Photo: Khadija Farah for Action Against Hunger, Somalia
Countries across Eastern Africa brace for the worst after years of drought, floods, locusts, and conflict.
Action Against Hunger has launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support its lifesaving work in more than 45 countries, including fragile parts of East Africa that are already dealing with the impact of years of drought, flooding, unprecedented swarms of locusts and, in some places, armed conflict.
With the number of confirmed cases rising each day, Action Against Hunger is deeply concerned about the effect that COVID-19 will have on those already suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Globally, 821 million people are undernourished, and 50 million among them are children. Undernutrition significantly weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight off and recover from infections and diseases.
As the pandemic spreads, we are particularly alarmed at the prospect of a COVID-19 outbreak in areas where social distancing is impossible, such as crowded city neighborhoods and refugee camps, and where access to healthcare and health facilities is hours away, in remote areas of South Sudan, Kenya, Afghanistan or Guatemala, for example. Many public health measures to stop the spread of diseases, including the promotion of handwashing and other hygiene practices, are significantly hindered by lack of access to clean water and soap.
“Health systems in the areas where we work have made impressive strides in recent years, but they remain extremely fragile. COVID-19 could push us to a breaking point,” says Ahmed Khalif, Somalia Country Director for Action Against Hunger. “This crisis is a true test for humanitarians and what we stand for: it doesn’t give us the luxury of time to prepare and we must face it with what we have. For millions, that means no water, no soap, poor nutrition, poor shelter, and limited health care.”
To stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, our teams are working around the clock. We’re partnering with governments to set up COVID-19 quarantine facilities, rushing to procure medical supplies and equipment, strengthening the capacity of our staff and others, all while continuing to deliver lifesaving nutrition, food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene programs. We are also educating people about the novel coronavirus and how to stop its spread via text messages, local radio stations, and community outreach. Funding is urgently needed to scale up this work to meet growing demands.
Help us scale up to stop the spread and save lives.