For isolated communities in Ecuador, the coronavirus situation is difficult to cope with. In addition to the lack of disinfectant and masks to protect themselves, the main problem is that their local products are no longer being marketed. Without sales, they have no income to buy basic necessities. This peasant woman from the province of Tungurahua in the Ecuadorian Andes explains the situation in her community.
Solidarity makes us strong
Guinea-Bissau is a major cashew producer, exporting the nuts mainly to India. Due to the crisis the borders have now been closed and India has stopped its imports. Also the local traders cannot work as usual.
The warehouses of Guinea-Bissau are therefore filling up with cashew nuts that cannot be sold – rice, however, is becoming a scarce commodity. This is worrying, as cashew nuts are marketed during the dry season and are expected to bridge the gap until the next rice harvest. A large part of the money earned by farmers is used to buy rice.
SWISSAID Guinea-Bissau has therefore developed an emergency aid project for the population it supports in rural regions. In addition to disseminating information via local radio stations and supporting necessary prevention measures, the project provides food aid and seeds for local production. Rice in particular plays a major role in this. Our partners hope that in this way they can bridge the food shortages in these regions.
In Tanzania, operations in artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) areas continue, in what appears to be a normal mode, but is actually more a matter of survival. This is the result of the need for most miners to make ends meet, despite the risk of catching the virus. Ms. Rose Mashimba, owner of the John Masasi mines in Ibondo, Geita Rural, explains that “going to work is something we have to do. There is no question of stopping when we have families to feed.” The video, produced by the Foundation for the Development of ASM (FADEV), a partner of SWISSAID Tanzania, explains the challenges miners are facing, such as the falling price of gold or the lack of water resources.
SWISSAID is doing its utmost to support the people in these regions, not least through its Extractives project. Numerous activities are adapted to the situation and turned into awareness-raising and hygiene improvement activities.
In most places the small and marginal farmers have very little stock of essential goods. They do not have surplus food or cash which will enable them to tide over crises situations.
The government has announced distribution of food grains at subsidised rates and free food grains of 5 kg of rice per person and 1 kg of pulses per household. The distribution has started in the rural areas. The ration which was used to provide cooked meal in governmental schools is being distributed to the children. Nutritional food provided to pregnant and lactating women and children in the 0-6 year age group through the creche centres is now being provided as take away rations.
"Stay at home - without violence"
Colombia, Ecuador – Apr 24th | What the Corona crisis means for women, we have reported on in detail here. Isolation in particular is a high risk: domestic violence is on the increase. Our partner offices, especially in Latin America, are concerned about the situation. Especially since an end to the quarantine is not in sight. On the contrary: in some regions, measures are being tightened.
In order to raise awareness, SWISSAID Colombia and her partners launched a major awareness-raising campaign, in the regions of Chocó, Boyacá and Sucre. The title with the double prevention message: “Stay at home – without violence”.
But there is also hope: today, lively and open discussions are taking place in social networks. “We live in a special time. Information and education can help to put an end to abuse and violence”, says Fernando Zembrano, head of the SWISSAID office in Ecuador.
In Ecuador, while cities are no longer supplied everywhere, small farming families are becoming the essential suppliers for the population’s survival. A farming couple from the province of Chimboraz explains how, thanks to agroecology and SWISSAID, they now have food. If this crisis had occurred years ago, when they had to go to town to buy food because their land was not producing anything, they would have nothing to eat. Today, they lack oil, sugar, salt and soap. But for the rest, they are doing well.
Hygiene and sanitation remain key aspects in curbing the spread of coronavirus. In the mining areas of the Geita region of Tanzania, water has become the most sought-after commodity. Even in these remote and poor areas, hand washing has become an essential step in the fight against the virus, and a jerry can and soap is available in front of every house.
