Responding to Covid 19: Update from the Botswana SDI Alliance

08 July 2020

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4 June 2020

BACKGROUND

Botswana is one of many other African countries that are facing the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and it is one of the first African countries to register a Covid-19 case. The pandemic has caused borders with the neighbouring countries to be temporarily closed as an effort to control the spread of the disease. It is undeniable that the disease is highly contagious and has caused economic challenge, especially to the low-income earning communities, and the normal way of life has been disrupted.

The government of Botswana declared a State of Emergency from 02nd April 2020 to last for six months, and also declared a full lockdown to run for two months. Currently the government is easing lockdown rules with caution. When the full lockdown =was declared most low-income earning communities who live from day to day sales and other daily wage jobs were caught unprepared, with no surplus of resources or supplies.

At the time this was written, Botswana had recorded only a few Covid-19 cases with most of people recovering except for one who was an elderly woman and sickly.

IMPACT

The Trust for Community Initiatives/Botswana Homeless and Poor Peoples Federation met with the Francistown City Council and the greater Francistown Covid-19 Response Team to come up with strategies to disseminate information and help to assess the impact the pandemic is causing within the communities. As it is mentioned before, the measures that were imposed on the nation at large had a significant impact, as low-income communities struggle to stay afloat without their regular livelihoods.

Even though the country had registered few Covid-19 cases, the effects or the outcome of the pandemic left people without food and other necessities. Those mostly affected beside the locals were the foreign nationals. Most foreign nationals depend on the employment given to them by the locals or nationals and lock down severely affected their work and source of income.

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KNOW YOUR CITY DATA COLLECTION RESULTS

The KYC profiling exercise that was carried out in Francistown identified families without water and toilets that were affected by lock down. Because of the lockdown rules, these families could not ask other members of the community to use their toilets – eliminating the only access to clean sanitation facilities.  It is issues such as one mentioned above which poses threats to the control and defeat of the Covid-19

In Botswana as it stands it is not the Covid-19 infection that is the main problem, it is the indirect results of the Covid-19 that is the challenge as people cannot do what they need to do in order to feed their families.

RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE

Strategies implemented as follows;

The Trust For Community Initiatives/Botswana Homeless and Poor People’s Federation partnered with the Francistown City Council and the Diaspora Volunteers living in Francistown to combat challenges that came with the Covid-19.

120 households were budgeted for through the donation from SDI. Households were identified through assessment of those who were mostly affected during the lockdown, however the number of the people on ground kept growing. With the partnership established between the Federation and the Diaspora Volunteers we were able to sustain 230 households with food hampers and non-food items such as bathing and washing soap, sanitary items, just to mention a few. And some of the items to cover 50 households were donated to the Francistown City Council to contribute towards the city’s Food Bank which was meant to cater for only locals as a way to strengthen our partnership with the City Council. Items donated include formula for newborn babies, sanitary items, and food items.

12 families were assisted with 12 temporary toilets during this extreme lockdown period; these are some of the families that were identified during the Know Your City campaign to be without water and toilets. Some of those who were identified were able to install water and toilets after a consultative meeting with them.

Areas that were covered during the period were 18 and are as follows:

Aerodrome, Areas S, Area A, Blocks, Blue Town, Coloured, Donga, Gerald, Kgaphamadi, Maipafela, Monarch, New Stance, Ntshe, Phase 6, Selepa, Sommerset East, and West, as well as Riverside.

These are low-income areas were most of the federation members reside and foreign nationals find themselves staying.

 

PARTNERSHIPS

It was through the City Council that we were able to identify the Diaspora Volunteers living in Francistown. Partnership was established and it is through this partnership that were able to assist 230 households.

This partnership is not only functional during the Covid-19, it is planned to continue beyond the Covid-19 emergency period.  The Diaspora Volunteers has pledged to assist the federation in the projects we will find common ground in.

Meetings with the City’s Mayor and Clerk have been scheduled for August 2020 with the hope that the COVID 19 will not be as it is now. The meeting is aimed to strengthen and work on the issues identified, particularly focusing on water and sanitation in the areas where the KYC profiling was conducted. It will also focus on strategies to empower NGO and funding. The Mayor indicated that his office is open and that he intends to build strong working partnership with communities. He said that the office of the mayor was not operating the way it should in terms of community engagements and it is his intention to make sure that community representation is felt. In as much as Covid-19 is a bad thing, it has opened his eyes to so many things that needs to be done focusing on inclusivity and leaving no one behind.

 

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTS

The federation played a critical role in assessing, distributing, and disseminating information on the Covid-19 prevention. Some leaders of the federation are part of the District Covid-19 Response Teams. Their role is to advise and caution the community on severity of the pandemic as well as work with health and social workers.

The following are practices made to curb the Covid-19 infections, and this comes as an instruction and advice from the health sector:

  • Emphasis on exercising social distancing
  • Every office and shops register people for contact tracing
  • Wearing of mask in public places
  • Use of sanitizers or soap and water to clean and keep hands clean at all times.

Find posted pics on TFCI Facebook page.