Institute of Global Health (IGH), a USA-based non-governmental organization, is sponsoring some selected municipalities in the northern part of the country during the lockdown period, aimed at containing spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It is expected that over 100 vulnerable female kayayei (female head porters) who will be travelling to various parts in the northern regions due to the lockdown directives will benefit from the sponsorship.
President/CEO of the Institute, Dr. Yussif Mijirah Dokurugu, speaking at a brief ceremony in Tallahassee, Florida, said the Institute is compelled to take immediate steps in support of these vulnerable people in light of this pandemic; and also to complement efforts of state agencies during the period of quarantine.
“We are anticipating that a lot of people in those communities and municipalities will benefit from the items including toiletries, detergents, food-items among others. Our main target is the vulnerable, kayayeis and poor in society. Not less than 100 people are expected to benefit from the project.”
Government last week issued a directive to lockdown capital cities including Accra and Kumasi, which begun on Monday.
As a result of this lockdown directive, the majority of female porters have been heading toward home – the Northern Region – due to the fact that their operations are adversely affected during this period of trial; and for public health reasons, all these Kayayei heading toward the North will have to be quarantined mandatorily – whether the state is prepared to cater for them fully during the period of quarantine or not. The quarantine is expected to last up to two weeks.
These vulnerable people who have nowhere to sleep and depend solely on their daily earnings are most likely to be hit so much, since the lockdown has been declared in these two capital cities.
According to data from www.csis.org there are an estimated 160,000 kayayei resident in Accra. For eleven or so hours of work per day, in the sweltering heat, the kayayei move goods throughout Accra’s bustling markets for wholesalers, traders and shoppers in exchange for a few cedis.
The Institute’s Executive Director in the Northern Region, Issah Toha Shamsoo, explained that the target is to assist the vulnerable and needy in society who will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as to promote adherence to safety precautions such as handwashing by providing buckets and toiletries while complementing the efforts of state agencies in fighting against the coronavirus pandemic.
Explaining about the sponsorship and operations, Mr. Shamsoo said the items will be delivered specifically to the needy, and “while our operations will be based in North-East Region – one of the five Northern regions when resources are available all the five regions will be supported. North-East is expected to host six mandatory quarantine centres since the region has six administrative districts”.
The West Mamprusi Municipal Chief Executive, Arimiyaw Basintali Somo Lucky, educating the public about the pandemic advised they should adhere to government’s proposed strategies for forestalling spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He used the opportunity to educate the general public on avoiding over-crowding, adhere to the 2-metre distance protocol, and avoiding the congregational prayers in Mosques and Churches.
He warned that those who flout the laid-down rules would be forced to dance to legal tunes accordingly, adding that owners of all public places must ensure the general public visiting those places go by the regular handwashing strategy – to reduce hands’ contact with the virus by providing soap with running water for them to regularly wash their hands.