Health educators in Mozambique teach communities about preventing COVID-19 through good hygiene.

Health educators in Mozambique teach communities about preventing COVID-19 through good hygiene. Keep reading below for more activities in Mozambique.

We are living in unprecedented times, and we are faced with a great challenge.

At Anglican Overseas Aid, we are acting and taking on this challenge in the communities where we work, helping them to prepare, prevent and lessen the impacts of COVID-19.

The virus has the potential to have a devastating impact in countries with poor health systems, and the people most heavily impacted by the health crises and lockdowns will be those without access to secure housing, regular income, food, water and sanitation.

We are responding by adapting our programs where possible to ensure that the communities we already work with have the support they need to get through this time. It is even more urgent that we ensure vulnerable people have access to information and are given the tools they need to create a better life.

Our local Anglican Church partners have a grassroots connection with their communities, which means that they are in the best position to prevent the spread of coronavirus through promoting good hygiene practices and distributing accurate health information.

We are also helping to lessen the secondary impacts of the lockdowns through distribution of essential supplies to the most vulnerable, helping families maintain livelihoods, and improving safety for women and children through support and connecting them to lifesaving services.

On this page you will find information about how we are responding to the individual needs of the areas we work in. We have been communicating and working closely with our partners to help them plan and deal with this threat.

Below is the latest information for each of our projects. These activities have been underway since March and will continue as the threat of COVID-19 and lockdowns persist (updated mid-July).

Kenya

The situation

With confirmed cases of COVID-19, Kenya put in place a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew from March 27, including stay-at-home orders for all except essential services. This has put incredible strain on small businesses who rely on daily trade to survive and don’t have the luxury of savings. Although July has seen steep increases in cases, the country is beginning a phased reopening.

The response

Our partner, the Anglican Church of Kenya, Mount Kenya West Diocese (ACK), is working in multiple ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, improving the lives of those most impacted by lockdowns, and supporting households with essential supplies.

ACK is playing an active role in educating the community on hygiene, prevention measures and facts on COVID-19 through training local volunteer community leaders (Nyumba Kumis) and Community Health Volunteers. ACK have engaged and trained 500 Nyumba Kumis with community health information, reaching 15,000 households in their 10 communities. These volunteers are creating awareness on how to prevent the spread of the virus and, at the same time, distributing items like soap and masks to the most vulnerable. So far re-usable masks have been distributed to 1,200 at-risk people.

Clergy have also been engaged and trained to communicate accurate COVID-19 health information, which has reached over 10,000 people through online church services.

882 vulnerable households, including those with disabilities and with elderly guardians, have been identified by community leaders and chiefs and are being assisted with food essentials, support to link with government services, and help with starting income generating activities within their homes.

With tensions running high, the leaders have also been equipped to report and deal sensitively with cases of women at risk of violence, referring them to help as needed, offering counselling and if necessary, help organising a safe space for them to stay.

With school suspended for more than three months, ACK has been working with communities to prioritise child protection, investigating and referring cases of teenage pregnancy to the Children’s Department. ACK has also been named the National Gender Commission’s referral point for gender-based violence in the two counties where they work (Nyeri and Laikipia).

This work is supported by the Australian Government and AOA supporters through the Australian NGO Co-operation Program.

Mozambique

The situation

Mozambique has confirmed cases of COVID-19, including in the Diocese of Nampula where our work is situated. The government has implemented restrictions on public gatherings and put in place social distancing measures. While this is not a complete lockdown, it has significant implications on people’s movements and livelihoods.

The response

Our partner in Mozambique, the Missionary Diocese of Nampula, has been working towards the goal of improving health knowledge in communities for a long time through the Equipas de Vida (or ‘Life Teams’) initiative. The Life Teams are groups of community-based volunteers who are trained to improve quality of life through health and hygiene messaging.

So respected is our partner and their Life Teams initiative, that the Government of Mozambique has recognised the Diocese and these teams as an essential service, and they are now a recognised part of Mozambique’s official COVID-19 prevention response.

2,770 Life Team members have been trained to deliver the life-saving health and hygiene COVID-19 prevention messaging door-to-door within the 98 vulnerable communities that they are a part of. They are using government approved materials translated from Portuguese into local languages across the Nampula and Cabo del Gado provinces. The door-to-door health education campaign has reached more than 47,000 people in these communities!

The Missionary Diocese of Nampula has also been distributing soap to the 50 most vulnerable families in each of the 98 communities (about 4,900 households), as well as teaching them about food storage and distributing vegetable seeds for home gardening to support social distancing.

This work is supported by the Australian Government and AOA supporters through the Australian NGO Co-operation Program.

Solomon Islands

The situation

Solomon Islands has no detected cases of COVID-19, however a State of Emergency is still in place and includes restrictions.

Additionally, the Solomon Islands has had to deal with the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Harold, which passed by as a Category 1 storm in early April, bringing with it wild weather. Heavy rains resulted in flooding, washing away crops in the country’s ‘food bowl’ and leaving concerns over food security.

On Thursday 2 April, 27 people died as they sought refuge from the threat of COVID-19 away from the capital, Honiara. They were on a ferry and were caught in rough seas caused by Cyclone Harold. 

The response

Our partner in the Solomon Islands, the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), is working to ensure that people have access to vital health and hygiene information and knowledge of social distancing.

