It was only at the end of March that the first measures to control and contain the coronavirus were taken in Africa. Country by country it was decided that markets and shops would close, people would have to stay at home and wash their hands regularly. In a continent where 90% of jobs are informal and poverty levels are very high, this is not evident. How do you stay inside in a slum where each individual only has a few square meters of space? How do you wash your hands when water is scarce and soap is even scarcer? How do you spend the day when you live from selling vegetables at a market that is closed? The fact that there are no systems of unemployment benefits for the vast majority of people probably is no surprise either.
Our partners, trade unions, mutual health organisations, cooperatives and women's organisations, are preparing as well as possible for what is to come. At the moment it is all hands on deck to inform everyone about what they can do themselves to avoid infection. Mutual health organisations in Africa go to villages to give people explanations and concrete advice, they deliver soap to those who can't afford it and help hospitals to prepare themselves and to collect the necessary material for the COVID-19 infected patients who will probably arrive in large numbers in the coming period.
More news about the initiatives of our partners in Africa will be included in the next e-zine. Our regional WSM office in Benin, West Africa, already made the following video:
Today, some 2 billion people work in the informal economy; more than 1.6 billion of them are affected by the lockdown, particularly in terms of income.
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