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How UK-based Catholic Aid Agency is Supporting Fight against COVID-19 in Africa

Credit: Public Domain

The leadership of the development and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has, in a report, outlined its efforts in supporting the fight against COVID-19 in African countries.

“Health and prevention advice are also being shared when our staff and volunteers are giving out soap and emergency food packages to vulnerable families in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya, to ensure that those at particular risk of the virus can survive this crisis,” CAFOD officials says in the report issued Thursday, May 6.

They note that “lessons learned from the Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo meant that our local teams rapidly reached out to faith leaders with accurate information and safely organized training sessions.”

“These leaders are rooted in their communities - a trusted presence - with exceptional reach and impact, ensuring that everyone receives the life-saving hygiene information they need,” CAFOD leadership adds in the May 6 report.

In the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, CAFOD leadership has engaged people who are “working with local church radio networks and aid experts to deliver vital hygiene messages via radio, in hard-to-reach areas.”

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Community groups facilitate the translation of the radio messages “into local languages so that they can be heard and understood by as many people as possible.”

“We are also working with women’s groups to protect women of all ages from the risk of domestic violence during lockdown,” CAFOD leadership says in the report.

South Sudan has recorded at least 10,637 COVID-19 cases, 10,312 recoveries and 115 related deaths.

In the Central African nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), CAFOD officials are working with faith leaders to “raise awareness about coronavirus through TV, radio and megaphones – helping more families survive the pandemic through targeted distribution of hygiene kits.”

The Catholic entity also facilitates the provision of “emergency food, clean, safe water and housing to families who have fled fighting and are vulnerable to coronavirus in Eastern DR Congo.”

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CAFOD leadership further provides “emergency cash assistance for vulnerable families as well as handwashing stations in key public spaces (markets and health centres) in Kinshasa.”

The leadership of the 58-year-old London-based Catholic agency, which reaches out to people living in poverty with practical help regardless of their religion or culture, is also using the experience of local networks to deliver clear and accurate information via trusted faith and traditional leaders, and promote good hygiene practices, which are both key to keeping people safe.”

“CAFOD, along with other faith organizations, is urging the international community to lead a new vision after this crisis, where the planet is respected, inequalities are reduced, and where basic services and rights are guaranteed for every human being,” the officials say in the May 6 report.

Founded in 1962 by Jacquie Stuyt and Elspeth Orchard, CAFOD works with some of the “most hard-to-reach” communities across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, helping the poorest and most marginalized people.