COVID-19: Access to Clean Water is Crucial in sub-Saharan Africa!

COVID-19: Access to Clean Water is Crucial in sub-Saharan Africa!

For more than two decades,  we at Bread and Water for Africa® have remained committed to providing clean, safe drinking water for tens of thousands of children, parents and elders in sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the years, we have dug wells in countries including Cameroon, Zambia, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone and protected safe water spring sites from human and animal contamination in Uganda.

Waterborne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery, to name just a few, as well as bacterial and parasitic infections are among the most common causes of serious illness, and even death, and tragically all of this sickness and fatalities can be easily preventable.

In addition to the significant health concerns, children — practically all young girls who should be in school — are instead spending their childhood and youth walking back and forth long distances to fetch water for their families from often contaminated sources.

At Bread and Water for Africa® we work with local leaders of rural villages where clean water is a precious commodity to dig wells, frequently on the grounds of schools and clinics which serve not only the students and patients and healthcare staff, but also the greater community as whole.

Water scarcity affects one in three people in sub-Saharan Africa through either unclean water, or through terrible droughts which cause deaths some dehydration.

And today, with the COVID-19 pandemic making inroads into the countries where we work, clean water — always a necessity of life — is more critical than ever.

For the thousands who benefit from these safe water sources their lives have been transformed and no longer do they live in fear of illness or death each time they take a drink.

Collaborating our health care program with UMC in the midst of global COVID-19 pandemic

Collaborating our health care program with UMC in the midst of global COVID-19 pandemic

Medicines, medical supplies and equipment are always in short supply in the rural regions of sub-Saharan African countries, and with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing its spread throughout the continent these items are needed now more than ever.

This month, we are planning on shipping a 40-foot container full these life-saving supplies and materials to our partner in Sierra Leone, the United Methodist Church – Sierra Leone Annual Conference Health Board (UMC-SLAC HB) for distribution to its clinics and hospitals throughout the country.

This shipment will mark the second of such shipments this year of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medicines and medical supplies for clinics and hospitals in communities such as Rotifunk, Kulanda Town, Manokoh, Taiama Town, and others which serve well over 50,000 indigent and low-income Sierra Leoneans every year.

With the coronavirus pandemic starting to spread in May, UMC-SLAC HB health coordinator Catherine Norman reported upon receiving the previous shipment that “The donated medicines and medical supplies were well-timed and with certainty the need was colossal and consequently produced a helpful effect to the eight CHASL health facilities at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone began in 1855, and 165 years later is still continuing its efforts to improve the lives of impoverished Sierra Leoneans in the areas of education, community development and especially health care.

(As an aside, we were saddened to learn that UMC Resident Bishop John Yambasu was tragically killed in an automobile accident in August while on his way to preach a funeral service for one of his ministers. He is greatly missed by the UMC community around the world and all Sierra Leoneans, and of course by all of us here at Bread and Water for Africa®.)

As the UMC-SL noted in May following our first shipment in 2020, the result has been an uninterrupted supply of drugs, making for the constant availability of essential medicines always at the ready and free for the impoverished, while maintaining a high standard of quality care.

This partnership has provided “immediate emergency care for thousands of vulnerable Sierra Leoneans who were in desperate need and experiencing life-threatening health conditions,” stated the UMC-SL.

And now, through the generosity and compassion of our supporters, hopefully soon another shipment will be arriving in the country for distribution to the clinics and hospitals where these supplies are needed most.

“Once more thank you for your continued support,” said Catherine.

Africa in the Path of Covid-19 and Our Steadfast Support

Africa in the Path of Covid-19 and Our Steadfast Support

Medicine Distribution to Health Centers in Sierra Leone

“While so much about the virus and how it operates remains unclear, sub-Saharan Africa so far has dodged a deadly wave of coronavirus cases.” — The Washington Post, September 22, 2020

While that may be true in terms of confirmed cases and deaths, the impact of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is being felt throughout sub-Saharan Africa as many low- and now no-income Africans are struggling to just get enough to eat.

In countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe, our partners the Kabawta Orphanage and Transit Centre and the Lerato Children’s Village respectively, are relying on an additional grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa® to purchase food for the orphaned and destitute children in their care in the face of rampant inflation where the prices of basic foodstuffs are increasing on a daily basis.

In Sierra Leone, where thankfully as of September 23, there have been just 72 coronavirus-related deaths, Bread and Water for Africa® and our partner there, Rural Youth Development Organization – Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL), have been working hand-in-hand to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

This summer, RYDO-SL program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba, turned to Bread and Water for Africa® with an urgent plea for assistance in providing materials and supplies to make reusable face masks.

“The use of face masks by the target communities to impede COVID-19 transmission will limit the contact of infected individuals via physical distancing and contact tracing with appropriate quarantine and secondly reduce the transmission probability per contact by wearing face masks in public among other measures,” said Joseph.

“The decreased transmission will reduce the death rate and economic impact, while the cost of locally-made face masks is low.”

Throughout the sub-Saharan African countries where we work, the numbers of deaths and confirmed cases is just a very small percentage of the millions of cases and more than 200,000 deaths we have experienced here in the United States, the total number of deaths in those countries is reaching 3,000 according to the World Health Organization with: Cameroon – 416 deaths, 20,598 confirmed cases, with a population of 18.8 million; Chad – 81, 1,153, 10.3 million; Ethiopia – 1,108, 69,709, 85.2 million; Kenya – 650, 37,079, 39 million; Sierra Leone – 72, 2168, 6.1 million; Uganda – 63, 6,468, 32.3 million; Zambia – 331, 14,175, 11.8 million; and Zimbabwe – 225, 7,683, 11.3 million.

In addition, this year we have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical supplies to our partners in Sierra Leone such as (RYDO-SL) and Ethiopia, such as  Haramaya  University community hospitals and clinics, where medicines and medical supplies are desperately needed.

In countries which have closed schools due to the pandemic, such as in Cameroon, Chad, and Sierra Leone, we have received reports that classes will be resuming soon in a safe and responsible manner at which time we will be able to resume our school fee program providing hundreds of children the opportunity to get an education.

And in Uganda, while our water protection project in cooperation with our partner there, Bega Kwa Bega, to prevent springs that serve numerous communities was put on hold, we are pleased to report that it has now resumed.

All of what we have been able to accomplish this year to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives is due wholly to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, without which none of this would have been possible.