The Church aid agency Cafod has launched an emergency appeal for funds to tackle the spread of coronavirus in the global south.
“The potential scale of the pandemic across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East – as well as among refugee and displaced populations in places such as Syria, South Sudan and the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh – is truly frightening”, said Cafod Director Christine Allen. “We will maximise the reach of the global Catholic Church aid network, particularly in Africa where a third of healthcare is provided by the Catholic Church, and trusted faith and community leaders are known in their communities”.
Donations will be used for such projects as installing hand washing stations in villages, training faith leaders to share coronavirus prevention methods with their communities, providing farmers with tools and seed to grow food and emergency food aid. According to the UN, over a third of households in Africa have no access to handwashing facilities, and almost another third has limited access, with either no water or no soap.
In addition, Cafod has launched a Coronavirus petition that calls on the Prime Minister to ensure the most marginalised people are prioritised in the UK’s international efforts as well as at home.
The petition also calls for the cancellation of all debt payments by developing countries due in 2020 so that they can instead spend the money on healthcare. Around 2,000 people across England and Wales have already signed.
In Zimbabwe, Cafod’s Country Representative Verity Johnson reports that Church agencies have been distributing food to the worst affected areas and training on social distancing and hygiene measures to keep aid workers and the communities they serve safe. “We are working to scale-up access to water for communities and also health clinics and schools, many of which may find themselves on the frontline of the coronavirus response” she said.