But water comes at a price. The mining communities supported by our projects recently bought 20 litres of water for 700 to 1000 Tzs (30 to 40 cts.). Fortunately, since then, the rains have started, and the cost of water has dropped to 300 Tzs. per 20 liters. However, having water at a low price is not everything. It still has to be drinkable. “You can’t trust the water harvested from the roofs of the structures here. We are mining and there is a lot of dust around. Therefore, we cannot trust the water. And even when we buy water from vendors, we cannot check the purity of the water we buy,” said Hamza Mtalingi, a resident of one of the villages.
SWISSAID Tanzania, which has been supporting these communities for many years, quickly adapted its projects to the situation. Many activities have been transformed into awareness-raising and hygiene improvement activities, in the hope of minimising the impact of the crisis in these very poor regions.
Dr. Shashikant Ahankari head of Halo Medical Foundation, SWISSAID partner which is active in Lohara and Tuljapur block of Osmanabad, district in Maharashtra, speaks about the situation of migrants who have come back in large numbers in his area. In rural areas, not only do they not find work, but there are also outcasted from the villages because people fear they bring with them the virus.
In Myanmar, civil society is primarily trying to slow down Covid-19 infections. The Uplands Township Fund (UTF) is working with civil society partners to help communities fight the pandemic. These local partners maintain close relationships with the communities and have been able to strengthen their activities on the ground. These include raising awareness of preventive measures and providing essential hygiene items. All activities are carried out in collaboration and coordination with local authorities and health services. The Uplands Township Fund is run by a collective consisting of SWISSAID and two other organisations and is supported by the Livelihood and Food Security Fund (LIFT).
In this photo, the WCN (Waingmaw CSO Network) is preparing to distribute soap in Waingmaw Province (Kachin State).
Not only in Switzerland is it a concern of the population that farmers can continue to sell their products at market stalls during the quarantine measures. The Ecuadorian town of Pelileo has agreed to convert a football pitch into a market for agro-ecological products. Floor markings and protective masks will be used to implement the government’s hygiene guidelines. Maria Paca tells us about the complicated journey she has to make to sell her agro-ecological products.
Empty streets, like everywhere else in the world. But here the consequences are all the more severe as the population has no social safety net or alternative income. Like this man, waiting in despair for the customers of his shop to come back.
In India, the lockdown – prolonged until the 3rd of May – led to stop all economic activities in the cities and villages. Normal life has come to a standstill. In villages standing crops could not be harvested, all daily wage labour work and NTFP collection essential for providing cash and sustaining families until the next harvest in October/ November were stopped. All markets are shut, migration which helps the poor in the villages meet their livelihood needs has been impacted with thousands returning home and others stuck in the destination points or on the way home. The vulnerable groups primarily wage labourers, the elderly, disabled, women headed households are facing the shortages even now. Small and marginal farmers will also soon run out of the harvested produce.
The government is reacting to the situation and has clarified that agriculture is an essential service and all activities related to it are allowed such as harvesting, marketing, transportation, warehousing and cold storage. Wage labour in rural employment guarantee is being restarted and NTFP collection is allowed. Subsidised as well free food grains are being distributed. But how the policy announcements will be implemented, whether they will be adequate and how soon the benefits announced for the poor (cash and subsidised food) will reach the target constituencies remains to be seen.
Covid-19 is spreading through Tanzania. The SWISSAID office had to take key measures in its programme to ensure the safety of staff, partners and supported persons. To date, all activities involving large social gatherings – conferences, trade fairs, workshops, community awareness raising – have been suspended, and productive activities that respect social distance have been stepped up – acquisition of value-added equipment, access to information and communication technology, home delivery of agricultural products. The elderly and other people most at risk are not participating. Staff and project partners provide training on the main prevention measures before any activity takes place. Handwashing stations are installed and official communication on coronavirus is posted at each project site.
Since about ten days Guinea-Bissau has imposed a general curfew, with the possibility of going out only between 7 and 11 a.m. for all inhabitants. Those who do not respect this rule are violently put back to order, which leads to fears of demonstrations by the people. As a result, everyone goes to the market for shopping at the same time, which contradicts other precautions broadcast on the radio and on posters, such as avoiding gatherings and keeping social distance.
