Coronavirus: Regular updates from our projects

The corona virus has spread to Ghana and The Gambia – with consequences for our work in the regions. In this blogpost we will inform you about the rapidly changing developments. 

Even though there are still far fewer corona infections than in many European countries, most African countries have taken strict protective measures early on in the development to slow the spread. Measures, that also affect our project work.

In this blogpost we will inform you about the rapidly changing developments in Ghana and The Gambia and how we, together with the people in the projects, react to the challenges.

The safety of the people is the top priority of every government. But the virus puts many people in a very difficult situation – especially those with no or litte means. If farmers are not able to harvest their fields, they will have no income and no food. Unlike for instance here in Germany, there won’t be any state rescue packages to save small businesses. So the farmer might have the impossible decision of risking a corona infection or not having any food. 

That is why we and our committed project partners will do everything possible to continue with our work and try to find creative solutions for the upcoming challenges. For the villagers, for the young people and their future. In a responsible way and in compliance with all safety measures.

 

MAY 27: Corona cases under control

The numbers barely rise. 

The Gambia there are currently 6 active cases, from the 25 infected people, 18 already recovered. 

Ghana reports a total of 7.303 corona-infections, from which 2.412 people have recovered. In the Upper Eastern Region 26 cases are reported. 

 

MAY 23: EID MUBARAK!

On Saturday, May 23rd, the students in the Gambian Youth Camp celebrated the end of Ramadan together. EID is usually celebrated with ones family and relatives. It is an important festival for Muslims and the students of the youth camp were free to choose whether they would rather celebrate with their families and relatives or stay in the camp. The only requirement was that if they drive home, they can not come back until the contact restrictions are lifted. But the students seem to enjoy their life in the camp and the work in the gardens seems to be a priority for all of them. That’s why they all stayed and celebrated EID together – together as a new sort of family.

 

MAY 11: Nothing new 

In Ghana about 4.700 corona infections have been registered, with 26 cases in the Upper Eastern Region. So the number of infections is rising, but only slowly. The 22 infections in The Gambia almost don’t seem worth mentioning. Of course, we can’t know if this is the true number of infections or if the dark figure is much higher. But for now, there seems to be no feeling of panic arising, whether in The Gambia or Ghana.
In compliance with the new health regulations, Akor Mukailia (project manager of our new project in the Upper Eastern Region of Ghana) and Momodou Bah (project manager of the Gambian Youth Project) can both continue with their work as planned. So in this case: No news is good news. 

 

APRIL 29: Life and work in the Gambian Youth Project continues as usual

Except for the stricter hygiene measures, life and work in the Gambian Youth Project almost continues as normal. Momodou Bah, the manager of the project, wrote us this: “Work in the garden is ongoing. We are currently harvesting cucumbers, okra, eggplant, onions, tomato, lettuce and bitter tomato in small quantities and selling them on the market.”
As Momodou reports, there seem to be no food shortages at the moment. 

As to the numbers of COVID-19 infections:
No new cases have been reported from The Gambia

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ghana has increased to 2.074, with 19 infections registered in the Upper Eastern Region (our project region). 

 

APRIL 27: Start of the rainy season in Chereponie, Ghana

Good news: It started to rain in Chereponie and the North of Ghana. The seasons keep changing, unimpressed by the Corona pandemic. 

 The first farmer families started to prepare their fields and plant Yams, Cassava, Melons and yellow corn. Grains, such as corn, soybeans and millet will follow with the begin of the monsoon season in the summer (this will be part of our new project, which we will tell you more about soon). Luckily the lockdown has been lifted in almost all parts of Ghana, so that the farmers can continue the work of the fields as usual. 

Strong rainfall in Chereponie, Ghana, signal the start of the new planting season for Yams, Cassava, Melons and yellow corn.

In respect to the Coronca infections:
In Ghana infections increased to a total of 1.550. In the Upped Eastern Region no new cases were reported, with a total of 8 registered Corona infections in the region. 

The Gambia reported 10 cases so far.  

 

APRIL 18: The situation in the project region stays calm

The Corona infections in Ghana have increased to 834 in total, with now 8 cases registered in the Upper Eastern region.

In The Gambia there are still only 9 cases registered. 

 

APRIL 17: We are prepared to start with the online classes 

We are not allowed to start with the classes yet. But for the moment that schools and training centers in The Gambia are allowed to open again, we are prepared. Lufthansa trainees Anh-Thu and Larissa just finished the online course for the upcoming business class about “How to sell your business idea”. We can’t wait to start. We will keep you updated. 

Example from the Powerpoint presentation for the online classes

 

APRIL 11: Corona infections slowly increase

Corona infections in The Gambia have increased by five new cases, amounting to a total of only 9 confirmed infections. 

Infections in Ghana have risen to 408 (as of April 10th, 11:00 p.m.). In the Upper Eastern Region, where the Anoshe Women project is placed and where the new project is scheduled to start, only one case has been registered.

