By Amy Asmussen
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, desolate media reports of the uncertainty and hardship that has affected 215 countries across the globe dominate our attention, becoming a dull roar that easily drowns out the positives: relief efforts, human connections, leaders, essential workers, and unsung heroes. It is critical that we uphold our civic duty to educate ourselves, to comply with recommended safety measures, and to assume an active role in the work still left to be done. We must uphold our civic duty so that we as a united human race may emerge from this pandemic clasping one another’s hand, proud to say that when we went into the darkness, we helped one another instead of hiding our faces while we waited for the dust to settle. We cannot wait for the dust to settle. We cannot stagnate and wait to count our losses. We must uphold our global responsibility so that we as one race and one entity may emerge scraped and bruised, yes, but with our humanity intact.
While it is important that each of us assume a personal responsibility in the outcome of this pandemic and that we remain aware of the work still left to be done, it is equally important to pause for a moment and reflect on the positive forces prevalent in this trying time. It is important to thank our doctors, nurses, service workers, and essential business. It is important to reach out to our friends and our neighbors, and once we have done that, to reach out across our borders, because we are not a nation isolated and unconcerned. Each of us has a global obligation to extend our helping hands past our immediate social sphere. Each of us has the potential to be the pair of helping hands that makes all the difference. At One Heart Africa, we believe in the incredible resiliency of the human race. We believe in educating, equipping and empowering. We believe there will always be a pair of helping hands, no matter how dark the horizon.
No matter how bleak the circumstance, there will always be a smiling face.
A Snapshot of Covid-19 in Africa
In order for us to direct our efforts to COVID-19 relief, we must first understand what life looks like in Africa amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While One Heart Africa’s efforts are largely focused in the southern countries of Mozambique and Eswatini, we must first look at the continent as a whole.
Due to weaknesses in Africa’s healthcare systems, Africa is at risk of becoming the next epicenter of the pandemic, according to an article by Marguerite Massinga Loembé, Akhona Tshangela, and Stephanie J. Salyer, published in Nature Medicine journal.
Take a look at this overview of reported COVID-19 cases in Africa, compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Note: The statistics we have cited were updated on August 18th. You can view the newest stats, updated every day with the previous day’s data, here.
- Total Confirmed Cases: 1,136,712
- Fatalities: 26,313
- Recoveries: 858,944
- Active Cases: 251,455
- Total Confirmed Cases Relative to Population: 0.0935%
Covid-19 in Eswatini
In Eswatini, where One Heart Africa is focusing its efforts on the maintenance of the well on site at Lubombo Valley Farms, the total number of confirmed cases is significant, and climbing.
- Total Confirmed Cases: 4,058
- Active Cases: 1,368
- Recoveries: 2,611
- Fatalities: 79
- Total Confirmed Cases Relative to Population: 0.371%
Covid-19 in Mozambique
In Mozambique, where One Heart Africa is running Sharing Hope Preschool among other clean-water and agricultural projects, the total number of confirmed cases is climbing.
- Total Confirmed Cases: 2,991
- Recoveries: 1,245
- Fatalities: 19
- Active Cases: 1,727
- Total Confirmed Case Relative to Population: 0.101%
According to the Nature Medicine Journal, the Centers for Disease Control in Africa activated its emergency operations center in January after receiving reports of increases in COVID-19 cases. Africa’s first wave of response focused on the quick and effective circulation of information about the virus across the continent. Weekly meetings with the CDC Regional Collaboration Centers were held in order to keep regions of the African Union (AU) up to date on all alerts regarding the virus. The Centers for Disease Control launched a live dashboard, still active today, to organize all incoming data shared across countries. Africa’s past response efforts to various disease outbreaks, such as the Ebola outbreak, which took place in 2014 and lasted until 2016, were swiftly adapted to COVID-19 to slow the spread. The AU adopted the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19, which outlines a detailed implementation plan for various health and safety measures. The Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 outlines two main objectives, which I have cited here:
1. Prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 infection in Member States.
2. Minimize social disruption and economic consequences of COVID-19 outbreaks.— Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19
Currently, Africa faces severe hardship due to the pandemic. Cases are rising, and the uneven distribution of medical commodities, such as face masks, hand sanitizers, and ventilators, is contributing to an accelerated spread of the virus as many are forced to go without protective means. Stress on the healthcare system has led to a restriction on non-COVID related care. In addition, 27 million people now face extreme poverty due to the economic drop. With limited access to resource, the test-trace-isolate-treat method, which was implemented to stop the spread, is difficult to carry out effectively and accurately.
