Responding to the greatest needs
There is a major lack of clean, running ater in the communities where we work, so our partners have also been distributing hand-washing materials, as well as face masks.
Like the knock-on effects of Ebola, Coronavirus is going to have a huge impact on the ability of women and men to make an income and to provide for their families.
Movement and livelihoods are dramatically affected, with local markets now closed down in certain districts. We are supporting small farmers to ensure they can finish their planting in addition to protecting food security in households as the situation worsens.
In Kambia and various other local districts, groups of local women and men are making hand-washing materials, including buckets and soaps. This has an extra benefit as it potentially provides another small but important source of income.
Two of our local partners – Action of Advocacy and Development in Sierra Leone (AADSL) and the Kambia District Development Rehabilitation Organisation (KADDRO) – have vast experience from supporting communities during Ebola.
They were very quick to restart similar initiatives weeks before the first case of Coronavirus here. The importance of working with local Sierra Leonean organisations was emphasised during the Ebola crisis. Local organisations know their communities and they have strong links with the people there. This allows Trócaire and partners to have a better understanding of the needs of the communities.
Violence against women
The impact of the lockdown on women and girls and the possibility for an increase in violence in this situation is also a great concern.
Accessing psycho-social support can be difficult for people who have experienced violence, but our Irish Aid funding is helping to set up hotlines to provide such support remotely.
Another Trócaire partner runs an emergency phone line for people who require medical support after experiencing gender-based or domestic violence.
We can’t do this without your support
While we have responded quickly, there remains a real uncertainty and anxiety. How is COVID-19 going to impact on the economy and the ability of people to provide for their families? We can see the effects already, but that is only going to get worse.
I would like to thank our supporters back in Ireland as their generous donations ensure that we will be able to continue our response.
My friends and family back at home have told me wonderful stories of the support we have received so far. I find it very heartening, but not at all surprising, and I just want to say thank you.
Eimear Lynch is Trócaire’s Sierra Leone Programme Manager based in the capital Freetown.
Trócaire’s funding has been hit badly by the Coronavirus crisis. The people your donations support overseas are among the poorest and most marginalised people in the world.
This crisis affects us all. But together we will defeat it.
Please support our appeal so we can continue our work in places like Sierra Leone, Gaza and Myanmar.