their friends with little respect for the issues of social distancing or staying at home. Currently our schools have still not opened and children will be expected to be in school hopefully come 2021.
  3. Families continue to visit each other because of the relationship and Africa culture, and so there is no way you meet someone and you do not exchange greetings without hugging each other or shaking hands.

Staying at home

  1. Currently there are no orders to stay at home being observed, because more of the restriction orders have been lifted.
  2. Staying at home really is not the issue at the moment.
  3. Those staying at home mostly are the elderly or those seriously ill and could hardly move around.
  4. I can confidently say that children who are not at or in school can be equally classified as stay at home because they have little movement to make or are confined to limited movement

Business of Vulnerable Women

  1. More women business and trades have been impacted  greatly
  2. Most women say, because the lockdown came unexpectedly with no warning; when it was pronounced, those selling perishable food stuff, their goods got rotten and could not be saved; hence, their initial investment has gone to waste and is being counted as lost.
  3. The government stimulus package intended to offer them support to get back to business is not forthcoming, hence, their lives hang in limbo.
  4. Government came out with all sort of promises including paying for free water, light, but those in such communities are not feeling it at all.
  5. Water and sanitation situation have worsened as there is no constant flow of water to enable poor communities have access to clean and flowing waters all the time or 24/7.
  6. Communities have to travel a long distance and the supposed free water is sold by neighbors who have taking advantage of the situation to cash in on innocent victims.
  7. Government social protection and support for vulnerable communities have not reached them.

Face Masks and Other PPE

  1. Currently here in Ghana the prices are down, yet the need to use it frequently and to keep people from infection is low
  2. Misuse is high, and the intended purpose keep going down
  3. Strict laws govern the use of masks and people are punished for not using it; though good, there are human right abuses to that effect as most of the law enforcement agencies have taken advantage to abuse people for not wearing a mask. The good news that such issues have received the necessary attention for reaction at all fronts.
  4. Here it’s expected that the mask is changed frequently – at least 3 times a day, which is on the higher side for most poor communities.

Other Social Issues

  1. Generally we are all learning more about the pandemic. The daily dose of news from the national  COVID-19 committee  and critical health sectors helps us to know what the situation is on the ground.
  2. Civil society actors and community-based foundations like ours efforts are yielding returns, and communities are now appreciating our efforts and contributions to this national cause.

Photos: none yet


(13) KENYA: Bungoma; Kanduyi and Bumula subcounties

Organization:  Hequeendo Compassionate Friends

The team

Preliminary Report:  The communities are comprised of poor rural peasant farmers staying along the Northern corridor road which passes the county to Malaba border of Uganda and Kenya. This communities rely on subsistence farming with no income and they are prone to floods. The housing condition is poor with many households staying in grass roofed houses and mud walls. We are proposing to work in this area because of the presence of long trucks which has stretched on this road to as far as 35 Km due to long processes of testing along the border of Kenya and Uganda. Most of the documented Covid cases are from the truck drivers; hence we have to come up with education and advocacy measures to support communities staying around the road from massive infections due to their daily interactions with the drivers who are staying along the road from two to five days before being cleared. Those areas should be declared as Covid-19 Hot spots.

Issues poor communities face in meeting required protective barriers (i.e. staying home or keeping social distance):

  • Poor people are likely to starve due to stay at home measures since they do not have enough income to sustain them long.
  • The measures have let to increase in nutrition deficiency cases especially among the children and elderly due to absence of a balanced diet.
  • Keeping social distance is against most traditional belief whereby family and community bond is strictly adhered to hence it has led to decay in cultural values and not easy to be implemented in the rural settings.
  • Witnessed high increase of prizes to farm input due to travel restrictions hence many poor farm households could not afford to get quality farm inputs which is a threat to food security.
  • Government restrictions on public gathering specially during burial has led to some communities exhuming bodies and reburying them later to accord the departed respect based on tradition hence risking the health of community members.
  • Small holder farmers have lost markets for their produce due to closure of open air markets for fear of arrests by policemen leading to loose of livelihoods especially among women.
  • Enforcing orders to wear masks in the rural communities has been difficult due to the fact that people know each other and believe they don’t have Covid -19 virus among them.
  • The government is completely unable to offer face masks to the local population and a few who can afford to buy them wear only when they are going to towns.
  • Stay at home measures and movement restrictions has led to break up of marriages and family bonding due to ban on inter town movements.
  • The working people who are family bread winners based in Cities like Nairobi and Mombasa and whom relatives rely on for support in money transfers to the rural are no longer supporting them leading to poverty and raising inter community theft,
  • Stay at home orders and closure of schools has led to increased teenage pregnancies with an average of documented cases of 5000 in the targeted county of Bungoma. Most cases among relatives.