On August 18th, the Mozambican Government announced its plan to resume economic and social activity in Mozambique. While safety precautions are still in place, including non-essential business closures, face covering requirements in any public place or gathering of people, and a strict quarantine requirement for any new arrival into the country, the Phase 1 reopening of the state has begun, with a resumption of higher education classes, classes in the schools of security and defense, education training classes, and medical training classes, as well as an increased participation in funeral or religious ceremonies to 50 people. For more information, visit this page for a detailed outline of these emergency measures.
In Eswatini, lockdown has been extended indefinitely. Required safety measures such the wearing of face-masks in public places and avoidance of large gathers are still in place. Border access is restricted, preventing visitors from entering the country, especially from high-risk countries. In addition to external travel bans, internal travel is restricted, which has greatly weakened the economy. Goods and services cannot reach the rural areas, and reduced hospitality and tourism income has impeded our ability to pay our workers and feed our communities.
We need YOUR help to provide relief to our communities, which have been severely affected by the spread of COVID-19.
What We’re Doing to Help
At One Heart Africa, our focus has shifted to relief efforts in both Eswatini and Mozambique. Despite the closure of Sharing Hope Preschool due to COVID-19, OHA is working to continue providing food to the students and their families. Due to our generous donors and student sponsors, our school staff is still receiving partial salary despite Sharing Hope Preschool’s closure.
Additionally, Lubombo Valley Farms is carrying out normal production, which is donated to the local community due to the lack of demand as the area continues to be affected by the rise in cases. Unfortunately, due to the decrease in income from hospitality and tourism venues, One Heart Africa’s clientele is reduced.
In response to this reduction and the strain COVID-19 has placed on our communities, One Heart Africa is launching a clean water campaign to raise funds to service two of our existing wells and to build a new one on site of the farm in Mozambique. Our goal is to raise $3,000 in donations to make this possible. A portion of these donations will also be used for relief from the virus wherever possible. This includes making sure the slaries of our staff working on our farms are paid in addition to the funding of our clean water projects.
Because of the restrictions on travel within the area, trade venues are not travelling to the rural areas. OHA is currently working to boost the economy in those areas by instating a Kombi service in order to shuttle goods and services to our communities.
While the situation is dire, there are helping hands tirelessly working to reduce the affects of COVID-19 in our communities.
We at One Heart Africa would like to thank our partners at Comfort For Africa, who have helped us feed the communities we work with, for their insurmountable efforts. We are striving to relieve the economic stress affecting our communities due to COVID-19. Our volunteers continue to work unfalteringly, whether it’s at a distance or locally in Mozambique and Eswatini, but we need YOUR help.
What YOU Can Do TO Help: Our Water Relief Campaign
OHA is launching a clean water campaign beginning this week. Help us meet our goal!
Goal: Raise $3,000 for COVID-19 relief and clean water projects.
1. Aid in COVID-19 relief efforts wherever possible
2. Service the well on site at Lubombo Valley Farms
3. Service the well on site at Sharing Hope Preschool
4. Build a new well on site at our farm in Mozambique
Click on the link to buy a shirt or donate to help us get water access and COVID-19 relief to our communities!
Stay posted for updates on our social media platforms!
- Johns Hopkins University CSSE https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
- Graph Compiled By Wits University and iThemba LABS
- COVID-19 in Africa: The Spread and Response by Massinga Loembé, M., Tshangela, and A., Salyer, published in the Nature Medicine Journal https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0961-x#citeas
- Africa CDC https://au.int/sites/default/files/documents/38264-doc-africa_joint_continental_strategy_for_covid-19_outbreak.pdf
- U.S. Embassy in Mozambique https://mz.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
- U.S. Embassy in Eswatini https://sz.usembassy.gov/