Ghana and Coronavirus
2 June 2020
In Africa, the coronavirus has been slower to spread than other parts of the world, however Ghana now has the continent’s fifth highest number of infections.
By 1 June, the country had recorded over 8,000 infections and 36 deaths. We are thankful for the relatively low number of deaths so far. However, an incident in which a single worker at a fish factory infected 533 co-workers last month highlights the country’s vulnerabilities.
Within the Northern Region where CHIPS works, there are now over 20 confirmed cases and we are aware of some locally, within a few miles of our base.
As the government begins to ease some restrictions, we are praying that Ghana’s government and leaders, district authorities and local and village leaders make wise decisions and take the right actions that help people stay safe and avoid tensions escalating.
We continue to run our six practical peacemaking projects where possible, however the virus is causing the pace of work to slow.
Group meetings have now been suspended in line with government advice. Although we have continued activities such as our savings and loans groups through individual meetings so far, we’re realistic that, even in the rural areas where we operate, more severe disruption is likely to occur.
The income from self-help groups is important to group members and will be even more so as the economic effects of the crisis unfold. We’re therefore developing plans to continue to run activities remotely where possible.
We have set up a system of phone-based support for the community. While this is working well, it is more difficult to reach older and vulnerable people and we will continue to review the best ways of working.
We are also considering whether and how we can provide other humanitarian support as needs evolve, as CHIPS or in partnership with other organisations.
There is misinformation circulating in Ghana about the virus, and accessing and funding protective equipment is challenging.
We are therefore considering how we can help effectively share accurate information with the community, and support best hygiene practice. For example, a lack of clean water in households makes handwashing highly challenging. However, we have a longstanding project of working with schools to encourage handwashing in schools and are looking at how we might capitalise on that work for the benefit of the wider community.
Finally, we are pleased to report that our excellent CHIPS team is currently healthy and in good spirits, and we are very grateful for the work they are doing!