Amadi Candé presents the situation as he returns from the market.
For Ecuador’s peasant communities, food is not a problem. They cultivate their fields, reap the fruits of their efforts, and have enough to eat. But this does not mean that they are not affected by the current global crisis. They can no longer sell their products in the cities, which have closed down. This means that they no longer have the income to buy other basic necessities. And the cities no longer have sufficient supplies. A vicious circle that this peasant woman wants to see ended as soon as possible.
With a small grant of 130 CHF from SWISSAID, our partner Myitkyina Lisu Baptist Association (MLBA) has been sharing information posters in remote ethnic Lisu communities in Kachin State that have difficult access to the internet and on-line information. The 1.5m x 1m posters produced by MLBA use the official advice from the Ministry of Health and Sports on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The posters are written in both Lisu language (left side) and Myanmar language (right side)
Adamou Moussa, head of the SWISSAID office in Niger, took a look at the market in the Dar Es Salam district of Niamey. Despite the night-time curfew, there are hardly any protective measures outside these hours: no masks, full shops and no compliance with the “social distancing” rules.
Washing your hands, good for health and peace
While the measures against coronavirus are the same all around the world, they do not have the same consequences everywhere. In Southern countries, where a majority of the population is poor, without access to drinking water or adequate sanitation, and with sometimes fragile government institutions, the current crisis is much more complex. It makes us realize that washing our hands saves lives, and not only in terms of health. Providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation promotes the stability that is essential to the countries of the South. You can read more about it here.
Since last week many restaurants and big shops in Yangon are staying closed to reduce the spread of the virus. Usually Yangon is crowded with lots of traffic and people but since last week, as shown on this video, we can see only a few people walking on the streets and many less cars were driving on the usually congested roads. Until April 20, it’s Thingyan New Year. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, measures have been tightened and the usual water festival rallies and events have been cancelled.
On 23rd March, the first official cases of COVID-19 were reported in Myanmar, and the total is 28 official cases. Leading by Ministry of Health and Sports, Myanmar people are trying to fight COVID-19 – through washing hands and other good hygiene practices, and staying at home and trying to reduce going outside as much as possible.
SWISSAID Tanzania Advisory Board member, Professor Ngowi from Mzumbe University, shares key insights on the outbreak of COVID-19 and its impact in Tanzania. In discussion with our Country representative Blaise Burnier, he specifically highlights the consequences on farmers, miners and women, whom our Country programme focuses on. Beside the monumental health risks caused by this highly contagious virus (even if the number of reported cases is still low in Tanzania), key agricultural value chains are disrupted, the mineral markets are nearly empty and women are particularly at risk.
The countries of the South are facing major challenges during the Corona crisis. Distancing standards not applicable, lack of incomes, lack of food.
The programme “Mitenand” on SRF, the Swiss television, has taken an interest in this and has followed SWISSAID and its staff in their efforts to tackle it, both in Switzerland and on the field.
Mongüa, Boyaca Department, Colombia. Like everywhere else, the virus and the associated containment measures have now reached even the most remote areas. In these areas, farming communities continue to produce food for the entire country. The difficulty is to sell the products because markets in the cities have been restricted. Farmers are facing this situation with courage and determination. The Corona crisis is not their first challenge and will certainly not be their last.
Raianatu Djalo lives in one of Bissau’s outlying neighbourhoods with her 3-year-old daughter Aulato. She is a cosmetics trader, and travels to Senegal and Gambia to get her products and then sell them in Guinea-Bissau. Since the beginning of Covid-19, and the government’s decree to close the borders, she has had to stop her activities, and therefore has no more income. For her, the situation is very difficult, “especially since nobody knows when everything will return to normal,” says Raianatu.
Even though she no longer has access to her products, and therefore no income, the most important thing for her is to get through this pandemic period as quickly as possible, in order to worry less about her daughter Aulato.
