Responding to the pandemic
In 2021, families and communities continued to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Africa, an estimated 55 million more people were in critical need of food, money and other resources, as progress to reduce poverty ground to a halt.
Lives were hampered by movement restrictions and prices for food, fuel and fertiliser increased. And ambitions to vaccinate nearly half (40 percent) of Africa were not realised – less than 10 percent of Africans had been vaccinated by year end.
In 2021, Self Help Africa’s local teams continued to distribute masks, soap and other hygiene equipment in several programme countries, while we also supported efforts to raise public awareness of measures that would keep people safe from COVID-19.
Furthermore, steps were taken to ensure that smallholder farmers could access markets for their surplus produce, while the AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund established pandemic support funds and provided match funding grants to two companies to provide support to both respond to the COVID-19 challenge and to access markets for farm produce.
Meanwhile, our sister organisation, United Purpose worked with communities in Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and The Gambia to combat the spread of COVID-19 and rebuild livelihoods.
A mass awareness-raising campaign that included house-to-house visits, community training sessions and mobile street pop-ups undertaken by United Purpose reached an estimated 2.7 million people in West Africa, last year. This initiative and other activities were funded by the Welsh Government.
In Ireland, our shops network were also closed for periods of the year, and there were challenges in some locations maintaining volunteer rosters to keep retail outlets staffed at certain times during the pandemic.
In Senegal, we supported a network of women’s collectives that were helping women improve and upscale their businesses, including through access to village savings and loans schemes.
Similarly, in Bangladesh, UP’s network of 450 Women’s Business Centres provided a safe space for rural women to access reliable information about the virus and how to prevent it spreading, as well as gaining support to access and telemedicine services. Women entrepreneurs were also able to make, sell and purchase handmade COVID-19 masks as well as sanitary products at the centres. In the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, community- led protection and health resources supported the population.