The coronavirus crisis is affecting many of the countries of the Global South even more drastically than Europe. The staff of Solidar Suisse are doing everything they can to protect the poorest people in our project countries from the impact the pandemic is having on their health sector, economy and society. Here are some examples of our activities on the ground.
Bolivia: Combatting domestic violence
Solidar Suisse is informing the population via social media and local radio stations about preventive measures they can take against Covid-19. But the virus isn’t the only threat to health, because violence against women is also increasing under the lockdown. Those affected can report to a free telephone hotline and receive support. But fear of the coronavirus is also leading to the dissemination of false information. Thanks to its many years of active work and the strong network it has built up in the area of development cooperation, Solidar Suisse is a trusted source of information which can educate people about the fake news surrounding the virus.
Bangladesh: help for workers and the Rohingya
Transnational fashion brands have cancelled orders in Bangladesh worth over 3 billion US dollars. Four million people are employed in the country’s textile factories and risk having no income at all in the months to come. And then too, there are the refugee camps for Rohingya people who have fled Myanmar. So the coronavirus crisis is hitting the country particularly hard. We are providing the Rohingya with information about how to avoid catching the virus, and preparing a strategy together with our local partner organisation to assist the textile workers.
El Salvador: Young people in support of civil defence
Solidar Suisse has been involved in disaster prevention work in El Salvador for many years in collaboration with civil defence organisations. Now young people from our project on the prevention of violence are engaging in civil defence work at checkpoints, where cars and goods are sprayed with disinfectant. And in El Salvador too, we are trying to combat domestic violence. We inform those affected about their rights via social media and WhatsApp and contribute to the state assistance offered to women affected by violence. We are also planning to distribute seeds to help smallholders. Because of the serious economic crisis, access to seed is essential for ensuring that the rural population can enjoy food security.
Pakistan: home-made masks
Our local partner is distributing soap and disinfectants and we are sending out leaflets to shanty towns informing the residents about the dangers of the virus and the protective measures they can take, with a view to minimising as far as possible the effects of a viral infection. Workers in sewing workshops are being trained in the manufacture of face masks. The team uses the masks for personal protection, as well as distributing them to sick and especially vulnerable people..
Burkina Faso: Education work
Most of the regions of Burkina Faso have been affected by the coronavirus. With the aim of providing information about necessary preventive measures, we have produced awareness-raising posters in three of the country’s languages (Moore, Dyula and Fulfulde), which our local partner organisations then distribute to the population. This information can also be accessed via social networks and WhatsApp.
Mozambique: Water tank for disinfection stations
After the population in Mozambique suffered the devastation of Cyclone Idai a year ago, it was considered all the more important to stem the spread of the coronavirus. In collaboration with the authorities, Solidar Suisse has set up a station on a busy road between Chimoio and Macate, where information can be disseminated and disinfection measures enacted. To this end, Solidar Suisse has set up a tank and organised its water supply. More information about our activities in Mozambique.
Malaysia: Food supply for migrant workers
The coronavirus has even reached the isolated palm oil plantations of Sabah. The migrant workers, who were already very cut off before the arrival of the virus, have now found that the government’s restrictions on mobility are preventing them from accessing vital food supplies. Local markets have been cancelled and itinerant traders are no longer allowed to set foot on the plantations. In addition, health conditions for the plantation workers leave much to be desired. Solidar Suisse has been joining forces with local partners to distribute basic foodstuffs and toiletries to the people who are worst affected.
Cambodia: The fight for a fair solution for textile workers
More than 60,000 workers in Cambodia have been made redundant because of factory closures as a result of the collapse in the textile sector. But with no savings or social security, these workers and their families are in urgent need of their wages to survive. The partner organisations of Solidar Suisse are supporting people locally: they are distributing food and toiletries as an emergency measure and fighting for a longer-term solution by supporting trade union negotiations with the textile industry.