Usually, the city of Pune, in India, is like any other large Indian city; overcrowded, noisy, busy on every square metre, full of engines, horns and traffic. Currently, however, the city is empty and silent. This is the result of extremely strict containment measures for the virus. The population is cloistered in their homes, the whole country is at a standstill.
Farmers are particularly affected by the current global crisis. Hamisi Ally Swahele, a farmer in Tanzania, testifies on the impact of the crisis and the dependence of agriculture on the international market. Fluctuating prices and falling demand are among the main concerns.
The next growing seasons are likely to be affected.
The entire country is in mandatory preventive isolation. The measure will be in force until April 27. The informal economy that moves the country is paralysed and there is a perception of panic because they have stopped generating income. Meanwhile the government implements some subsidy measures, that aren’t enough to cover the most vulnerable population. Furthermore, many people of this population are not registered in the risk offices.
Abiding by government orders, SWISSAID staff are at home. Some in Bogotá and others in rural regions where they cannot move. The monitoring of partners is permanently being done by telephone. The farmers are preparing their soils for cultivation and some promoters still visit families on their farms to guide activities. Others take their vegetables to sell in the plaza applying self-care measures, supported by SWISSAID Colombia, which has drawn up a prevention manual distributed to all partners and shared on the internal WhatsApp group.
SW India partners are talking about their field situation due to lockdown in the wake of increasing cases of Covid 19 infections. Labour works have been affected. The household are getting food support from Government programme. Local markets are closed. Villagers are running out of hard cash. The lockdown has stalled the harvesting of current crops. Villagers are in need of edible oil, sugar, spices etc. Few families are working in their kitchen gardens. Any trainings and small gathering are not allowed.
The South needs our solidarity
Switzerland, Apr 9th | “The crisis occupies my mind and leaves little room for stagnation. It is boundless, even with social distance. On the day when we will have overcome it together, we will realize: there is still hope. And in the Gotthard tunnel heading south we will think: Covid-19 makes it clear to us that millions of people in the poor South need our solidarity.”
Markus Allemann, CEO of SWISSAID, speaks in today’s issue of the Solothurn newspaper about the challenges which the whole world is facing.
Olivier Ngardouel, Head of the SWISSAID office in Chad, explains the new government guidelines and the implications for SWISSAID projects:
“The police and security forces (gendarmerie, police, army) patrol the neighbourhoods all day to ensure that the instructions and regulations of the administrative and health authorities are observed. All this is done with the intention of slowing down the spread of the virus.
As shown on this video, everything is closed.
For four days, a curfew has been in force in the province of Ndjamena and surrounding areas from 19.00 in the evening until 6.00 in the morning. In this context, the activities of our local partners have largely come to a standstill, as gatherings of more than 50 people are now prohibited.
However, the SWISSAID Chad Coordination Office is working with its partners to integrate awareness raising and information about hygiene regulations into their work programme. This is being done in full compliance with effective campaigns and government instructions.”
Gradually, the health crisis could well turn into an economic crisis, harming far more people than the virus. Especially in the Southern countries, where people live in odd jobs, without a social safety net and in great food insecurity. Three of our partner countries have already reported soaring prices. Guinea-Bissau, Chad and Ecuador have seen the price of basic foodstuffs such as bread, tomatoes and eggs double or even triple in the past two weeks.
“If the price of bread rises, the weight of the bread decreases, this means that they reduce the flour, the bread is smaller but the price is higher”, comments Amadi Candé, Head of Monitoring at the SWISSAID Guinea-Bissau office. Often this price increase is achieved by the traders themselves, despite government directives not to raise prices.
The Ecuadorian national government and the National Emergency Operations Centre (COE) adapted their guidelines as the number of infections increased, to prevent the massive spread of Covid-19.
Vehicles are allowed to take turns, sorted by license plate number. Plates ending with the following numbers are allowed on the roads of Ecuador:
0: Mondays and Thursdays.
1, 2 and 3: Mondays and Fridays.
4, 5 and 6: Tuesday and Saturday.