Harsh enforcement of rules:

  • Constant harassment by police, especially of traders, has led to loss of livelihood by poor people. Their main interest is to secure bribes. Although officially in force, the police have made the curfew into a cash cow to enrich themselves by getting bribes from offenders.
  • Freedom of assembly is enforced discriminatively, with those supporting the government wing allowed to hold meetings freely, whereas those perceived to be on the opposition side are violently dispersed in the name of Covid19 prevention protocols and guidelines.

Successful collaboration with local government, disaster agencies and business interests:

Earlier in 2020, we successfully convinced the Bungoma Chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce And Industry to launch an effort to advocate for the principles of protecting the poorest people as explained in the IfE Pandemic Response document. Working together with the Bungoma County Disaster Management Committee and the Kenya Red Cross Society, we were able to help poor families and flood victims with basic food items and protections against COVID, within the county. See the joint agreement here.

Long lines as trucks wait, sometimes for days, to pass from Kenya into Uganda


(14) NIGERIA: 1. Alheri Special Village; 2. Gwagwalada slum community in Abuja, north central Nigeria

Organization:  Golden Change for Concerned Youth Forum (GCCYF)

Preliminary Report:  

1. Alheri Special Village is home to over 500 persons affected by leprosy, and their families. Named Leprosy Colony, it is in Yangoji community in the Kwali Area Council off the Gwagwalada-Lokoja road on the outskirts of the Nigeria’s national capital city of FCT Abuja, north-central Nigeria. The community was established by the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo after people with leprosy were evicted and relocated from Durumi District, a posh area now populated by wealthy individuals, with 90 apartments built by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in 2006. Since their relocation to the colony in 2006, they have been stigmatized and discriminated against, unable to access health, education, job opportunities or empowerment.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, over 3,500 people get infected with leprosy every year in Nigeria, and about 25% of them go on to develop physical disabilities. Discrimination against persons and communities affected by leprosy in Nigeria is very high, due to myths and superstitions associated with fear of the disease. This has resulted in exclusion. With all the adult population in Alheri community having one sort of deformity or the other, they are unable to undertake any defined job for a living due to severity of their deformities, discrimination, lack of skills and capacity. As a result, most of them are engaged in begging for alms for a living. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has gone from bad to worse.

Apart from missing fingers and other physical challenges, there are other sad features common to Alheri Special Village. Openly seen all over the community are traces of neglect, poverty and lack of basic amenities, with the stench of human sewage carelessly adorning the open fields. There is enough evidence that life in the colony hangs by a thread, ready to snap any time, with a high risk of outbreak of an epidemic. While they battle with physical deformities, they have no access to WASH facilities. In fact, there are only less than ten toilets and just one functional water source to cater to 600 people in the community. Also observed is a giant, empty overhead tank mounted to store water from a borehole. Sadly, water has been alien to the tank for many years. Inadequate WASH increases the risk of contracting neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy, soil-transmitted parasitic helminth infections, schistosomiasis, and trachoma – all of which are endemic across Nigeria – not to speak of the effect of Inadequate WASH availability on COVID-19, as one of the major preventive measures against COVID-19 is good hygiene practice.

2. The other community we are working with is Gwagwalada, a semi-urban slum community with most of its inhabitants being artisans living in slum/shanty houses. It is also the community where the first COVID-19 isolation center for FCT Abuja is located, at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH). With designation of the teaching hospital as the isolation center, even though the isolation center is different from the main wards in the hospitals, the hospital has been deserted by non-health care workers, especially patients or sick members of the community, for the fear of being infected with the virus. Most of these individuals now prefer to seek medical help from the primary health care centers within Gwagwalada community, thereby increasing the pressure on the primary health centers. Given the lack of WASH facilities in the community and at the primary health care center, there is higher possibility of the virus being spread if no hygiene promotional activities is conducted. It is also worth mentioning that misinformation and misconceptions have been spread on the coronavirus-19, especially in slum communities in Gwagwalada.

The FCT Abuja (along with Lagos) are the epicenters of the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, with those two states accounting for about 45% of the confirmed cases in the country.

Photos:  none yet


(15) SOUTH AFRICA: Ekurhuleni, in the informal settlements east of Johannesburg

Organization:  Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA)

Girls and women receive hygiene kits


Preliminary Report:  These are informal settlements, where most people work as domestic workers or informal traders (street vendors). There is a high level of unemployment, especially among youth. We managed to identify those families who are facing hunger, which is even worse during this Covid 19 pandemic. We saw their relief when we supplied them with a little bit of what we have. We still see more families in dire need of food. South Africa has the highest rates of coronavirus in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mealie meal and fresh vegetables provided to hungry families