The Corona virus is not yet widely spread in Southern Africa. However, the financial impact in Eswatini is already severe. In this extraordinary situation, we sent an extra donation to support the staff and the children. Below the response from All out Africa today:
Here we are very worried about what the local impact of COVID-19 will be. We are bracing ourselves for the worst. Right now we have been severely impacted by the travel bans, lock-downs and the resulting crash in our income. Our roughly 60 staff are all main providers for their often very large families and they are all very dependent on the income that has now vanished. In order for All Out Africa to survive and in order to preserve the future jobs for our staff, we have had to temporarily layoff a lot of staff and I am very worried about how they will provide for their families during this time when adequate nutrition is particularly important. We will be trying to provide every one of them at least with money for food, but the question remains… how long will this go on for?
In terms of infection with COVID-19 here, the current level (as far as we know) is low – only 9 people positive for COVID-19 in Eswatini to date. But from our experience of trying to get two people tested on separate occasions – the capacity to test here is way too low and the cost of testing is very high (for many people it is the value of ½ a month’s salary). So likely this is a huge under statement of the infection level. But our biggest worry is for the coming months ahead. We have seen the high pressure of COVID-19 on very well developed and very well funded health care systems in Europe, Asia & North America and we are terrified of how our already struggling, under capacitated and under-funded local health care system will likely be overwhelmed by the need to care for sick people once the rate of spread increases to the types of levels currently in Europe. It seems inevitable that this will happen and yet our government does not have the resources to be able to put in place rapid response measures to be prepared for this. In addition, with the world’s highest HIV prevalence we have a huge proportion of our population at severe risk. On the bright side, however, the government of South Africa and Eswatini acted quickly to close down travel and to implement social distancing and lock-down and our population age distribution is relatively young and this disease seems to have greater impact on older people. Hopefully these will mean the rate of spread is slowed and the impact lessened. Nevertheless, we are heading into a desperate situation and right now we are just doing what we can to provide for food for families in our broader community and help spread awareness of how to limit the spread of this Pandemic. We have been in touch with a member of the local Eswatini COVID-19 task force and the Business Eswatini association to try to see how we can do our bit to help in the National response.
We are hugely grateful for your amazingly generous donation of ZAR50,000 to the All Out Africa Foundation by you Atle and your colleagues at BDO during what I’m sure is a very difficult time for you all. We will ensure these funds are used efficiently and effectively to address basic needs in the communities within which All Out Africa works during these testing coming months and we will update you how they were used. Please do stay safe and well and we look forward to re-uniting in person in the future in a world that will have recovered from the Corona Virus Pandemic and which hopefully will have learnt some very valuable lessons from it all. One of the biggest encouragements for us is the sense of community we all feel in uniting to address a very difficult challenge. Thank you so much to you and your colleagues at BDO for your part in helping us and our communities to do so during this challenging time. Very are extremely grateful.
Very warm regards and best wishes