7, 8 and 9: Wednesday and Sunday.
To do the shopping, one member per family can go to the supermarket or the pharmacy according to the last digits of their identity card: 1 and 2 on Mondays. 3 and 4 on Tuesday. And so on until Friday. On Saturday even numbers and on Sunday odd numbers can go to the supermarket.
The fight against the coronavirus must also and above all think of women. Pre-existing inequalities between men and women have an even greater impact in this emergency situation. Because 70% of women in the world work in the health or social sectors. Moreover, the risk of domestic violence, in all countries, increases with the quarantine. And finally, women mainly work in informal and precarious jobs.
LIFT, a foundation supporting the poorest people in Myanmar, presents a research on this subject by UNWOMEN and IASC (Inter-Agency Standing Committee).
To date, Chad has 9 cases that have tested positive to coronavirus. Olivier Ngardouel, head of the SWISSAID office in Chad, sheds light on the situation in the country:
“The government has set up the Health Surveillance and Security Unit to prevent and fight Covid-19. It has taken a number of measures that affect the daily lives of Chadians:
Markets, mosques and churches are closed. Public transport between towns is suspended and is regulated within towns. As a result, basic necessities have become scarce and prices have risen. In the few authorized points of sale, as in this video, 1kg of dried okra has risen from 750 to 2000 FCFA (from 1.20 to 3.20 CHF), 1kg of dried fish has risen from 4000 to 6000 FCFA.
With the closure of the markets and the shedding of stocks, families are living from day to day, which increases their vulnerability”.
Development aid in front of the virus
Switzerland – Apr 6th | The coronavirus also affects development cooperation, forcing many NGOs to change aid programmes in their partner countries. This is the case for SWISSAID, as the Foundation Director Markus Allemann explains in an interview with La Liberté:
“Some of our programmes will be interrupted for a few months. We are going to convert them, for example by focusing on preventive health and hygiene, supporting farmers who want to sow seeds in Nicaragua or ensuring food supply chains in Tanzania.” Read the full article here (FR).
The health situation in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest and most populous city, is chaotic. The number of deaths due to Covid-19 is increasing and the evacuation of bodies is not keeping pace. In addition, no analysis is done on the cause of death, and morgues do not accept bodies for fear of the virus. As a result, families wait in vain for the authorities to come and remove the bodies of the deceased in their own homes. Families also suffer from not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones in a dignified manner and give them the burial that is usually carried out.
The government has assured that it is doing its utmost to collect the bodies of all the deceased and has stated that it will arrange for the burial of all those who died of coronavirus. Last week, 310 bodies had been collected according to the national police. But for the moment it is not known how many deaths they are in Guayaquil, and how many due to the coronavirus. More infos (SP).
Much more than an ordeal, containment can be a danger for some people, especially women. In Colombia, numbers given by the Nation media has shown an escalation of 51% of cases of violence against women, in contrast with the same date in 2019.
SWISSAID Colombia has implemented an immediate supporting plan along this quarantine: the circulation of the material with the care routes within the rural communities. Virtual monitoring such as phone calls to women. Additionally, adult as well as young men in the rural communities from several towns in Sucre a north Colombian Department; teach by actions of no-violence against women.
In the same way this COVID-19 tragedy has sprang expressions and initiative of solidarity and aid to the vulnerable populations; also it demands imperative changes, commitments, from those “violent ones”.
More on the consequences of Covid-19 on women here.
In Guinea-Bissau, the curfew is causing the population great concern. For example, it is not clear how to get food in the future. After all, all shops have closed. Mamadou Saliu Nanque, a resident of Bissau, explains the difficulties he is now facing. Despite everything, he demands that the government’s instructions be followed.
The members of the “plataforma de juventud” (youth platform) in the region of Sucre, Colombia, use the technological means at their disposal to stay informed during the curfew and to get politically involved. In this way, the young people from 11 of the 26 municipalities in the Sucre region have succeeded in having their proposals for the development of the municipalities approved by the members of the councils for land use planning.