Key educators in the provinces of Malaita, Isabel and Guadalcanal have been trained with this government approved health information, which has been translated to Solomon’s Pijin as they were previously only available in English. These educators, along with local government health officials, are training 60 community savings group leaders, who are then equipped to pass on messages and materials to their group members.

These messages have also included information about services and protection, disability and gender-based violence, ensuring that the most vulnerable in the communities have additional support where needed.

With many ongoing impacts on women and children because of the quarantine measures, such as school closures and loss of income, ACOM has been working closely with the government health and women’s departments, as well as counselling services and family support centres. This means that those who need additional support can quickly be referred to the help they need.

This work is supported by the Australian Government and AOA supporters through the Australian NGO Co-operation Program.

Vanuatu

The situation

At this time there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu, however a State of Emergency is still in place and includes restrictions.

Tropical Cyclone Harold, a Category 5 storm, hit Vanuatu on Monday 6 April, leaving a trail of destruction and complicating the COVID-19 response. Social distancing was impossible to maintain in evacuation centres, and with many services down, communication was near impossible. Lives were lost as a result of the cyclone.

The burden of recovering and rebuilding is difficult at the same time as ensuring the people are also safe from the threat of COVID-19.

The response

While complicated by Cyclone Harold, our partner, the Anglican Church of Melanesia, Vanuatu (ACOMV), is working to ensure communities are receiving correct and government-approved COVID-19 safety and prevention messaging.

ACOMV have developed a COVID-19 taskforce to ensure that people have knowledge of how to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Medical personnel have been engaged to demonstrate good health practices and education materials have been developed and printed to distribute. The team are promoting community awareness with door-to-door communication of key messages. Importantly, this has included clergy members to build trust in these messages within communities.

To work closely with the community on the issue of gender-based violence awareness and protection at this time of increased stress and isolation, ACOMV have also conducted Gender and Protection Assessments with 372 households as well as with 1,000 individuals (including men, women and children).

Up to 30 June 2020, this work was supported by the Australian Government and AOA supporters through the Australian NGO Co-operation Program.

Gaza

The situation

There have been a small though increasing number of cases reported in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This includes Gaza. According to the World Health Organisation, the OPT are at a very high risk and the Palestinian Ministry of Health is preparing for possible outbreaks.

The response

Our partner in Gaza, the Ahli Arab Hospital, is continuing its current activities as outlined on our website here. Some activities have been adjusted though to comply with physical distancing measures.

Emergency funds have been raised for the Ahli Arab Hospital priority areas, including any of medical equipment and supplies, medication, protective gear, and hygiene and sanitation materials.

This work is supported by the Australian Government and AOA supporters through the Australian NGO Co-operation Program.

East Jerusalem

The situation

There have been a small number of active cases reported in East Jerusalem. Our partner in East Jerusalem, the Spafford Children’s Center (SCC), has been closed for much of the pandemic, however it has continued, where possible, to remotely provide remedial education, therapeutic services and psychosocial support services to children, youth, parents and women. 

The response

The Center reopened on 1 June. It aims to continue providing the most vulnerable children (aged 4-13 years) with the essential remedial education they need (Arabic, mathematics and English) as well as therapeutic courses such as speech and occupational therapy. This is particularly important given that schools were closed for more than two months. 

The Center is also resuming psychosocial counselling sessions aimed at parents to help them learn the best ways to support their children as society begins to open up again.

This work is funded by AOA supporters.

Ethiopia

The situation

Ethiopia reports confirmed cases of COVID-19, all coming in from outside of the country into Addis Ababa, and confirmed cases were found in Nazareth, a town on route to the Afar region. The Afar region is suffering from the impact of COVID-19; travel is restricted and twice as expensive, making the sale of livestock near impossible, and the market price of food has soared, worsening mother and child malnutrition.

The response

Through ADPA (Afar Pastoralist Development Association), work on the dam rehabilitation project is continuing according to plan. The Afar community radio station is being used to promote messaging about hygiene and sanitation. COVID-19 prevention messages are also being integrated in ongoing gender work to address harmful traditional practices and allow women to speak about their challenges and difficulties through community discussions. These discussions also allow women to highlight how the pandemic is impacting their lives.

This work is funded by AOA supporters.

South Africa

On 30 June 2020, our program in South Africa with the Department of Social Responsibility (DSR), Diocese of Grahamstown, came to a close. The program activities have shown significant change and success over the years and the Diocese is capably sustaining the benefits of this long-term work.

From the COVID-19 outbreak AOA supported DSR in the redirection of their activities to addressing the challenge of COVID-19 within their project communities. South Africa experienced significant lockdown restrictions and escalating cases during this time.

These activities included the Permaculture Network, which has been assisting people to be more food self-sufficient through growing their own food and storing it effectively, and helping families create an income from herbal soaps, oils and vinegars. In addition, the Safe Persons Network has been supporting vulnerable households to access services, including family violence services and food assistance.

This work was supported by the Australian Government and AOA supporters through the Australian NGO Co-operation Program.

Our other country programs

Our project in India has been suspended due to government restrictions, distancing measures and lockdown. We hope and pray that they will be able to recommence their work very soon.

 

You can help communities struggling to deal with COVID-19 by donating to ‘Communities Overcoming COVID-19’.

Click on the ‘Please Donate’ button (choose ’01. COVID-19 – Communities Overcoming’ from the ‘Donation’ drop-down menu:

Keep an eye also on our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates, articles and stories on how the communities you support are faring at this difficult time for us all.