30.06.2020

Bulletin in Jnue 2020: rapid and local solutions for the coronavirus pandemic

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, GIZ is developing new ideas and refocusing existing projects. It is taking a wide variety of approaches.

On behalf of the German Government, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is providing support in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Here is an overview of current measures in our countries of assignment. We will be updating the overview regularly.

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Support hotline for hospital staff

When coronavirus began to spread throughout eastern Ukraine, GIZ – already working in the region on behalf of the German Development Ministry – was able to respond quickly and provide crucial assistance: hospitals in eastern Ukraine benefited from beds and emergency equipment such as first-aid kits and oxygen devices. And support for COVID-19 treatment centres didn’t end there, says Lena Flitta, who manages GIZ‘s Prospects for Eastern Ukraine programme. ‘We asked ourselves how we could do more – and quickly without all the red tape.’ The result: 17 hospitals received items including industrial washing machines, disinfectant detergent and plexiglass partition walls. Together with the Ukrainian Red Cross, GIZ distributed around 7,200 hygiene kits to people in risk groups. The kits included masks made by local seamstresses, which in turn provided them with extra income. To ease the enormous pressure on medical staff during the pandemic, GIZ helped to set up a psychosocial support hotline for those working in the medical field. In addition, 1,000 doctors and nurses also had the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences online with German colleagues.

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Strengthening efforts against domestic violence

In Uganda, the country-wide lockdown because of the COVID-19 Pandemic has led to an increase in domestic violence., Many Ugandan women and girls with violent family members became isolated from persons and resources that would normally support them. In March and April alone, a total of 3,280 cases of domestic violence were reported, an increase of almost 50 per cent. Moreover, 95 per cent of cases are believed to remain unreported. As a result, the GIZ Civil Society in Uganda Support Programme (CUSP) intensified its efforts to engage the government of Uganda and other stakeholders to pay special attention to issues like gender-based violence and domestic violence in their interventions. Additionally, CUSP supported an awareness raising campaign on the effects of COVID-19 and set up two toll-free phone lines to support survivors of domestic violence.

The Civil Peace Service, together with various musicians from regions historically suffering from tensions, developed a song to sensitize local communities about COVID-19, raise awareness on land-grabbing and to alert against stigmatization and misinformation. 

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Protection for the retail sector

In Senegal, as in the rest of the world, shop owners are feeling the economic impact of the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus. GIZ is now supporting the retail sector with hygiene measures, so that shops can reopen safely in a way that protects public health. To begin with, on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Bavarian State Chancellery, around 200 Senegalese in the Thiès Region were provided with information about the spread of the coronavirus and protective hygiene measures. These young people then formed small teams to pass on what they had learned to around 6,500 traders, tailors, bakers and craftspeople and provided them with hand sanitiser, bleach, soap, reusable masks and washing kits for their businesses. They also handed out masks and sanitiser to passers-by. In addition, the Successful in Senegal project is supporting efforts to produce an initial 11,500 protective masks locally and is thus helping tailors to keep their businesses going despite the coronavirus crisis. 

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Protection for guests and income for the restaurant industry

Restaurants in Côte d Ivoire known as ‘maquis’ have re-opened their doors. This is good news for the population, as these simple open-air restaurants are a central meeting place for people to come together and talk. In addition, maquis are an essential source of income for many people. In addition to the staff, micro-entrepreneurs also work in the restaurants selling snacks and homemade food. However, the danger posed by the coronavirus still remains. In order to minimise the risk of infection, GIZ has procured hygiene products locally on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, including 2,500 masks, 1,500 packs of liquid soap and hand sanitiser. In addition to these products, the BMZ fund for private sector development, together with its partner company Brassivoire has also provided mobile handwashing stations to the restaurant association in Abidjan. After being closed for weeks, at least 2,500 employees and micro-entrepreneurs in 250 maquis can now earn money again and serve their guests safely.

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E-rickshaws for transporting patients

Due to the nationwide lockdown, large parts of public life in Bangladesh have come to a standstill.

Rickshaws were already in use before the coronavirus pandemic due to the lack of public transport. These rickshaws are often electrified in a makeshift way and pose significant safety risks. In 2019, GIZ therefore set up a municipal transport system in Singra, a small community in the west of the country, on behalf of BMZ. The new system uses e-rickshaws with better quality standards that are maintained on a regular basis.

Amid the current lockdown, instead of the rickshaws being out of use, the community is utilising them for a special purpose – to transport patients. Doctors and health workers can also use them around the clock, so that patients can be reached quickly in an emergency. In addition, the e-rickshaws are helping to deliver food to citizens in need. A call centre has been set up to organise deliveries: when a call comes in, the e-rickshaws immediately deliver food, which is funded through donations.

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Safe return to airports

Just like in the rest of the world, air travel in East Africa has been reduced to a minimum in the past few months. Now the region is preparing for an increase in the number of flights. To ensure that everything runs as safely as possible both at airports and in the air despite the pandemic, since the end of May GIZ has been supporting the East African Community (EAC) with implementing special safety training courses on COVID-19 at eight international airports in East Africa. As well as tips on hygiene and disinfection, the training sessions include instructions on using temperature scanners and guidelines on how to handle potentially infected patients. EAC’s Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA) is organising the safety training and AMREF Flying Doctors is running the sessions. Among those receiving training are airline employees, medical and security personal, and staff who are responsible for freight and baggage. Experienced personnel from all areas have been selected for the training courses. They are then expected to pass on what they have learned to their colleagues.

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