The WOW organization has been staying close to women in East Africa and is concerned to find that the struggles in that part of the world might be going from bad to worse soon. Between the first locust attack on farmlands in many provinces, excessive rains and flooding that recently destroyed villages, and now quarantine for COVID-19 they have lost their crops and can’t work to get money for food that they need.
Quarantine in Africa means starvation for millions. Many buy food each day after they get paid for their day’s work. But, if the virus spreads the hospitals are in no way equipped to handle the pandemic. They are in a very bad situation. Prayer is the best option they’ve got.
COVID-19 Situation in East Africa
There are six countries making up the East Africa Community namely: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is a pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019. wikipedia.org.
With the known mode of transmission, many countries made decisions to confine their citizens for protection against COVID-19. The East African countries were equally affected. As it is now, Kenya is having the highest number of people infected with COVID-19 among the East African Countries. Kenya recorded its first case of the coronavirus outbreak on March 13, 2020. COVID-19 has changed the way Kenyans live, love and express that love; COVID-19 has shaped social behavior across the country. Today April 9, 2020, all the major newspapers had a similar heading “We are standing together with Kenyans”, media houses united on COVID-19 issue. By March 20th, all schools in Kenya had closed, shortly after that, there was curfew between 7:00pm to 5:00am. While the curfew was on, the President announced a lockdown of Nairobi Metropolitan Area on April 6th. We are all hopeful that these measures will help Kenyans avert contracting of COVID-19 in large number. A short while ago, the Minister for health has also announced that anybody walking out of their houses, must wear face masks. The Kenyan Government has allowed major tailoring institutions to produce large numbers of face masks made from cloth material. The masks can be washed and re used, the large numbers of masks will serve many Kenyans, some of the needy Kenyans will be given masks for free. So far, there are 184 people infected with COVID-19 in Kenya. (107 males and 77 females) 3 are below 15 years, 49 are between ages 15-29; 119 are between ages 30-59 and 13 are above 60 years.
Tanzania reported their first COVID-19 on March 16th, 2020 and currently they have 25 people infected. Tanzania, however, have their citizens go to work as normal without any restrictions, lockdowns or curfews. Burundi announced their first two COVID-19 cases on March 26th, currently they have 25 cases. Rwanda announced their first COVID-19 case on March 14th, 2020, currently there are 104 people infected by COVID-19 cases. The government of Rwanda has taken several measures to curb the spread of this pandemic including total lockdown for 21 days. South Sudan announced the first COVID-19 case today April 9, 2020. Uganda confirmed their first case of COVID-19 on March 21st and immediately implemented the measures to protect the citizens. Total lockdown is what Ugandans are going through. No work, no school and no business as usual.
What is common with all the cases in East Africa is that the majority of COVID-19 cases travelled from outside their countries. What is also common is that there are community infections going on within the mentioned countries after the first few cases were identified. Culturally, there are Africans who seal the business deal by shaking hands. This is common among the groups who sell livestock in the open local markets for a living. Due to COVID-19, some communities have innovatively started hitting the walking sticks as a sign of shaking hands in the process of agreeing on the price of the cattle to be sold. Many open markets have been closed, making it difficult for the small businesspeople to survive and creating a lot of outcry. Schools have also been closed. Families are spending a lot of time in the house which is a very unusual experience. It is emerging now that in some cases, there is increased gender violence in the homes.
More Trials Might Be Coming!
Jessica Corbett, who writes for Common Dreams reported on April 10, 2020. “While much of the world focuses on the coronavirus pandemic that has infected over 1.6 million people across the globe, East Africa is battling the worst invasion of desert locusts in decades—a monthslong “scourge of biblical proportions” that experts warn could get worse with a larger second wave already arriving in parts of the region.”
So many crops have already been lost to the first invasion of these locusts. Growers have reported to WOW that they are waiting for the second planting season of the year, which starts in about 6 weeks. Another invasion of locusts will make planting impossible again. It seems that food shortages will be imminent if crops fail. Additionally, vital sources of income will disappear with this next crisis.
WOW urges the world to pray each day, morning and night, for East Africa and for all those being sorely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a time when the world must band together in faith. We must share everything we can, but especially our faith.