 

APRIL 6: Gambian Government freezes market prices

On April 6th, Momodou Bah, project manager of the Gambian Youth Project writes us following update:  “The Gambian government has frozen the market prices. All vendors who raise their prices for essential goods and are trying to profit from this crisis are being arrested and sent to court. Some people already had to pay half a million Dalasi (approximately 9.000 Euro)as punishment and their license was revoked.”

The governments intervention in this case is an important measure, since we dreaded the prices to skyrocket, as they normally do in times of crisis. And that always hits the poorer population the hardest.

In Ghana presents a different situation. There, project manager Akor Munkaila told us, that the prices for essential good have partially doubled!

It now all depends on how long the security measures will continue. As soon as the situation eases somewhat, Akor expects prices to normalize again.

 

APRIL 3: RDO can continue work in the vegetable gardens

Good news from our Gambian Youth Project: The classes will be suspended until further notice, but the work in the gardens can continue. This is confirmed by a law firm. 

Vegetable gardens in the Gambian Youth Project, January 2020

Background:
Because we founded the Rural Development Organization (RDO) as a “social entrepreneur”, our partner organization can now continue to grow vegetables as an essential food producer. This is particularly important to Momodou Bah, given that the rural areas have to expect food shortages.

For this, the RDO will give the students temporary employment contracts. This way the training facility officially becomes a production facility and is allowed to remain open – in strict compliance with the safety regulations of the WHO.

All students were free to choose whether they want to return to their families or stay in the camp. Almost all of them decided to stay. Only three have returned to their villages for the duration of government regulations. We are very pleased, that so many students decided to stay in the camp in this exceptional situation. It shows great trust in local management.

 

APRIL 2: It’s not going to be easy, but we are starting a new project in Ghana

Ghana reports a total of 204 corona infections, with now 10 cases in the Northern Region. All public gatherings are cancelled. Meetings of more than six people are prohibited.

This demands an considerable amount of extra effort for project manager Akor Munkaila. We are starting a new project (we will give more details soon) and Akor Munkaila is in the middle of the preparations. But instead of holding village meetings, he now visits all farmer families individually to discusses the upcoming steps. This is a lot of work, but the only way can we ensure everyone’s health and move forward as planned.

Akor Munkaila with women of the Anoshe Women Group, November 2016

Also: Due to intensive disinfection measures, the market is closed for the day.

Disinfection measures in Chereponie, April 2nd 2020

 

MARCH 28: Law firm to clarify if Gambian Youth Camp may remain open

In view of the tightened security measures, we are faced with the question of whether the youth camp has to close. However, since the RDO is both a training center and a food producer, the situation is not entirely clear. We hire a well-known law firm to clarify the legal situation.

 

MARCH 27: Gambian President closes all non systemically relevant places and businesses

In his second address to the nation, President Adama Barrow announced the closure of all public places, as well as all non essential places, such as cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, event locations or religious sites. Meetings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

 

MARCH 25: We start planning the upcoming online business courses

With the aim, that the business lessons in the Gambian youth project should continue as soon as possible, we start planning the digital-interactive lessons with the Lufthansa trainees and beginn to work.

Ghana closes all borders. To date, 78 corona infections have been reported.

 

MARCH 24 

The Gambia closes its borders to Senegal and all airspace.

 

MARCH 23 

Ghana reports a total of 24 corona infections.

 

MARCH 18: Strict hygiene measures for Gambian Youth Project

In order to guarantee everyones safety and health, we discuss stricter hygiene measures for the students with the camp management of the Rural Development Organization (RDO). Contacts with external contractors or vendors are to be reduced to a minimum. Food and essential products should be stocked in larger quantities, as we have to expect food shortages in the upcoming weeks and months.

To not waste time, we talk to the responsible departments of the Lufthansa Group and discuss how to proceed with the business classes. Skipping the lessons is not an option for us. The management agrees to continue to support the classes via online courses. Read more

 

MARCH 17: Lufthansa Trainees have to leave The Gambia

Foreign visitors and tourists are asked to go into quarantine for two weeks. The government imposes an entry stop for tourists from regions with increased corona cases (including Europe). Government employees are prohibited from traveling abroad. Public events such as conferences, demonstrations or funerals are prohibited. The Gambian government announces nationwide closings of schools for an initial 21 days.

Due to the tense situation in Europe, the Federal Foreign Office instructs all Germans abroad to start their journey home immediately. Brussels Airlines announces that the last flight from The Gambia will be on March 21st. The Lufthansa trainees leave on the evening of March 17th.

Lufthansa Trainees teach the business classes in the Gambian Youth Project, January 2020

Public life in The Gambia continues for the time being – albeit with restrictions. The youth camp remains open.

 

16. MÄRZ

The Gambia reports the first corona case.

 

13. MÄRZ

Ghana reports the first corona cases.

 

SOURCES:

  • http://www.moh.gov.gm/
  • https://ghanahealthservice.org/covid19/

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