Not surprisingly, COVID-19 was detected in both Tanzania and Zambia in the middle of March. The last detailed figures for Tanzania, published on April 29th, reported 480 cases and 21 deaths (with a further 29 cases reported in early May in Zanzibar). Since these reports, there have been no further official figures. At the start of June, President Magufuli has declared Tanzania ‘coronavirus-free’, although in the middle of June he told Parliament there were 66 active coronavirus cases. Yet, there remains considerable concern about the adverse effects of the virus in Tanzania. In Zambia currently, there have been nearly 6000 confirmed cases with just over 150 deaths, with several spikes in July. The situation in Zambia, is comparable to other countries in Eastern and Central Africa of increasing cases, but relatively low numbers of deaths reported.
Food Security Challenges
The region has been hit by a series of natural disasters including droughts, severe flooding at the start of 2020 and the continual threat of locust invasion. The FAO reports and unprecedented Desert locust threat to food security and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa and the outbreak in East Africa has been described as the most serious in decades, already devastating crops in Kenya and Somalia. Second-generation spring swarms formed in north-west Kenya, Eastern Ethiopian and parts of Somalia, while breeding commenced in the Ethiopian highlands. In February, Tanzania detected swarms in the north close to Mount Kilimanjaro. A single swarm can contain up to 150 million locust per square kilometre of farmland and can consume enough food for 35,000 people a day. The swarms have placed even further pressure on the fragile agricultural communities in the region, coupled with restrictions on the movement of people and goods due to Covid 19. Food security and the potential for famine has significantly increased. The cost of staple foodstuffs, such as maize, which remains exceptionally high due to the poor harvest in 2019 and a weak currency in Tanzania, has been inflated further due to the pandemic leading to increasing production and transportation costs. Unfortunately, the Sisters have had another poor harvest this year placing even further pressure on their scarce resources and food supplies.
Update from the Sisters
Tanzania - All schools, colleges etc. are open again and the Sisters in education are back at their learning places. The girls of the hostel in Masasi are also back. There are no cases in the Dioceses of Masasi and Newala (as of July 13th). I have no news of the situation from the diocese where CMM Houses are, i.e. SW Highlands and Ruvuma, but in Dar es Salam the situation is dire. The Sisters there are scared to go out, cannot sell their wafers, candles nor their milk and eggs on which they live.
Zambia - The Sisters in Chalata, Zambia wrote on 12. July: ‘The coronavirus situation is still escalating, though people have forcefully come out of the partial lock down and life goes on as usual, except for the schools which remain closed apart from examination classes and final year students in colleges and universities which have been opened for a month now. This means Sr. Sapelo is back at her teacher training college.’ The sisters then provided a further update ‘the Covid 19 situation has not improved. Last month, twelve clergy in the diocese of Lusaka tested positive, including the Dean of the Cathedral of Holy Cross and his wife. All sectors, including bars and schools have been asked to reopen subject to adherence to health guidelines’.
CMM Sisters with new maize threshing machine – purchased by Warwick School Harvest Festival Fund raising
We are very pleased to announce that Mark Kingaby-Daly from Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York has agreed to join us as a new Trustee. Mark is the Pastoral Assistant and Safeguarding Officer at Holy Trinity and brings a wealth of experience to the charity.
Additional Support in Response to Covid 19
Following discussions with Mother Dorothy, we quickly identified additional support we could offer to the Sisters - this included basic items to help the sanitation, measures to protect against virus transmission and additional medical supplies. We were very grateful to receive several personal donations, but also Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York were able to assist the Sisters with another generous donation. However, there is still much support the Sisters and their communities need not only in response to Covid 19 also to meet the challenges food security and education. If you’re interested in helping us to fund further projects please get in contact with us here. All of the funds that we raise go directly to support the Sisters - the charity runs entirely on voluntary contributions from the trustees and our supporters.
Fundraising Appeal 2020
This we are focusing on raising money to build a new Solar Hot Water System at the Health Station in Sayuni. Currently, all the laundry is washed in cold water, and providing this new sustainable hot water system will greatly improve infection-control and safety for all the patients and staff. We are hoping to raise at least £1000 to get this project set up to support the Sisters in their vital work in supporting their communities at this Health Station.
You can donate on-line or contact us directly with details on our website at: https://www.africansisters.org.uk/getinvolved