Caritas Senegal Redirects Climate Change Funds Towards COVID-19 Fight

Logo Caritas Senegal
Credit: Public Domain

The Catholic Church in Senegal through its charity arm, Caritas Senegal, has announced the interruption of a fundraising initiative launched in March to alleviate effects of climate change and asked for permission to redirect the funds collected towards the battle against COVID-19 in the west African country.

On March 7, Caritas Senegal launched the Senegal Emergency Fund (SEF), a national fundraising campaign, which aimed at helping vulnerable persons in crisis situations that the Bishops said arose from effects of climate change.

“There are many reasons for this campaign, including low rainfall, delayed rains, frequent rain breaks and flooding. These are all effects of climate change that we have to face,” the President of Caritas Senegal, Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye told journalists at a press briefing to launch the campaign.

In a press statement seen by ACI Africa, however, Secretary General of Caritas Senegal, Fr Alphonse Seck said that the charity arm of the church in the country had been forced to stop the campaign, owing to the directives that were issued by the government in the country that had made fundraising difficult.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently raging in the world and which has strongly shaken all sectors of our society, unfortunately forces us to interrupt, on Monday 04 May 2020, this fundraising campaign, which was initially intended to furnish mainly the communities and structures of the Church,” said Fr. Seck.

He added, “The measures enacted on public gatherings will not have allowed it (the fundraising).”

At the interruption of the fundraising, Caritas Senegal reported that it had collected CFA Franc. 10,327,500.00 ($17,000.00) within the SEF framework and that the amount “will be entirely devoted to the purchase of food for poor families.”

“The Catholic health structures involved in caring for the sick will also be supported by other resources mobilized with partners. The partners have already been asked to enable Caritas to extend its food security support action for the coming farming season,” Caritas Senegal Secretary General stated.

In the statement dated Monday, May 4, Caritas Senegal has informed the general public and institutions that it is still possible to continue to support the Senegal Emergency Fund with financial and material contributions to enable it to continue its work with “the most fragile people whose needs cannot wait.”

“Caritas Senegal, on behalf of the Bishops, expresses its satisfaction and thanks to all the people, structures and associations that have responded to their appeal and shown their generosity,” Fr. Seck stated and added, “Welcoming their spirit of solidarity, Caritas Senegal encourages the Senegalese people to continue to mobilize more, especially in these difficult moments of the Covid19 pandemic, in favour of the poorest among you.”

The Church’s charity arm says that even with the interruption of its fundraising initiative, it “remains mobilized and stands by the bedside of the most destitute, people in precarious situations and the elderly who are even more exposed to this virus.”

“It (Caritas Senegal) is determined to assist the most fragile and thus face the emergency of those who do not have the means to meet their basic needs in this context of a health crisis whose socio-economic impacts jeopardize the situation of many individuals and entire families,” Fr. Seck further stated.

Speaking on how Caritas works and its aid deployment process during the March fundraiser launch, the Secretary General of Caritas Senegal said the fund works on a need basis.

“When a crisis takes hold somewhere in Senegal and calls for action, the National Emergency Commission of Caritas Senegal assesses the seriousness of the situation and requests the agreement of the Archbishop of Dakar and the President Bishop of Caritas Senegal for an intervention using the resources of the emergency fund,” the Cleric said.

On Thursday, May 7, Senegal had recorded 1,433 COVID-19 infections, 12 related deaths and 493 recoveries from the disease.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]