, 29 July, 2020 / 10:15 PM
The overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Trocaire, is among Ireland’s “three largest humanitarian agencies” that have come together to address COVID-19 challenges in Sierra Leone.
The partnership that also involves Concern Worldwide and GOAL, international humanitarian agencies alleviating suffering of the world’s poorest people, will implement a €1.5 million (US$1.7million) COVID-19 response plan targeting at least 400,000 people in the West African country.
“In a country with an already fragile health system, the three agencies will work together to mitigate the impact of the virus on the country’s most vulnerable communities,” the leadership of Trocaire has announced in a report published Wednesday, July 29 referencing Sierra Leone.
The West African nation has reported at least 1,796 COVID-19 cases, 1,336 recoveries and 66 deaths.
Sponsored by the European Union (EU) and the international development aid program of the Irish government, Irish Aid, the response plan dubbed, “Team Europe” will be delivered through two programs across 11 of Sierra Leone’s 16 districts, with support of local partners.
The first program to be spearheaded by Concern Worldwide is expected to target both rural and urban communities in Sierra Leone, focusing on the immediate and long-term impact of COVID-19 on the people of God, Trocaire officials say in the July 29 report.
According to the leadership of the 47-year-old Catholic aid agency, among the initiatives that will be undertaken by the teams implementing the first program include information and training in infection, prevention and control; provision of hand-washing materials; and support of government’s COVID-19 communications and messaging strategies.
The teams will also provide assistance to households in quarantine and strengthen community care centers dealing with asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19, the leadership of Trocaire adds.
To cushion vulnerable communities affected by the long-term impact of the coronavirus, the teams will offer support in form of “food security, livelihood protection interventions as well as tackling increasing levels of gender-based violence.”
The program is also expected to address emergency situations should they occur, such as seasonal flash flooding.
The second program, which will be implemented under the auspices of Trócaire with EU funding “will deliver much needed hygiene items such as soap and water to communities at risk, as well as providing support to people in quarantine.”
“All three Irish agencies have extensive experience responding to global emergencies and their experience in tackling Ebola has been particularly beneficial in responding to COVID-19,” the Irish ambassador in Sierra Leone, Lesley Ní Bhriain said during the launch of the partnership in Sierra Leone Tuesday, July 28.
She added, “This is a bottom-up approach, which will have local organizations at its core, and empower communities to best protect themselves and prevent further spread of the coronavirus.”
The Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, Jamila El-Assaidi said the intervention is the “localized expression of the EU’s global commitment to help most vulnerable countries in Africa, and across the world.”
The partnership with Ireland, she added, “is proof of the EU’s utmost commitment to jointly move aid effectiveness from policy to practice.”
Representing the country’s President, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai noted that “Team Europe” initiative aims to “localize and transfer development to the people.”
The initiative, he added, “would contribute enormously to the government's response in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, especially at District level.”
Established in 1973, Trocaire has a dual mandate of supporting the most vulnerable people in the developing world while also raising awareness of injustice and global poverty in Ireland.
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