UK-based Catholic Agency Supporting South Sudanese Organizations’ COVID-19 Response

Logo of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
Credit: CAFOD

The humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is supporting local organizations in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, in their response to COVID-19 crisis, an official of the UK-based organization in South Sudan has said.

“We are supporting local organizations who have on-the-ground expertise to tackle coronavirus and help more families survive,” CAFOD’s Country Representative in South Sudan, Ibrahim Njuguna has been quoted as saying Tuesday, May 26.

He added, “We are working together to deliver vital hygiene messages via radio, and even via megaphones in hard-to-reach areas. Community groups are translating these messages into local languages so that they can be heard and understood by as many people as possible.”

Amid global concerns over increased cases of gender-based violence during COVID-19 confinement, the country representative has noted that his agency is  also working with women’s groups “to protect wives, mothers and girlfriends from the risk of domestic violence.”

“Not having enough food, or clean water to wash your hands, makes the coronavirus a devastating threat to families in South Sudan,” Mr. Njuguna further said.

South Sudan recorded the first COVID-19 case on April 5. As of May 27, the country had 806 confirmed cases of the virus, eight related deaths, and six recoveries.

The government has put in place measures to curb the spread of the pandemic among them the establishment of a high-level COVID-19 taskforce, enforcement of a night-time curfew, reduction of business hours, and social distancing.

According to the Juba-based CAFOD official, the restrictions are not effective among the people in poor communities that his agency works with since “families are challenged by the need to continue working to either grow crops or earn money so they can eat, despite the risks of coronavirus.”

“This is against the backdrop of a fragile healthcare system that doesn’t cover all people and areas. Clinics and other healthcare providers are at real risk of being completely overwhelmed,” Mr. Njuguna added.

South Sudan continues to face considerable challenges in the fight against COVID-19 amid lack of sufficient resources in health facilities with medical professionals often using improvised COVID-19 protective gear.

Nonetheless, through partnerships with local organizations such as the diocesan community-based Catholic radio stations in South Sudan, CAFOD is contributing to the much-needed awareness about COVID-19, an initiative that improves livelihoods and saves lives.

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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
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