Their initiatives include the creation of an economic fund for young entrepreneurs, a reduced-price transport pass for students who have to travel daily from rural communities to the city centre, and the creation of health services adapted to the needs of young people.
What can we learn from the coronavirus?
Apr 2nd | The corona pandemic raises fundamental questions, including that of our current food system, which is globalized and not very respectful of other living species on the planet.
Covid-19 is a global disaster. But perhaps it is also a lesson for everyone, especially policy makers, and a step towards a more localized and sustainable agro-ecological food system.
Blaise Burnier, office manager in Tanzania, comments on developments in the East African country:
“We at SWISSAID Tanzania keep ourselves constantly informed about the development of the pandemic in the country and the government’s prevention measures. We are constantly analysing the risks for our employees, partners and beneficiaries and determining what reactions need to be made in a constantly changing environment. We also assess which of our program activities need to be suspended, modified, strengthened or cancelled. To this end, our Management Committee communicates closely with our employees and partners. We work closely with a broad network of international and national NGOs active in Tanzania, and we follow the recommendations of the government and specialized agencies such as the World Health Organization.”
After the announcement of the curfew last Wednesday (March 25th), everything stands still in India. In response, a large part of the poor population is returning to their villages, sometimes on foot for hundreds of kilometres, as public transport is no longer operating.
In many places where SWISSAID is active with projects, the villagers have erected barricades to lock themselves in and prevent sick people from coming into the villages from outside.
Following the announcement of the first confirmed case of Covid-19 on 16 March and the subsequent TV address by the President on 22 March, tensions rose in Tanzania. All schools were closed for 30 days, major demonstrations and rallies were banned until further notice and crowds are strongly discouraged. In addition, all people arriving from severely affected countries will be placed under a 14-day quarantine.
Information about the corona virus dominates all news and social media. People are very worried about the health risks; after all, the country’s health system is only partially developed. However, people are also very worried about the impact of this pandemic on the economy. In a country where a large part of the population lives on daily wages, strict social distancing and containment measures could have disastrous consequences, even though crucial sectors such as tourism have already almost come to a standstill.
The Saturday market in Solothurn (Switzerland) has been suspended for two weeks. Nevertheless, individual market stalls sell their vegetables at different locations, and always keep a safe distance. This organic farm is particularly consistent: the commandments of distance and hygiene are imaginatively observed.
Will the seed be sown in Nicaragua in time?
Nicaragua, Mar 30th | April is a very important month for the rural population of Nicaragua. It is the time when the farmers prepare their equipment, seeds and other resources needed for sowing crops in May (during the rainy season). The survival of thousands of small farming families depends on these seeds.
SWISSAID Nicaragua and its partners are committed to ensuring that these activities can be carried out in the communities supported. The survival of the poorest people depends on this.
Oscar Quillupangui, co-head of the SWISSAID office in Ecuador, comments on his country’s financial situation:
“The initial effects of Covid-19 in Ecuador confirm that the public health system is not prepared for the pandemic. Hospitals lack equipment – they urgently need to receive more equipment. Instead of investing in the health system, the Ecuadorian government has now spent 325 million dollars to pay for government bonds. This with the intention of obtaining further loans.
While the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have confirmed that they will be able to provide large sums of money in the coming weeks, citizens do not understand why, at a time of global crisis, these major financial institutions are imposing conditions on countries for access to resources in the form of loans. It seems that lending in the Covid-19 era is a good business.”
“Niamey, March 24, 2020, 7pm, time of the Maghrib prayer, prayer at sunset. Having left the office at 6:30 pm, I took my usual way back home. I was surprised to see people huddled together in the different mosques of the neighborhood, as usual, and as if nothing had happened! However, only a week earlier, the government had met with the leaders of the two main religions in Niger – Islam and Christianity – to help them raise awareness of the risks associated with collective prayers. It was a lost cause!! Some people in the population continue not to observe this simple rule of prudence.”
