As is the case in the United States, in the past few months, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been seeing an uptick in the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
In July, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Countries across sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing a third wave of the coronavirus disease pandemic, with the number of new weekly confirmed cases rising by more than 20 percent in 22 African countries.”
Contributing to the rise in cases is lack of adherence to COVID-19 mitigation measures and the spread of more contagious variants, WHO reports. And while the pace of vaccinations is increasing across the continent, less than 1 percent of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that “COVID-19 is having devastating consequences on millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa, as many become orphaned, making them vulnerable to many social ills.
“The region is in the throes of a full-blown third wave of COVID-19,” UNICEF stated recently. “Children are often not directly affected by the deadly disease, but they are losing their parents to the pandemic.”
UNICEF spokesman James Elder noted that when children become orphaned, traditionally the responsibility of looking after them falls on their grandparents. However, as older people are among the main victims of COVID-19, “children are often shoveled off to another relative, who likely is living in dire, impoverished circumstances.”
In addition, millions of children have been unable to return to school since classes started resuming, and children who do not go to school are unprotected and open to exploitation,” he said. “COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to education.”
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we are not necessarily an emergency relief organization although during the pandemic, thanks to our supporters, we have been able to expand our programs by increasing shipments of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment to our partners who operate hospitals and clinics in countries including Cameroon and Sierra Leone.
Most recently, we shipped a 40-foot filled with personal protection equipment (PPE) such as isolation gowns, face masks, disposable gloves, and disinfectant spray to our partner in Cameroon, Hope Services, which operates a clinic in Yaoundé for the indigent, to keep their frontline medical staff safe as they risk their lives to save others.
And soon, we hope to ship a 40-foot container of medical supplies including catheters, PPE, surgical packs, wound care items, beds, examination tables, wheelchairs, and much more to our partner in Malawi, the Our AIM Foundation, where it operates its Holistic Community Center and “provides critical care and inspires hope” for more than 10,000 residents in more than 120 surrounding villages.
Realizing the critical need for clean water, especially now during the pandemic, we have been working harder than ever to protect spring sites from contamination in Uganda, repaired several non-functioning wells in Tanzania, and most recently are working to dig a well for a clinic in Sierra Leone.
And, as we have done for two decades, we are supporting children’s homes in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Zimbabwe ensuring that hundreds of orphaned and destitute children with nowhere to turn have loving homes where all their basic needs are met, as well as the opportunity to attend school through our school fees assistance program.
None of this would be possible without the generous supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, many who have been with us since the beginning, and whose continued help is needed now more than ever as we hope and pray for the end of this terrible pandemic which has wreaked havoc and brought misery around the world.