The COVID-19 pandemic is both health and humanitarian crisis that continues to threaten the nutrition and food security of millions of people around the world, especially in Africa. In Liberia and other countries in the Mano River Union Basin of West Africa, millions of people were already suffering from hunger and malnutrition before the virus knockout. Today, the number of people facing acute hunger in the subregion may have doubled.
Fear and measures being put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus has pushed millions of people into severe hunger and fuelled acute poverty in Liberia. Many were already struggling before the outbreak and now need food assistance.
We do not have any money, and now we need to survive
As a result, many people are now going hungry and facing the prospect of starving. According to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the impact of the coronavirus pandemic could increase the number of people at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition from 17 million to 50 million people between June and August 2020. Besides, “food insecurity in West Africa could leave 43 million at risk as coronavirus hits”, United Nations news.
The current hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic, that have ensured interruption of the economic order. Some of these factors include the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth in the region, overseas workers not having earnings to send remittance back home, and ongoing problems like climate change, violence, population dislocations, and humanitarian disasters as a result of COVID – 19.
Screening procedures are put in place at all food distribution sites for all staff and beneficiaries. All VOSIEDA’s and partners staff and beneficiaries are screened by checking their temperature before entering any distribution site. Screening procedures also include proper sanitation and handwashing with soap and wearing a facemask. If the temperature reading is high (38 0C or higher) and the individual has no other COVID-19 symptoms, we may ask him or her to move to a shaded area and wait or ask health authorities for further assistance.
In Liberia, the national lockdown and social distancing measures are particularly drying up work and incomes and are likely to disrupt agricultural production, leaving millions of small-scale farmers worrying about how they will get enough to eat in the coming months. Consequently, the number of people that may be battling acute hunger and suffering from malnutrition would be on the rise undetected since the country also lacks data in this area.
Mobilizing for the impact of COVID-19 on food-security in Liberia
To minimize the impact of the epidemic on vulnerable populations in Liberia, VOSIEDA and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are teaming up with the Government of Liberia to provide food assistance to the most vulnerable families and households.
It may be recorded that in March 2020, the President of Liberia as head of Government announced that the government would distribute food as part of a stimulus package for underprivileged people amidst COVID 19 outbreak. Following three months of preparatory work with the Government of Liberia, the World Bank, the World Food Program, VOSIEDA, and other partners, the food distribution finally kicks off.
VOSIEDA in partnership with WFP is carrying the distribution in Monsterrado, Margibi, and Nimba Counties. The exercise would be extended to parts of the country. Other CSOs partners would be subcontracted by VOSIEDA to fast-tracked the food distribution process since many families are vulnerable and urgently need food and other assistance.
The process is transparent and smooth. Nevertheless, despite prior sensitization and communication awareness on preventive measures against Covid-19, beneficiaries were visibly surprised and seemed confused with the unusual atmosphere and arrangement at the food distribution site, in the first few days. Unlike previous distribution rounds, beneficiaries have their temperature checked and washed their hands before allowed into the waiting area where volunteers and staff ensured the sitting arrangement to maintain the recommended distance of six meters.
The ‘Volunteers for Sustainable Development in Africa (VOSIEDA)’ is a Liberian nonprofit and a network of volunteers working to promote prosperity, reduce extreme poverty, and strengthen peace and stability in Liberia and West Africa’s Mano River Union Basin region: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
The organization maintains its headquarters is in Monrovia, Liberia. She, however, works with partners in Guinea and Sierra Leone on different programs and projects. Its mission is to promote prosperity, reduce extreme poverty, and strengthen peace and stability. You may read more about the organization by visiting its website.
AGAINST ALL ODDS, VOSIEDA is working with partners to save and change lives in one of World’s most challenging humanitarian crisis of our time.
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COVID-19 Response Team / Programme