Despite the first case in Niger (see below), Adamou Moussa Abba, head of the SWISSAID office in Niger, fears that the population is not yet aware of the urgency of the situation.
SWISSAID and four other Colombian organisations have supported the production of an awareness video against the spread of the cornavirus. As everywhere else in the world, it is important to wash your hands regularly, stay at home and wear a mask. Young people are now taking action to spread this information.
It is very difficult to change the habits of the population – this can also be seen in Guinea-Bissau. Despite the many prevention messages broadcast on the radio, a large part of everyday life still takes place on the streets.
The government has ordered the closure of most shops, markets, small street vendors and some pharmacies. Since this morning, exits are allowed between 7 and 11 am and taxis and public transport stopped. In one of the poorest countries in the world, women are now very afraid that they will soon no longer be able to feed their children.
Women, first victimes of the crisis
India, March 26th | “The situation of single women, women headed families, daily wage earner women must have become bad and if the lock down continues, it will be worst.” The words of Sneha Giridhari, gender specialist in India, testify the worldwide crisis hitting women particularly hard.
More information on the inequalities between women and men during the Corona crisis can be found here.
In Ecuador, the government declared a state of emergency on 16 March. As a result, the mobility of the population was restricted and all types of social and economic activities were suspended, with the exception of the health and food sectors. Since then, confirmed positive corona cases have increased by 139 percent (from 451 to 1082). In addition, there have already been 27 deaths in the first week.
Oscar Quillupangui, co-head of the office in Ecuador, discusses the restrictions and their consequences:
“The state of emergency limits the income of the most vulnerable people. This hits farmers and indigenous women particularly hard. In addition, state aid and health services hardly reach these population groups. Nevertheless, agroecology, like chemical-free food production, has been able to arouse the interest of the urban population. After all, a strengthened immune system is better able to cope with viruses like Covid-19.
At the agro-ecological market in the village of Pelileo (Tungurahua Province), healthy food is offered once a week, in compliance with the measures. SWISSAID has supported 80 women so that they can continue to sell products and thus suffer less loss of income. The female farmers have committed themselves to maintaining the same prices and quantities as usual – in contrast to the rest of the country, where speculation about food prices is on the rise.”
“We are in touch with our partner and are preparing a contingency plan, so that we can respond if there is a need. We are hoping and praying that the situation does not become very bad.” The quote from Kavita Ghandi, head of the SWISSAID office in India, shows the major challenges the country has to deal with. Many parts of the country, including the state of Maharashtra, where SWISSAID runs many projects, are becoming isolated, with catastrophic consequences for the population.
In Chad, the SWISSAID coordination office has installed hand washing facilities for personal hygiene. A sprayer (left) is also available so that the toilets can be disinfected before use. These additional hygiene measures aim to break the transmission chain of the coronavirus.
Claudia López, the mayor of Bogotá, had last week decreed that from Friday to Monday all inhabitants (that is almost 8 million people) should stay at home for practice purposes in order to prepare for a possible emergency.
Walquiria Perez, head of the SWISSAID Colombia office, explains:
“On the first day of the ordered quarantine exercise, the otherwise bustling city resembled a ghost town on Friday. The people reacted in solidarity to the measure to prepare for the corona virus, stayed in their homes and began to cultivate relationships virtually and work in the home office.
While these measures are necessary and effective, it is important to offer timely solutions to families living hand-to-mouth. In these times of crisis we must show solidarity and I hope that there will be no hoarding in the grocery stores and no food speculation.
It is important to recognise that it is the farming families who provide us with food. This is an extraordinary opportunity to ask our government to encourage small farmers, alternative food chains and rural production.”
It's quiet in Niamey these days
Niger, March 20th | Adamou Moussa Abba, head of the SWISSAID Niger office: “It is quiet in Niamey at the moment, but there is a lot of fake news circulating in the social media. Yesterday, the first Corona case became known in Niger: a young trainee from a transport company who brought the virus from a trip to Niger. According to the Ministry of Health it is in quarantine.”